The following is derived from "The stamps of Mexico 1856 - 1868" by Samuel Chapman (1976), the 1998 Follansbee catalog, the Celis Cano catalog (in Spanish) and Vernon P. Turnburke, Jr.'s great work "Plate varieties of the Medio Real, 1856". Another great source of information has been discussions on the Meximail forum, as well as private correspondence with knowledgeable philatelists. Contributors include: Ray Ameen*, Victoria Benozio, Tony Benz, Bubba Bland, Charlie Carpenter, Juan Diaz, Nicholas Follansbee, Manuel Iglesias, John Kordich, Gerry Leverant, Roberto Liera, Francisco Llamosa, Andre Navari, David Olson, Fernando Perez-Maldonado, John Stippich, Doug Stout*, Joe D. Stuart* and Bill Wagner. There are many more knowledgable philatelists who contributed via Meximail. Thanks to all of you.
I will do my best to update this list to reflect the names of everybody who has contributed in any way, and apologize in advance if I have forgotten any of you.
All errors and omissions are solely the responsibility of the author.
If you are interested in the stamps of Mexico you should visit the MEPSI website at http://www.mepsi.org
A nice collection is on display at The Asian Philatelist Hidalgo 1856 First Issue
NOTE: The above mentioned page often disappears (the link is broken). If so, you may try to go to the main site (hopefully) at http://www.asianphilatelist.org/
The president of Mexico, Don Ignacio Comonfort, authorized the introduction of prepayment of postage using adhesive stamps by decree of February 21, 1856. New regulations were drawn up, and were supposed to be made public on July 15, but problems with the engraving, and therefore the production, of the stamps delayed this until July 31. On August 1, 1856 Mexico issued its first postage stamps.
Five values were issued, featuring the same design, an image
of Mexico's folk hero Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. A short
biography is available on the Internet at
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50 principal districts in addition to the central office in Mexico City were in existence at the time these stamps were issued. This number varied slightly over time. The area covered by the individual districts as well as the number of sub-offices and postoffices also varied considerably.
A unique scheme was deviced to protect the postal revenue: in order to have validity, the stamps had to be overprinted with the district name at the district offices upon receipt. Stamps without overprints were not valid for postage. However, any overprinted stamp was valid in any one of the districts. Covers are known with stamps originating from two different districts.
This simple scheme ensured that stamps lost or stolen could not be used to deprive the postal service of revenue.
Sometimes the stamps were used in the mails without an overprint. This was probably due to ignorance, oversight or a misunderstanding of the postal regulations.
There are still lots of questions regarding the early issues of Mexican stamps. This site is by no means the definitive guide, nor does it give all the answers. Perhaps it even asks more questions than it gives answers, giving you the opportunity to get involved and possibly solve some of these questions.
[*Note]: Sadly, these fine men have passed on.