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...

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Colombia 1899-1904: Cartagena and Barranquilla Issues

Cartagena 1902 Scott 193 20c maroon 
Magenta Overprint
Into the Deep Blue
We have, so far, taken a look at some of Colombia's earlier issues....

Colombia 1859-1870 - a closer look
Colombia 1871-1883 - a closer look

I could continue chronologically with another post, but I'm going to jump ahead a bit to the 1899-1904 era: The time of the Thousand Days' War (Oct 17, 1899 - Nov 21, 1902).


This little known civil war (for those outside Colombia) fractured the national government (Republic of Colombia). In fact, there were no national postal issues released between 1900-1902.

With fatalities well over 100,000, this war was the most bloody of any conflict ever for Colombia. It eventually led to the loss of Panama as a territory within Colombia in 1903.


With no national stamp production, provisionals were released by the cities of Cartagena, Barranquilla, and Medellin between 1899-1904.

This is a fascinating period for the philatelist, and deserves a closer look.

To that end, we will look at some of the (admittedly fairly crude lithographic) issues of Cartagena and Barranquilla.

If the following stamp examples from my collection whet your appetite, then check out the award winning Philatelic exhibit ("Colombia - The Unknown War " The 1000 Days"") by James Cross.

A Closer Look
100 Centavos = 1 Peso

1899 Scott 172 5c maroon/greenish blue
Sewing Machine Perf./ Purple Overprint
The military government for the Department of Bolivar, under martial law, issued provisional stamps to cover stamp shortages as they developed. 

This example is from a 1899 five stamp (major number Scott 169-173) release from Cartagena. It was lithographed by Eugene Delgado in Cartagena, and released Dec 8, 1899. It can be found with a sewing machine perf. or Perf 12.

The stamp usually is found with a seven parallel wavy line purple overprint (as a security measure). Considering how crude the lithographic print is, a security measure was probably a good idea. ;-) In fact, almost all of Cartagena's stamp output shows control marks (overprints) as a security measure.

The CV ranges from $10+ to $60.

1900 Scott 177 5c black/pink
Lithographed/ Perf 12 vertically
In 1900, a five stamp set with the above design was released from Cartagena. Note "Gobierno Provisorio" at top. CV is nominally $6-$8.

These stamps were also used by the rebel provisional government in Cucuta. They have "Gobierno Provisional" at top. They can also be distinguished by a vertical name (Andres B. Fernandes) along the side of the stamp in black or green. CV is $5-$8.

1901 Scott 185 1c black
Sewing Machine Perf./Purple Overprint
In 1901, a 1c black and a 2c black/rose was issued as above. Note the characteristic purple overprint.

CV is a very modest $1.

1901 Scott 188 2c brown
Rose Overprint
Another 1901 two stamp issue (above and 1c blue) was released with a characteristic rose overprint.

CV is $1.

1902 Scott 189 5c violet
Magenta Overprint
The 1902 issue of two stamps (other one is a 10c yellow brown) has a magenta star overprint.

CV is $2+.

1902 Scott 191 5c yellow brown
Magenta Overprint
The other 1902 issue has three stamps: as above, a 10c black, a 20c maroon (post header stamp).

CV is $1+-$4+.


1902-03 Scott 195 2c dark blue "Magdalena River"
The Barranquilla provisionals began in 1902 with a twelve stamp three design set.

The set was lithographed from a design by Francesco Valiente F. of Barranquilla.

This stamp has great detail.

1902-03 Scott 196 2c rose"Magdalena River"
This stamp's detail: not so much.

Of interest, the CV for the 2c rose is $20+, while seven other stamps in the set are $1+-$3+.

1902-03 Scott 200 10c maroon
"Iron Quay at Sabanilla"
The 10c stamp design shows "Iron Quay at Sabanilla".

I note this 10c maroon might have a plate flaw (white dot to left of "10").

1903-04 Scott 243 10c dark blue/salmon
"Iron Quay at Sabanilla"/ Laid Paper Imperf.
The 10c design was also issued between 1903-04 in dark blue on six different colored papers - each given a major number (Scott 240-245) for imperforate examples. There are also minor numbers for Perf 12 examples.

These stamps were on horizontally laid paper.

Horizontal Laid Paper - Imperf.
You should be able to see the horizontal lines on the stamp back indicating the laid paper.

1902-03 Scott 202b 20c purple "La Popa Hill"
Sewing Machine Perf.
The imperf stamps on non colored paper (1902-03 issue) can also be found with sewing machine perf (as above) and perf 12 (below).

