World Stamps

Nicaragua Statue of Liberty stamp

May 22, 2014, 3 AM

Nicaragua — Nicaragua straddles the Central American Isthmus south of Honduras and north of Costa Rica. One of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere, it has hardly had a happy moment since gaining independence from Spain in 1821.

Nearly continuous factional fighting led to an invasion by American filibusterers in the 19th century. In 1909, the United States Marines landed and remained until 1933, battling nationalist guerillas.

Following in the wake of the Marines came the despotic Somoza dictatorship, from 1927 to 1979. The revolutionaries who overthrew the Somozas split into Marxist Sandinista and nationalist Contra factions. The Sandinistas seized control, with the Contras launching a civil war against them with U.S. backing. The current president is Daniel Ortega of the Sandinista National Liberation Front.

Also, Nicaragua is in an active volcanic zone and situated on the boundary between two crustal plates, leading to fairly frequent and devastating earthquakes.

Its problems notwithstanding, there is an active market for Nicaraguan stamps. I think the 1940 1.25-cordoba Statue of Liberty airmail stamp (Scott C253) is one of the most beautifully engraved stamps of all time.

The stamp was issued to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Pan American Union. The 2014 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue values the stamp at just 65¢ in unused hinged condition. In 1961, the stamp was overprinted “Convencion-Filatelica-Centro-America-Panama-San Salvador-27 Julio 1961” (Scott C493). This airmail stamp has a Scott catalog value of just 40¢ in mint never-hinged condition. If you have a bit more money to spend, there is an inverted overprint variety (C493a) with a Scott catalog value of $75 in mint never-hinged condition.

With several appealing elements in the design, including the Nicaraguan coastline, an airplane, the flags of the American republics, and a portrait of Leo S. Rowe, the Iowa-born director-general of the Pan American Union, these stamps are of interest to topical collectors, and many U.S. collectors will enjoy owning them.

A Linn’s editor found this week’s recommended stamps on at the following prices:

Nicaragua, C253$1, mint never-hinged, very fine; C493, C493a — not found;

United States, 4766-4769, 4770-4773$5-$7, plate number strips of five.

Tip of the week

United States — The recent U.S. Flags for All Seasons definitive stamps were produced by several different printers in a variety of formats. Recently, the U.S. Postal Service took the coil versions produced by Avery Dennison (Scott 4766-4769) and Ashton Potter (4770-4773) off sale without advance notice.

Dealers are already looking for these varieties in quantity. They are not paying more than face value at present, but look for these versions to go up in value.

I think you might still be able to find these in stock at your local post office. Ask the postal clerks if you can examine the sealed coil rolls. The stamps produced by Avery Dennison are labeled “AD” on the leader strip, and the Ashton Potter stamps are identified as “APU.” Good hunting. — H.G.