Sunday, June 22, 2008

How this series came about

Thanks to a reference provided by one of the ‘Foreros,’ I learned about the existence of the book published by the Argentinean Post Office, Volume I, in 1939, by Antonio Deluca, and titled “Stamps and other postal and telegraph issues.” This book contains key information about Arg3551, about which Deluca mentions the following:

The decision to replace the San Martin issue by a new series came from 1931, but was abandoned due to the Argentinean Post Office ‘s economic hardship. Its director, Mr. Carlos Risso Dominguez, sent a memorandum to the Ministry of the Interior, dated November 28, 1932, in which he outlines basic facts about this series that I did not know before I obtained this book. The basic facts contained in this memorandum are:

1. There were several postal forgery incidents that cost the Argentinean Post Office a large loss of revenue. “In 1921 a postal forgery of the 5c stamp was found, and it incurred a loss of aproximately 1 million pesos of national currency in a few months. There seems to be an additional forgery of higher quality and affecting the 2c and 5c values. It is then without doubt that the prolonged use of the same stamp type conspires against its legitimacy and affects adversely our collection of revenue.”
2. Four categories were proposed for the new issue:

“a) Publish the likenesses of those signing the Declaration of Independence...”
“b) Publish the likenesses of those signing the 1853 Constitution...”
“c) Publish a selection of the likenesses of important military and civilian figures...and in addition add simbolic figures representing the Republic as shown on our currency, and mainly the Argentinean shield in its authentic model.”
“d) Finally...use the stamps for an increased awareness of our products and therefore put in effect a news-wrothy promotion in its favor, just as other countries do...”

There then take place several bureaucratic steps tipically required for a new stamp series: authorization by the Ministry of the Interior, design contest, and authorization by the President of the Republic. The second memorandum containing facts about this series was sent by the commission making recommendations on this new issue to the Argentinean Post Office on July 4 1933:

1. “ The commission proposes the portraits for the following important figures to be featured in as many issues: San Martin, Rivadavia, Moreno, Belgrano, Sarmiento, Mitre, Urquiza, Rodriguez, Guemes, Velez Sarsfield. Within the context of promoting, the commission indicates, of course, the map of the Argentinean Republic, and the following industries: Cattle, Agriculture, Oil, Wine-making, and Sugar Cane.”
2. This memorandum recommends the use of papel without watermark, somewhat thicker than the one being used at the time for typographed printing, and with white gum. It is interesting that the characteristics in this recommendation correspond to only one of the 18 papers for Arg3551: the NOP, or opaque paper not in the catalogs from aproximately 1948.
3. The recommended dimensions are: 19 by 24 mm, and 21 by 28 mm.
4. The designs and initial printing quantities recommended are:
1/2c Urquiza (50 millones); 1c Guemes (30 millones); 3c Rodriguez (120 millones); 5c Agricultura (60 millones); 6c Sarmiento (40 millones); 10c Belgrano (300 millones); 15c Mapa (20 millones); 20c Mitre (10 millones); 30c Sugar (12 millones); 35c Cattle (6 millones); 40c Wine-making (10 millones); 50c Velez Sarsfield (6 millones); 1p Oil Industry (2.5 millones); 5p Rivadavia (50000), 10p Moreno (20000), 20p San Martin (10000).
5. Only one design is recommended for the oficial issues, with each denomination having its own color: “The current system, is unappealing and very costly, because it forces specialized printings of the overprints. In addition, the wide range of papers and printings of the stamps and of the very same overprints, cause that collectors seek them, causing a disfunctional inventory, given that they cannot be acquired at post offices...” This memorandum includes other details about the official issues, including proposed values and printing quantities.

The Casa de Moneda (the Argentinean Treasury, in charge of printing stamps) makes the following design and respective denomination recommendations to the Argentinean Post Office on May 23, 1934:
Mitre 1/2c y 1c; Sarmiento 2c; Moreno 10c; Belgrano 5c y 20c; Southern National Park 12c; Sugar 10c; Argentinean Republic, wheat 15c; America and the Argentinean Republic, fruits of the country 5c; Oil 2c; Agriculture 10c; Republic and the farmer 5c; Christ of the Andes 2c; Republic and Shield 12c; Wheat Stalks 5c y 10c; Allegorical figure and wheat 10c; Iguazu Falls 50c. The most interesting fact in this memorandum is mention of Iguazu Falls. This memorandum mentions many designs that were not adopted.

Deluca mentions documents that relate to collaboration between the Argentinean Treasury and the Argentinean Post Office, it which the adopted characteristics are outlined: the use of a small format for the values up to 20c, and of the large format for values 25c and up.

On July 16 of 1934 the Patriot values as we know them from 1/2c to 20c were finalized. Durante the period spanning October 25, 1934 and February 13, 1935 the Resources values as we know them from 25c to 20 pesos were finalized.

On September 14, 1935, the Argentinean Post Office took the following actions:

1. Decides to issue on October 1, 1935 the 1/2c, 1c, 2c, 3c, 4c, 5c, 6c, 10c, 12c, y 20c (fullname version: JMG) values.
2. Demonetizes from January 1, 1936 onwards the previous (San Martin) issue.
3. Allows the exchange of San Martin stamps for the new stamps during the first 90 days of 1936.

On November 22, 1935, the Argentinean Post Office decides to issue the 15c, 25c, 30c, 40c, 50c, 1p with map boundaries, 2p, 5p, 10p, and 20p values January 1, 1936.

According to Deluca, public notice of the new issue “was made by special announcements, and the printing of 5000 stamps for each value.” I speculate that these stamps are the ones we come across with specimen ( “MUESTRA”) overprint.

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