Cuba first started issuing its stamps in 1855, in cooperation with Puerto Rico. Not surprisingly, Spain's Queen Isabella II ordered her portrait to be displayed on all regular stamps, as Spain still owned Cuba at that time. As Spain's first, and so far only, female monarch, her image appeared on the stamps until her abdication in 1868. The word Cuba did not appear on the country's stamps until 1877.
The Spanish monarch Alfonso XII could be seen on the stamps from 1876 until 1880, even though he had died in 1885.
His son, Alfonso XII, was then depicted on the stamps, in a rather unflattering light. As a result of his receded hairline, shown clearly on the stamps, he was given the name el pelo, meaning baldie.
Cuba gained independence from Spain in 1898, when America intervened to aid the liberation of the nation. However, it was not until 1902 that the country finally became free from control when the United States left it to become an independent republic.
The Cuban government issued stamps from its inception in 1902 until Fidel Castro took power on January 1, 1959. The first issue was released on September 30, 1902.
There were no stamps yet printed by Cuba, but they had many of the little used 3¢ allegory stamps of 1899. They choose to overprint these stamps to meet the 1¢ postal rate demand by overprinting a large numeral "1" on each stamp with the legend "UN CENTAVO" "HABILITADO" and "OCTUBRE 1902". Cubans continued to use the allegory stamps of 1899.
Cuban philatelic societies
Currently, there are two main philatelic groups which study historical Cuban stamps, which are the International Cuban Philatelic Society, and the Cuban Philatelic Society of America.
Stamps by country
Great Britain was the first country to issue a pre-paid postage stamp on May 1 1840, followed by the Canton of Zurich in Switzerland, and then Brazil. Since then stamps have been issued by the majority of countries worldwide. The European country of San Marino lists postage stamps as it's most valuable export.
A stamp dealer is a person or business that trades in postage stamps. Dealers often specialise in certain areas, from themes such as chess on stamps, to countries or historical periods.
In the United Kingdom the Philatelic Traders' Society issues a code of ethics for stamp dealers to abide by.
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