A proposal by the Home Office, quoted in part below, resulted in a royal
decree by the Queen of Spain, Queen Isabella II, on October 24, 1849
authorizing the issue of adhesive postage stamps for the prepayment and
registration of correspondence.
to Her Majesty the Queen
The method of franking letters invented in England and recently introduced
into France, has been approved by public opinion in Spain, and the desire is
general to see it adopted in this country. The time has arrived for this to
be done as happens with every new idea when public opinion requires to be
satisfied either by rejecting the idea or by adopting it.
It was proposed that lower rates of postage should be applicable to prepaid
letters in order to encourage people to prepay the postage. The postal rate
on prepaid letters was fixed at 6 cuartos, while unpaid letters had to bear 1
real, equal to 8 cuartos. Letters of a heavier weight might be sent for 12c
if prepaid, but were rated at 15c if unpaid.
During the two months between announcement and actual introduction of the
stamps on January 1, 1850, several decrees and proclamations were published
regarding use of stamps. They were to be placed on the top left corner of the
letter; and the stamps could be used only on prepaid mail to be sent within
the kingdom, with the sole exception of prepaid letters to Italy. "Of
the letters addressed abroad only those of Italy should be prepaid. All
others may not and ought not to be prepaid."
Two designs were used for the first stamps of Spain. The original designs
were reproduced in 1950 to commemorate the centenary of Spain's stamps (Scott
Nos. C128 and 777 in Figure 1) and in 1964 on an issue for International
Stamp Day (Scott No. 1245 in Figure 2).
1. From Spain's 1950 Stamp Centenary Issue.
Figure 2. Spain's 1964 issue for International Stamp
The 6c stamp of 1850, also
known as the Spanish penny black', shows a profile of the queen facing left;
and the other denominations use a similar profile facing right. The portrait
of Queen Isabella II does not have the distinctive beauty of the portrait of
Victoria used on British stamps, but her features graced most Spanish stamps
until her abdication in 1868. To avoid defacing the features of Isabella, an
unusual postmark was devised which was intended to frame her portrait, the
"Arana," see below.
Postal rates were reduced to 1c in November, 1852 for ordinary weight letters
posted in Madrid for delivery within the city. Stamps of 1c and 3c were
issued in April, 1853 featuring the city's coat of arms. These stamps were
typographed in bronze, which was the first time metallic ink had been used in
the production of stamps.
Fear of forgery caused the postal authorities to change the designs of the
stamps at annual intervals, with only a few exceptions. Spain produced a
total of 285 different stamps in the first twenty years involving twenty nine
distinct designs. Early collectors shied away from Spanish stamps because of
this prodigious output, although by modern standards we would have to
classify this number of issues as modest.
In the beginning, stamp on stamp designs began on April 2, 1936 with two
stamps for the First National Philatelic Exposition, see Figure 3. The Arms
of Madrid design shown is similar to Scott Type A5. These were also overprinted
"CORREO AERO" in blue or red.
3. Spain's issue of 1936 to commemorate
the First International Philatelic Exhibition.
centenary of Spain's first perforated stamp was commemorated with three
designs on November 22, 1965, Scott Nos. 1327-29, see Figure 4.
4. Spain's 1965 issue to commemorate the centenary
of Spain's first perforated postage stamps.
BREAKING NEW GROUND
On May 6, 1966, the anniversary of the original Penny Black, a set of three
stamps was issued by Spain for International Stamp Day, Figure 5.
5. Spain's 1966 issue for International Stamp Day.
stamps reproduced covers and postmarks -- as opposed to stamps alone -- and,
in that regard marked a relatively new approach to stamp on stamp design. The
stamps shown in Figure 5 feature the classic cancellations applied to Scott
Nos. 1, 3, and 5.
"mute" cancellation on Scott No. 1350, shown at the left in Figure
5, is known as the Grill of Reus. It is called a mute cancel because it
doesn't say anything.
1351, illustrated as the center stamp in Figure 5, shows the famed
"Arana" (Spider) cancel which became mandatory on January 24, 1850.
The "Arana" cancel leaves a large open space in the center, as
Queen Isabella did not want her face to be marked with anything as demeaning
as a cancel.
"O"cancellation featured on Scott No. 1352 at the right in Figure
5, is a pre-stamp marking indicating "certificado" or registered
markings carried into the advent of adhesive stamps and many years passed
before they disappeared from use. Even after adhesives came into use, letters
continued to be sent stampless. Not until 1854 did franking with stamps
become mandatory for domestic mail and finally, in 1857, for foreign mail.
WORLD STAMP DAY
The idea of featuring stamps and postmarks on the same stamp was continued in
a beautifully designed series, beginning on May 6, 1967 and ending in 1976,
which celebrated World Stamp Day, see Figures 6, 7, 8, and 9. The designs are
elegant in their simplicity and very powerful. Queen Isabella's countenance
seems to be improving! These are some of my favorite stamps on stamps.
