Old postal stamps from Argentina are among the rarest stamps in the world. They are not prized for their beauty, since many of them are crudely made and there is little consistency between them which is, of course, what makes them rare and valuable.
The rarity of the stamps is related to the history of Argentina following their civil war in the 1850s. Instead of a centralized government, Argentina was broken into mostly independent provinces which produced their own stamps. Due to a shortage of metal and paper, currency of low values was difficult to get and stamps were not simply used as postage, but as money.
The earliest Argentine stamps were issued by the provinces of Corrientes, Cordoba and Buenos Aires.
The Corrientes are the rarest and most valuable of these provincial stamps. The dies were engraved by hand and there were quite noticeable differences between them. The stamps were printed on brightly colored paper using the typography process and were a copy of an early French stamp featuring the head of the Roman goddess, Ceres.
The original stamp was issued in 1856 with a value of one real. In 1860 the value was increased to 3 reals and the one real denomination was inked out by hand and revalued. There were also two, three and five centavo stamps issued during this period, with the 5 centavo stamp being the rarest.
Early Stamps for the Republic of Argentina
The first national stamp of Argentina was issued in 1858 and was a lithographed representation of the seal of Confederation. A new stamp issued in 1862 featured the seal of the republic. During the period 1862 to 1892, the Argentine stamp featured 24 different designs, mostly commemoratives
Tierra del Fuego Local Argentina Stamps
In 1891, mining engineer Julius Popper designed and printed stamps for the cost of postage between the widely scattered mining camps in the Tierra del Fuego region.
Mail which was directed to the Argentine or Chilean postal service had to bear government stamps as well since the governments did not recognize the local stamps.
These “Popper Locals” are among the most collectible of Argentina stamps and in good condition are valued at about $60.00 U.S.
Mid Twentieth Century Changes
President Juan Peron nationalized and centralized the postal and telegraph services of Argentina in 1946.
The Enco Tel became the only body with the authority to issue Argentine postal stamps. After the fall of the last Argentine military dictatorship in 1983, the stamps of the country underwent a radical change and began featuring more sophisticated designs including botanical and zoological themes.
Valuing rare Argentina stamps can be difficult and the best source is probably the Scott catalog which is available at most local libraries. Online philatelist blogs and websites may offer additional information on rare South American stamps.