Ecuador - Postal Tax on Tobacco Revenue Train / Locomotive design

Between 1920 and 1957, the Ecuador postal authorities issued many Obligatory Tax stamps, in order to raise funds for various projects and causes. Typically, postal workers' charities, natural disasters and other welfare needs are the beneficiaries of the extra monies raised. Some of Ecuador's obligatory tax stamps were for funding National Defence, not too dissimilar from other countries issuing War Tax stamps.

Such stamps are quite different to, say, Swiss Pro Juventute stamps, where the sender chooses to support a charity by purchasing stamps sold at a premium above their postal value. Whilst Obligatory Tax stamps are also an additional fee on top of the normal postage charge, they differ in that they must be affixed to letters as and when stipulated by the post office. Depending on the country, obligatory tax stamps may be mandatory on, for example, certain days or certain classes of mail. Our article on the obligatory tax stamps of Yugoslavia and Macedonia (q.v.) describes how such stamps appeared annually for many years to raise funds for the victims of the Skopje earthquake,

The majority of the Ecuador obligatory tax stamps are overprints and surcharges on various revenue (fiscal) stamps, rather than on previously issued postage stamps. Amongst these revenues, Ecuador appears to have had a very large surplus supply of 1c rose-red Tobacco Tax stamps of the Ferrocarril Puerto Bolivar, this being the Puerto Bolivar in Ecuador, not its namesake in Colombia. The extensive postal-related use of this 1c stamp prompted this article, above all because of the lacklustre treatment by mainstream catalogues of all these issues.

This article has three main sections, with check-boxes provided for the stamps. It makes no claim to being complete but simply shows stamps and varieties known to us.
1. The original Tobacco Tax stamp
2. The numerous post office overprints and surcharges
3. Non-postal overprints

1. The Original Tobacco Tax stamp :

The stamp, produced by the American Banknote Co (ABN Co.) exists both Perf 12 and Rouletted. We cannot be certain as to the relative scarcity of the two types in their original form, but, except for the 1924 CASA-CORREOS overprint, which is found in both perforations, all other post office usage of these stamps is on the rouletted stamp. So far as we can ascertain, when perforating all these stamps, the outer edges were left imperforate.

Original Tax stamps

The rouletted and Perf 12 stamps, as issued, plus the same with SPECIMEN overprints and small punch holes. Note that the SPECIMEN overprint on the perforated stamp is larger (13.5 x 2.5 mms) than on the rouletted example (11.5 x 2 mms)

1c Original Tobacco Tax stamp, Perf 12 [ . ]
- ditto - overprinted SPECIMEN [ . ]
1c Original Tobacco Tax stamp, Rouletted [ . ]
- ditto - overprinted SPECIMEN
[ . ]


2. The Post Office Surcharges and Overprints :

1924 : Overprinted CASA - CORREOS : Perf 12 : SG 407b ; Scott Unlisted in Perf 12 ; Michel Z.17A

Perf 12 stamps

This is a very scarce stamp, whether mint or used, and hugely undervalued by all catalogues. In our opinion, USD 100 for a mint hinged example of the Perf 12 stamp would not be an unreasonable price for this stamp. In our experience, the varieties (overprint double or overprint inverted) are perhaps slightly easier to find than the regular stamp. Note: The bottom right stamp in the scan has overprint double, but one on top of the other.

1c optd CASA-CORREOS Perf 12 [ . ]
- ditto - Overprint Double (widely spaced) [ . ]
- ditto - Overprint Double (very close-spaced) [ . ]
- ditto - Overprint Inverted [ . ]

Perf 12 cover
Above is the only example that we have seen of the Perf 12 CASA - CORREOS on cover, scarce, albeit on a curiously late usage (1932) first flight cover, clearly the work of a philatelist. It has an IBARRA arrival postmark on the back, despite the destination town being covered by an airmail vignette.


1924 : Overprinted CASA - CORREOS : Rouletted : SG 407 ; Scott RA18 ; Michel Z.17C

CASA CORREOS Rouletted stamps

SG, Scott and Michel all list this, the rouletted stamp, and with the variety Overprint Inverted as well. However, none of these catalogues mention the two totally different type faces used. Most of the printing is in the style of the left-hand stamp (and of the inverted opt) with tall, narrow letters. The stamp in the middle has very much more rounded letters C R and O.

1c optd CASA-CORREOS Rouletted - tall, thin letters [ . ]
- ditto - Overprint Inverted [ . ]
- ditto - Overprint Double, one cheval [ . ]
1c optd CASA-CORREOS Rouletted - flatter, rounded letters [ . ]


1936 : Surcharged Seguro Social / del Campesino 3 ctvs. : SG 525 ; Scott RA32; Michel Z.30

(For the same surcharge in capital letters, see next entry) : Issued to raise monies for the Social Insurance Fund for Rural Workers, as were many Obligatory Tax stamps in Ecuador.