6. Spain's 1976 issues for International Stamp Day.
Left: Scott No. 1468. The long grill of Madrid, also known as the
Center: Scott No. 1469. Crowned "M" postmark of Madrid.
Right: Scott No. 1470. Numerical postmark No. 3 of 1850.
7. Spain's 1968 and 1970 issues for International Stamp Day.
Left: Scott No. 1527, issued in 1968. Galicia is a province in northwest
Center: Scott No. 1528, issued in 1968. Serena is an area in southwest Spain
in the province of Badajoz.
Right: Scott No. 1608, issued in 1970. One of the earliest railroad
postmarks. Gijon is one
of three stations on the Langero railroad in northern Spain.
8. Spain's 1969 and 1971 issues for International Stamp Day.
Left: Scott No. 1568, issued in 1969. Crowned "M" and date is a
Center: Scott No. 1569, issued in 1969. Corvera is in southeast Spain in
Right: Scott No. 1677, issued in 1971. The "A" was used for
9. Spain's 1973, 1974, and 1976 issues for International Stamp Day.
Left: Scott No. 1754, issued in 1973. The design features a red Madrid 1853
Center: Scott No. 1806, issued in 1974. Blue Seville cancellation with grill.
Right: Scott No. 1943, issued in 1976. Coruna datestamp cancel of May 6,
following tabulation gives a summary of the stamps on stamps issues of Spain
for the period between 1936 and 1989.
Date of Scott
Issue Cat. # Stamp Reproduced Event
4/2/36 572-73 Spain Type A5 (Apr 10, 1853) First National Philatelic
4/2/36 C88-89 Spain Type A5 (Apr 10, 1853) First National Philatelic
Overprint of 572-573 Exposition
10/12/50 776-9 Spain 1 (Jan 1, 1850) Centenary Spanish Stamps
10/12/50 C127-30 Spain 4 (Jan 1, 1850) Centenary Spanish Stamps
5/6/64 1244-46 Spain 1 (Jan 1, 1850) World Stamp Day
Spain 898 (Mar 24, 1959)
Spain 916 (Feb 29, 1960)
Spain 998 (Jul 10, 1961)
11/22/65 1327-29 Spain 78, 77, 80 (Jun 1, 1865) Centenary first Spanish
5/6/66 1350-52 Spain 1, 3, 5 (Jan 1, 1850) National and International
5/6/67 1468-70 Spain 3, 2, 4 (Jan 1, 1850) World Stamp Day
5/6/68 1527-28 Spain 1, 4 (Jan 1, 1850) World Stamp Day
5/6/69 1568-69 Spain 6, 11 (Jan 1, 1851) World Stamp Day
5/6/70 1608 Spain 51 (Feb 1, 1860) World Stamp Day
5/6/71 1677 Spain 1b (Jan 1, 1850) World Stamp Day
5/6/73 1754 Spain 23 (Jan 1, 1853) World Stamp Day
5/6/72 1719 Pre-stamp postmark World Stamp Day
5/6/74 1806 Spain 28 (Jan 1, 1854) World Stamp Day
1/2/75 1865 Spain 1b (Jan 1, 1850) 125th Anniversary of
Spain 1802 (Apr 4, 1974) Spanish Stamps
5/6/76 1943 Spain 10 (Jan 1, 1851) World Stamp Day
5/7/77 2043 Spain 1b (Jan 1, 1850) 50th Anniversay
Spain 334 (Dec 1922) Philatelic Market in
Spain 883 (Jul 30, 1958) Plaza Major, Madrid
Spain 1329 (Nov 22, 1965)
Spain 1877d (Apr 4, 1975)
5/27/78 2104 Spain 240 (Jul 1, 1878) Stamp Day
5/18/79 2151 Bulgaria 1 (May 1, 1879) Philaserdica '79
7/1/80 2216 Spain 4 (Jan 1, 1850) 50th Anniversary of First
Spain 24 (Nov 1, 1854) National Philatelic
Spain 345 (Feb 15, 1929 Exhibition
Spain 409 (May, 1930)
10/2/89 2608 Spain Type A34 (1889) Centenary Alfonso XIII
Hubert. 1919. The Stamps of Spain 1850-1854.
Mackay, James A. 1973. The Dictionary of Stamps in Color. Macmillan
Mackay, James A. 1972. The World of Classic Stamps 18 40-1870. Putnam.
Scott 1998 Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, Vol. 6, 1997, Scott Publishing
Dam, Theo. (no date). The Postal Markings of Spain in Billig's Handbook on
Postmarks. Volume 13.