World Stamps

Spain’s Cervantes Official mail set of interest to a variety of collectors

Apr 13, 2023, 2 PM
Spain’s 1916 Cervantes Official mail set is one of the most beautiful Official mail sets ever issued.

Stamp Market Tips by Henry Gitner and Rick Miller

On April 22, 1916, Spain issued the Cervantes Official mail stamps (Scott O12-O19), one of the world’s most beautiful Official mail stamp sets.

The engraved bicolor set commemorates the life and work of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616).

Around 1570, he became a soldier. While serving in a Spanish Naval Infantry Regiment, he was badly wounded at the Battle of Lepanto in the Holy League’s victory against the Ottoman navy on Oct. 7, 1571.

Continuing to serve in the military, he was captured by Barbary pirates in 1575 and was held in durance vile for five years until being ransomed.

Taking up residence in Madrid after his release, he began to write fiction in his spare time while working as a tax collector. His novel Don Quixote, published in two parts in 1605 and 1615, is considered by many to be the greatest work of fiction in the Spanish language.

In a remarkable example of fateful coincidence, he died on April 22, 1616, one day before the death of his great English contemporary, William Shakespeare.

The designs of the nondenominated Official stamps feature the Spanish Chamber of Deputies, a statue of Cervantes, the National Library, and a portrait of Cervantes.

Four of the stamps (Scott O12-O15) were for use by the Spanish Senate, and the other four (O16-O19) were for use by the Chamber of Deputies.

In addition to collectors of Spain and colonies, this set is of interest to fine arts and literature topical collectors.

The Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps and Covers 1840-1940 values the set in very fine grade and unused, hinged condition at just $8.80. The set is a good buy at full catalog value. A set in mint, never-hinged condition is a good buy at around $14.

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