Seguro Social 006
Seguro Social 007

The listing Surcharge Double below (i.e. a normal double surcharge with both surcharges horizontal) is based on the first stamp in the second row where the '3 ctvs.' is double. This strongly suggests that the stamp to the left of the one illustrated had surcharge double, both horizontal, although, as yet, the author has not seen complete proof of this.
The right-hand stamp on the second row has the original stamp printed double, virtually one on top of the other, but it is clearly a double print when the letters 'A' of 'AMERICAN' in the imprint are examined, although this may not be clear from the scan provided.

3c/1c surcharged Seguro Social etc. [ . ]
- ditto - Original stamp PRINTED DOUBLE (deep red appearance) [ . ]
- ditto - Imperf vertically (horiz. pair) [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double - see text above [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge misplaced - del Campesino at top [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double, one Diagonal (a pair and differing block/4 shown) [ . ]

- ditto - Lines of Surcharge Transposed [ . ]
- ditto - Lines of Surcharge Transposed and partly cheval [ . ]

- ditto - 'd' of 'del' damaged [ . ]


1936 : Surcharged SEGURO SOCIAL / DEL CAMPESINO 3 ctvs. : SG 526 ; Scott RA34; Michel Z.31

(All except the value in the surcharge now in CAPITAL LETTERS) : These seem to have been surcharged with rather more care, but there are still varieties to be found.

Perf 12 stamps

3c/1c surcharged SEGURO SOCIAL etc. [ . ]
- ditto - 'S' of 'SEGURO' omitted [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge cheval (horizontally) [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double, one cheval [ . ]
- ditto - figure '3' above 't' of 'ctvs' (usually above 'tv') [ . ]


1936 : Surcharged P O S T A L : SG 527 ; Scott 346; Michel 353


This is not an Obligatory Tax stamp, but overprinted for use as a normal postage 1c value.

1c overprinted POSTAL [ . ]
- ditto - Imperf vertically (horiz. pair) [ . ]
- ditto - Flaw through 'PO' of 'POSTAL' [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double - closely spaced [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double - widely spaced [ . ]


1936 : Surcharged TIMBRE PATRIOTICO / DIEZ CENTAVOS : SG 541 ; Scott RA 37; Michel Z.35

An extensively used obligatory tax stamp with many varieties.


- ditto - ERROR surcharged TIMBRE PATRIOTICO / TIMBRE PATRIOTICO (scarce) [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge cheval [ . ]
- ditto - Final 'O' of 'PATRIOTICO' open at top and bottom [ . ]
- ditto - Final 'O' of 'PATRIOTICO' open at top only [ . ]
- ditto - Damaged 'T' in 'TIMBRE' [ . ]

- ditto - Surcharge Double, one Diagonal (downwards) [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double, one Diagonal in pair with normal [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double, both horizontal, wide-spaced [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double, one Diagonal (upwards) [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double, both horizontal, narrow-spaced [ . ]

- ditto - Surcharge Triple, two horizontal, one diagonally downwards [ . ]
- ditto - Original stamp PRINTED DOUBLE and Imperf vertically (horiz. pair) [ . ]
- ditto - With punch hole - see scan and note below [ . ]


Note : This is a curious stamp. The punch hole is irregular, in a style commonly used by the American Bank Note Company for its file copies and specimens. These stamps would typically be retained in the printers' archive, but a sheet or two may have been sent to Ecuador as specimens. Even if this were the case, it would be most unusual for the post office to surcharge the punched stamps for postal use. Maybe a specimen sheet had been accidentally filed with the normal sheets. The stamp has no gum and appears to be very lightly cancelled, but it is a tired stamp and it may just be dirty, but it is most probably used. The punch hole may be private, of course, but the small size of the punch hole, and its irregularity, are much more consistent with an archive punch than an office punch. Information on this stamp would be welcome.


1939 : Surcharged POSTAL ADICIONAL / CINCO CENTAVOS : SG 623 ; Scott RA 44; Michel Z.43

The more one examines this stamp, the more one uncovers further complexities. There appear to be several printings and variations within printings. There are, it seems, three width settings between the two lines of overprint, 2.5 mms (common), 3.5 mms (common), 4.2 mms (not common).

On almost all the stamps, the letters 'A' of the surcharge have a 'roof' on them, a flat horizontal line. However, stamps in the 2.5 mm spacing are also found with pointed letters 'A'. An example is shown below, on a separately scanned stamp. It has inverted surcharge but has been illustrated here in the best manner in which to display the pointed 'A's. We have not seen it with surcharge upright but it probably exists.

There are other font varieties, notably a 2.5mm spacing example with the words CINCO CENTAVOS larger than POSTAL ADICIONAL. This was received with a notation that it is from Position 25.

