World Stamps

Henry Gitner and Rick Miller

Alluring El Salvador 1894 Discoveries of Columbus stamps

August 15, 2018 12:30 PM

  • The high-denomination El Salvador 1894 Discoveries of Columbus stamps (Scott 101-103) are a good buy in original gum condition and very fine grade in the $5-to-$12 price range.

Tip of the Week — By Henry Gitner and Rick Miller

If you love colorful, engraved, usually affordable classic stamps, El Salvador could be for you.

Long a favorite of Christopher Columbus topical collectors, the classic stamps of El Salvador appeal to the eye and the budget.

El Salvador, along with Ecuador, Honduras and Nicaragua, was one of the countries serviced by stamp speculator Nicholas F. Seebeck (1857-99). But many classic Salvadoran stamps issued both before and after Seebeck are equally colorful and compelling. 

In January 1894, El Salvador issued a set of 13 stamps (Scott 91-103) produced by Seebeck’s Hamilton Bank Note Co. The top three denominations (Scott 101-103) are Columbus topicals. The 2019 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue values these three stamps at $3.30 total in unused original gum condition. They are not valued in used condition.

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The Scott Standard catalog notes: “Nos. 101-103 for the discoveries by Columbus. Experts are not positive that these were postally used.”

Because they were issued beyond postal need and because of Seebeck’s ability to produce more of these stamps at will, many contemporary collectors spurned them. 

These high-denomination stamps are not hard to find (although finding them in grades of very fine or better is more difficult) and will never appreciate greatly in value, but there is no denying their appeal. A set in original gum condition and very fine grade is a good buy in the $5-to- $10 price range.