Costa Rica: The Earliest Recorded Usage of a Postage Stamp

This article appeared in “The Mainsheet”, Volume N. 92. November 1998

By: Mimi T. Moorhouse 




The decree authorising the ‘medio real’ blue and the ‘dos reales’ red postage stamps became law 9th September 1862 and an order for the stamps was placed with the American Bank Note Company in New York in October 1862. The two values were printed and shipped to San Jose in February 1863. The exact date of issue is unknown but it has always been assumed that, allowing for delivery time from New York and for distribution time in Costa Rica, it probably would have been sometime in March 1863 at the earliest. The Hector Mena catalogue actually quotes 11th April 1863 as a probable first day of issue.

The illustrated entire letter was sent from Jesus Guevara in Cartago to his brother, Senor Don Modesto Guevara, in San Jose and was franked with a single ‘medio real’ to pay the single internal letter rate (for up to a half an ounce in weight). The stamp is cancelled with an underlined straight line CARTAGO marking which was originally employed as a pre-stamp marking in the 1855-1863 period. The letter is dearly dated inside ‘Abril 21 de 1863’ making it the earliest recorded usage of a Costa Rican stamp.

Editor’s note about changes from the original article:

  • The black and white image of the cover was change for a full-colour one.
  • The last name of the sender was change to “GUEVARA” instead of GRUVAIA as written in the original article.
  • The original date in the article was “Abril 24 de 1863”, but it has been change to “Abril 21 de 1863”.