Paper Heritage - Railway Thematics: Cuba Unadopted Essay 1937

Illustrated below is a lot sold for 340.00 in September 2002 at an auction in England. Its source was the archive of the American Bank Note Company, printers of many Latin American postage stamps. This comes from the photographic records of the company and is thought to be the only surviving record of these stamps, whose design wss, of course, never adopted.

Cuba 1937 Essay .
You will notice that the two 'stamps' are not the same. One is a postage value, the other is inscribed for Air Mail (Servicio Aereo) and also features an aircraft. It would appear that the postage value was produced first (perhaps as suggested by the manuscript annotation on December 28th, 1937) and that the design was modified for Air Mail usage on March 1st, 1938. Whether a two-stamp or one-stamp issue was being promulgated is just guesswork, unless some written archive record exists either in Cuba or the ABN Co. surviving records.

It would seem that all copies of these two stamps were destroyed on March 30th, 1962. It seems likely to me that this would probably have amounted either to a few individual proofs or perhaps a proof sheet or two of each value, but with so little information it is pure speculation. As the photographic record, above, is monochrome, we do not even know in what colours any proofs may have been printed. The stamps measure approximately 45 mms x 32 mms each.

These stamps seem to have been prepared a little late for the Centenary of Cuban Railways, as a 25c stamp of 1927 had already been issued on November 18th, 1937, surcharged in green with a locomotive and new value, 10c. Perhaps it was felt inappropriate to make a further issue in 1938, since this would have suggested poor planning / foresight. (No such inhibition affected Guatemala in 1983, when their Railway Centenary, 1880-1980, was celebrated in stamps!)

Whatever the reason for the non-production of these Cuban stamps, it is a pity, as they are an elegant example of traditional stamp design of the period. I do not, incidentally, know who purchased the item at the auction. Any further information about these stamps, though, would, naturally be most welcome - but I fear that collectors are going to have to satisfy themselves with a picture of a photo!

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