Note the "La Popa Hill" design for the 20c denomination stamps.

1902-03 Scott 203a 20c dull blue "La Popa Hill"
Perf 12
Here is an example of Perf 12 on a 20c dull blue. The Imperfs are major numbers, while the sewing Machine perf and Perf 12 are minor numbers. The Steiner album pages provides spaces for all of these minor numbers.

1903-04 Scott 210 5c bister "Cruiser "Cartagena""
A new lithographic imperforate issue (major numbers) with sixteen stamps and five designs was released by Barranquilla between 1903-04.

The set is both interesting and crude.

1903-04 Scott 214 50c carmine/ Imperf.
If I didn't know better, I would think this is a crude forgery. But I believe it is genuine. ;-)

1903-04 Scott 214a 50c rose/ Imperf.
The Scott catalogue lists a rose color for the 50c denomination, and gives it a minor number.

1903-04 Scott 215 50c pale brown/ Imperf.
On the other hand, Scott has "pale brown" as a major number. But...

1903-04 Scott 215 50c brown "shade"/ Imperf.
....somehow this very dark brown shade merits no notice. What the ???? 

1903-04 Scott 216 1p yellow brown
"General Prospero Pinzon"
General Pinzon was an army general for the conservative government faction during the War of a 1000 Days.

He is on the 1 peso denomination, which is found in four colors (major numbers).

1903-04 Scott 221 5p pale brown
The 5p denomination was printed in three colors (Major numbers).

CV for the issue ranges from $1+ to $20+.

1903-04 Scott 223 10p pale green 
This is certainly not the finest lithographic print ever seen. ;-)

Yet crude prints reveal a tangible history of the times.

1903-04 "Scott 222a" 5p blue green
Perf Forgery: 10.5 rather than 12
The 1903-04 issue can also be found with Perf 12, minor numbers in Scott. The CV for the Perf 12 stamps are higher ( $5+-$70+) than the usual Imperf examples.

Unfortunately there are perf forgeries also known: I have a Perf 10.5 stamp- a forgery.

1903-04 Scott 222 5p blue green/ Imperf.
Out of the Blue
The combination of a civil war, provisional issues, and crude examples makes for a fascinating era.

Colombia, in my view, is somewhat still unexplored territory for the collector.

It is hard to obtain detailed and useful information about the issues.

Copaphil*, the philatelic study group dedicated to Colombia and Panama states...

"The listings in Scott Catalog are incomplete; European catalogs include additional listings, some controversial. In depth information about Colombian philately can be difficult to locate as much of it has been published in journals with limited circulation and availability." 

*Copaphil - unfortunately the link I embedded for the post is not working at this time (10-14-2020). I hope this is not a bad sign. :-(

So, if you wish an adventure, Colombia can provide it!

Note: R.I.P. Gerben - We miss you terribly. As I had general permission to use Gerben's maps for my educational blog site, I have taken advantage to show off one of his superb examples here. Unfortunately, his web site is no longer available.

Comments appreciated!


  1. One of the big reasons I read all your posts is that frequently you add links that lead in new directions and new material. The Exponent exhibit website was unknown to me until I followed your link. Now have found some excellent material to study, new reference books to find, etc. Thanks to both Jim and Bud for expanding my knowledge, even in a post about a coun try I don't (right now) collect.



    1. Roy - thanks. Yes the Exponent exhibit site has lots to explore!

  2. My thanks, too, Roy. Excellent new sites keep popping up.

  3. Your treatment of the stamp issues of the 1000 Days' War certainly ramped up my interest. In fact, it motivated me to pick up an assortment of different issues of these primitive looking stamps. What's not to love about sewing machine perfs and a DIY attitude?

    1. The Provisorio and Provisional stamps were issued and used in CUCUTA not Catagena

    2. lipaugus
      The stamps I illustrate including the provisional issues for Cartegena WERE issued by Cartegena. If I am wrong, then Scott catalgue is wrong also. ;-)

      If you read my post, you will note I also said: "in 1900, a five stamp set with the above design was released from Cartagena. Note "Gobierno Provisorio" at top. CV is nominally $6-$8.

      These stamps were also used by the rebel provisional government in Cucuta. They have "Gobierno Provisional" at top. They can also be distinguished by a vertical name (Andres B. Fernandes) along the side of the stamp in black or green. CV is $5-$8.You will note that my example DOES NOT have the name only the side: Therefore a Cartagena issue, and NOT from the Cucuta rebels.