The next six posts will focus on Portugal, its colonies and territories, starting with Ponta Delgada, a city situated on São Miguel Island 740 miles west at sea from its discovering nation. São Miguel is the largest island of the Azores archipelago. “Delicate tip” and “thin cape” are often cited translations of the Portuguese “Ponta Delgada.”
Although uninhabited when the Portuguese discovered São Miguel (1427), it has remains that suggest a Viking presence some 700 years earlier.
Scott’s catalog lists 34 major numbers for Ponta Delgada stamps, plus 17 more for variations in perforations, paper color, and paper quality (enameled or chalky). Big Blue provides 17 spaces on half of a page. All are standard images of King Carlos issued for Portuguese colonies (1892-1905). The second of the two designs (below) illustrates the basic “key plate” variety that allowed for interchangeable colony names and values in black.
The repetitive nature of Portuguese colony stamps may discourage collectors from specialization. Precursors and successors, however, add considerable variety and interest. Before the King Carlos issues, for instance, Portuguese stamps were cancelled in Ponta Delgada with a circular obliterator enclosing the number “50”. Other Azores offshore settlements were also given numbered cancellations – 48 for Angra, 49 for Horta, and 51 for Madeira. These designations were used between 1853 and 1869.
Early precursors tend to be scarce and expensive, although they do turn up occasionally in feeder albums. The second round of precursors are more common. In 1868 Portugal began overprinting stamps for the Azores, of which Ponta Delgada was the capital. Initially the numbered cancels changed from circles to ovals with 42 for Angra, 43 for Horta, and 44 for Ponta Delgada.(1) Later, common circular cancels came into use with Ponta Delgada spelled out. Madeira had its own overprint issues separate from the Azores.
The Azores overprints continued until 1931 and, apparently, were used simultaneously with the Ponta Delgada King Carlos issues (1892-1905). The Azores stamps with Ponta Delgada cancels are, therefore, both precursors and successors.
After 1931 the bulk of Ponta Delgada mail was franked with standard issue Portuguese stamps.
Besides precursors and successors, Ponta Delgada stamps can participate in other specializations. When Jim first posted his 2015 Ponta Delgada comment (click here), I remarked about the Frenchman Louis-Eugène Mouchon who designed the key plate stamps. His name is inscribed at the bottom. He also designed stamps for Abyssinia, Argentina, Belgium, Greece, Guatemala, Luxemburg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Persia, Russia and Serbia, as well as Portuguese coins and currency plates. I have never seen a specialized Mouchon collection but can easily imagine one.
Census: 17 in BB spaces, five on supplement page
The first issue was released between 1892-93, and has the image of King Carlos. The Scott catalogue breaks the issue down to 12 major numbers and 16 bolded minor numbers. They differ by perforation, and paper (enamel surfaced, chalky). Most, but not all, of the Perf 12 1/2 stamps are given major numbers. The CV for both the major and minor varieties range from <$1-$30 for 28 stamps.