A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Puerto Rico

1884 Scott 56 1/2m lake "Alfonso XII"
Quick History
The island of Puerto Rico in the West Indies was, like Cuba, under Spanish Dominion from November 19, 1493 ( Christopher Columbus second voyage) until 1898, when Spain was obligated to cede the island to the United States following the Spanish-American War.

Puerto Rico
The capital is San Juan, and the population was 953,000 in 1899.

Stamps of Cuba overprinted in black were used in Puerto Rico in 1873, and the Spanish colony received its own issues beginning in 1877. U.S. administration overprinted issues began in 1898, but were replaced by those of the United States in 1900.

U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans was granted in 1917.

To this day Puerto Rico remains a U.S. territory, but a plebiscite vote in 2012 favored becoming a state.

1894 Scott 124 20c carmine rose "Alfonso XIII"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Puerto Rico, 195 major number descriptions for 1873-1900. The count does not include stamps of Cuba, Spain , and Great Britain cancelled in Puerto Rico between 1855-1877, and given an "A" prefix bold numbers in the catalogue.

Of the 195 major number descriptive count, 105, or 54% are CV <$1-$1+.. Many of the 1890-97 and 1898 "Alfonso XIII" long run of stamps are at minimum catalogue value.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centimes = 1 Peseta
1000 Milesimas = 100 Centavos = 1 Peso (1881)
100 Cents = 1 Dollar (1898)

Between 1873-1876, twelve Cuban stamps were overprinted for use in Puerto Rico. There are four types of overprints. The modest CV ranges from $1+-$10+ for these stamps. Unfortunately, I have a lacuna in my collection for these issues and can offer no examples at the moment.

1877 Scott 16 25c ultramarine "King Alfonso XII"
The stamp designs during the Spanish Dominion era for Puerto Rico should be familiar to collectors, as they were used throughout the Spanish colonies.

The above design was used for Cuba also, except in different colors.

The 1877 issue has five stamps and CV is $2+-$10+.
1879 Scott 27 50c dark green "King Alfonso XII"
The same design was used subsequently in 1878 and 1879, merely substituting the year date. The colors, though, were different.

The 1879 issue has six stamps, and the CV is $2+-$6+ for five stamps.
1882 Scott 59 2m violet "Alfonso XII"
The 1882-86  issue had 20 stamps, and proved to be the last of Alfonso XII for Puerto Rico.

He died of tuberculosis and dysentery in 1885 at the age of 27. Even a king could not avoid the ravages of infectious disease in the 19th century.

But his second wife was pregnant with a son....
1894 Scott 81 1m ultramarine "Alfonso XIII"
Alfonso XIII was a monarch from birth, and these stamp portraits show him at age four. His mother, Maria Christina of Austria, served as regent until his 16th birthday in 1902. During the regent period, Spain lost her larger colonies- Cuba, and the Philippines, and of course Puerto Rico- because of the Spanish-American War.

The "baby" 1890-97 Alfonso issue consisted of a long run of 58 stamps, many still at minimum CV.
1898 Scott 142 3c dark brown "Alfonso XIII"
The adolescent Alfonso XIII (twelve years old) visage was produced on 20 stamps in 1898. Many are at minimum CV. This would be the last non overprinted set for Spanish Puerto Rico.
1898 Scott 156 2m yellow green "Alfonso XIII"
Stamps of 1890-97 Handstamped in Rose or Violet
In 1898, a 17 handstamped overprinted "Habilitado para 1898 y 99" set was issued. The overprint is in a rose color, except for the 8c carmine rose, which is in violet. Twelve stamps are inexpensive (<$1- $4+), while five stamps are CV $7+-$20+. Scott has a note that "Counterfeits abound".
1899 Scott 211 2c reddish carmine Type IV
United States Scott 279Bf overprinted at 36 degree angle
The U.S. era's regular issues began in 1899 with five stamps overprinted "Porto Rico" at a 36 degree angle, although the 1c yellow green, 2c reddish carmine Type IV, and 8c violet brown are also found at a 25 degree angle. CV ranges from $1+-$10+.  In addition, three postage due overprinted stamps were issued.

In 1900, the 1c yellow green and the 2c red Type IV were overprinted "Puerto Rico".
1898 War Tax Scott MR10 5c on 1m dark violet, Rose Surcharge
In 1898, the Spanish Dominion, in an effort to raise funds for the war, reissued thirteen 1890-94 stamps- handstamped "Impuesto de Guerra". The overprints and surcharges are in purple, rose or magenta colors.

These are War Tax stamps- 2c additional surcharge for letters, 5c for telegrams. Apparently, they were also accepted as ordinary postage.

CV is <$1- $5+.
In 1900, stamps of Puerto Rico were replaced by those of the United States.

Deep Blue
1890-97 "baby" Alfonso issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 10 pages for Puerto Rico plus 2 pages for semiofficial airmails (1938-40) which are not in the Scott Classic catalogue. All major numbers have a space.

1898 Scott 145 6c dark blue "Alfonso XIII"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on three pages, has 121 stamp spaces. Coverage is a robust 62%.

The inexpensive 1890-97 baby "Alfonso" stamps have 45 spaces, but 5 stamps @ CV <$1-$1+ are missing.

There are only two "expensive stamps", but the J3 U.S. overprinted postage due of 1899 is $60. !











65,67 or 68 or 69,70,71,72,


Next Page








Next Page


War Tax

Issued under American Dominion



Postage Due

A) Expensive stamps ($10threshold):
1873 Scott 3 1p red brown ($10+)
1899 Scott J3 10c deep claret ($60)
B) (   ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.
C) Note: Be aware that there are a number of color description discrepancies between the '69 BB and the  modern Scott catalogue. As it did not lead to confusion, I put them in the checklist without comment.
1882 Scott 62 8m yellow green "Alfonso XII" 
Out of the Blue
The juxtaposition of stamps and war always makes for fascination.
Note: Map image appears to be in the public domain.
Have a comment?


  1. Hi Jim,

    do you have any idea what's the line cancel with your #100? It stands out from the crowd (in a good way IMHO)....


  2. Hi Keijo

    No idea. ;-)

    (letter(s))A Y HE(letter(s))

    Y = "and" in Spanish

    The 2c red brown was issued in 1892, according to Scott.