World Stamps

Bolivia’s 1935 regular-issue and airmail sets show maps

Nov 7, 2014, 5 AM

Bolivia ordered a new set of stamps in 1935 from American Bank Note Co., which had apparently outbid the Perkins, Bacon firm that had been printing Bolivian stamps since 1923.

The new stamps consisted of 14 regular-issue (definitive) stamps (Scott 219-232) and 10 airmail stamps (C42-C51), totaling 24 stamps.

The definitives show a map of Bolivia. The airmail stamps show an airplane flying over a slightly smaller map of the country.

The map motif was familiar, having been used by Perkins, Bacon on a 15-centavo carmine lake stamp in 1928 (Scott 191) and on 15c violet and 35c carmine stamps in 1931 (200-201).

American Bank Note received the order in June 1934.

There was just one order and no additional printings.

Accordingly, there is only one variety of specimen overprint.

Predictably, there is little variation in color. The surprising thing is that in the original order both the 5c and 15c definitive stamps were ordered in two different colors and in the same quantities: 500,000 each for the two 5c stamps (in vermilion and in blue green), and 2 million for each of the 15c stamps (in deep rose and in ultramarine).

The stamps were all issued Feb. 1, 1935.

The denominations of the definitives range from 2c to 2 bolivianos, while the values of the airmail stamps extend from 5c to 10b.

Just 200,000 of the 25c light blue, 40c orange and 2b olive brown definitives were printed. Only 100,000 of the 10b dark brown airmail stamp were printed.

The 5c stamp paid the postcard rate to independent countries of the Americas and Spain, while the 15c stamp paid the basic letter rate for 15 grams, with an additional 10c required for each additional 15 grams. The registration fee was 20c.

Airmail fees were quite varied depending upon distance. There were two air routes to Europe: one to New York, then by sea to Europe; and the other by air for the entire journey, via the South Atlantic on French or German airplanes. Air fees were often well over 10b.

Supplies of the 1935 Map series began to run short in 1937. Rather than ordering a new supply from American Bank Note, Bolivia decided to overprint new values on some of the regular stamps of the 1925-33 issues in its vaults, creating Scott 233-235 and 237-238 for the definitive stamps and C52-C56 for the airmails. These surcharged stamps appeared Oct. 6.

New and higher value overprints were ordered at the same time.

The Map series was replaced in 1938 by lithographed stamps printed by Guillermo Kraft of Buenos Aires.