World Stamps

Costa Rica issue has something to offer different types of collectors

May 3, 2021, 5 PM

By Thomas P. Myers

On June 18, 1923, Costa Rica issued a set of five stamps (Scott 112-116) honoring Jesus Jimenez Zamora, who had been president of Costa Rica in two separate terms. The date of issue was Jimenez’s birth centenary.

Jimenez was popularly elected in 1863 and served his full term, until 1866, then turned over the office to his democratically elected successor. Two years later, Jimenez overthrew his successor, only to be removed himself by another coup in April 1870.

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All five denominations of the Jimenez issue of 1923 had the same design: a portrait of the former president, in a different color for each denomination. 

The set was printed in limited quantities by the Litografia Nacional in San Jose. There were 150,000 of the 2-centavo value, 50,000 of the 4c, 300,000 of the 5c, 50,000 of the 20c, and just 25,000 of the 1-colon value.

Several color proofs exist of the 5c value. The stamps themselves are not difficult to find, but are quite difficult to locate on a commercially used cover. 

The stamps were printed by lithography in sheets of 50 (10 by five) with the imprint “Litografia Nacional” at the top of the sheet. As mentioned earlier, the stamps were issued June 18, 1923, but were demonetized Dec. 31, 1923, thus remaining in service for just a little more than six months. 

The issued stamps were perforated gauge 11½. There are a variety of perforation errors on the 4c and 5c values, just one on the 20c, and none on the 2c or 1col values. Among the varieties are double perforations and imperforate between; shifted perforations also exist.

Imperforate stamps in this set were not regularly issued but they are widely available. The used examples that I have seen seem to have been canceled to order (CTO). 

The regular stamps were overprinted in black in 1923 for Official use (Scott O65-069), but even the Catalogo de Sellos Postales de Costa Rica specialized catalog edited by Hector Mena does not state the quantity overprinted.

The Official stamps were issued and demonetized on the same dates as the regular stamps, but then their use was extended by an official decree of Nov. 24, 1925. 

Double perforations appear on several denominations of the Official stamps. As with the regular issues, the Officials are quite difficult to find on a commercial cover. Many used examples seem to be canceled to order.

One of the great advantages in collecting Costa Rica is that a wide range of specialty literature is readily available. The specialized catalog edited by Hector Mena is among the best for any Latin American county. 

Most of the other Costa Rica specialized literature, as well as the Mena catalog, is available on disk from Socorico, the Society of Costa Rica Collectors.