We may return to this issue later, if more information comes to light (this written in 2017).


Scan above (with some detail based on deduction where part of a surcharge is missing) :
Lines 1 and 2 : 2.5 mm spacing between lines of surcharge.
Lines 3 and 4 : 3.5 mm spacing between lines of surcharge
Line 6 : First stamp 3.5 mm spacing; last two stamps 4.2mm spacing

5c/1c Surcharged POSTAL ADICIONAL / CINCO CENTAVOS 2.5mm spacing [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge shifted upwards (foot of sheet), POSTAL ADICIONAL omitted [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge shifted, CINCO CENTAVOS at top [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double, both horizontal [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double, one diagonal [ . ]
- ditto - CINCO CENTAVOS in larger font (stated to be Posn. 25) [ . ]

5c/1c Surcharged POSTAL ADICIONAL / CINCO CENTAVOS 3.5mm spacing [ . ]
- ditto - Original Stamp PRINTED DOUBLE (deep red) [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge shifted, CINCO CENTAVOS at top [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Triple, one on top of the other, the third faint [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Triple, spaced, one faint. [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double, one Diagonally downwards [ . ]

5c/1c Surcharged POSTAL ADICIONAL / CINCO CENTAVOS 4.2mm spacing ** [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double [ . ]

** The surcharge appears to have been applied so as to align with the (poor) perforating, not with the stamp design.


Surcharge with pointed letters 'A'.

5c/1c Surcharged POSTAL ADICIONAL / CINCO CENTAVOS - POINTED 'A's (assumed) [ . ]
- ditto - Surchage Inverted [ . ]


1940 : Surcharged CASAS DE CORREOS / Y TELEGRAFOS / CINCO CENTAVOS : SG 624 ; Scott RA 45; Michel Z.44

Some collectors claim that there are two sizes of surcharge for this stamp but we are not yet convinced that this is not simply natural variants in the letters in the printers' font tray, combined with different levels of inking. The last two single stamps in the scan have been marked up by someone as being smaller, but this is not clearly the case to us. Note: We read somewhere, a long time ago, that this surcharge may exist in black (it is normally in Blue), but we have no evidence to support this.



- ditto - Surcharge Double [ . ]
- ditto - CASAS DE CORREOS omitted (paper fold variety) [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge shifted one line up (CASAS DE CORREOS now at foot) [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge shifted one line up, bottom row of sheet (CASAS DE CORREOS omitted) [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge shifted two lines up (CINCO CENTAVOS at top) [ . ]

- ditto - Broken 'E' giving 'TELFGRAFOS' [ . ]
- ditto - Broken 'E' giving 'CORRFOS' [ . ]
- ditto - Second 'F' in 'TELEGRAFOS' all but missing [ . ]
- ditto - 'S' of 'CORREOS' appears DOUBLE [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge cheval [ . ]


1940 : Surcharged TIMBRE PATRIOTICO / VEINTE CENTAVOS : SG 625B ; Scott RA 47; Michel Z.46

This is a much scarcer stamp than indicated by its catalogue value, especially in mint condition.


- ditto - 'O' of 'PATRIOTICO' solidly inked [ . ]


1946 : Overprinted CORRESPONDENCIA OFICIAL : SG O.803 ; Scott O.201 ; Michel D.158

The final use of this railway revenue stamp was not for obligatory tax purposes, but to provide Official stamps for Government mails as late as 1946. It is uncommon.


- ditto - flaw through 'RR' of 'CORRESPONDENCIA' [ . ]
- ditto - Overprint Double [ . ]



Above, a neat cover bearing the Correspondencia Oficial stamp, sent from a Government Ministry in Quito to Montreal, Canada.


3. Telegraph Stamps ; sellos Telegrafos

In 1938, there was clearly still a plentiful supply of these stamps and a quantity were employed on the only telegraphic surcharge applied to them.

The scan above shows :
Top Row : The normal stamp; The triple surcharge.
Bottom Row : The faint double surcharge; The original stamp printed double.

Telegrafos Telegrafos Telegrafos
Above: Detail scan of the faint double surcharge; the normal double surcharge (not with one diagonal); the reversed 'Q' variety.

10c/1c Surcharged TIMBRE TELEGRAFICO [ . ]
- ditto - Figure '0' in '10' resembles a reversed 'Q' * [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double - very weak second surcharge ** [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Triple [ . ]
- ditto - Original stamp printed double [ . ]

* We do not know whether this is a constant variety; it occurs in the right-hand column of the sheet and is not from the top or bottom row.


4. Fiscal Surcharges:

Given the length of time (1920-1946) that these railway revenue stamps were used for postal purposes, it would be surprising if there were not more non-postal uses than are listed here, below.

Fiscal uses

The first stamp above is a Documentary Tax stamp, 10c/1c TIMBRE MOVIL, a multi-purpose revenue stamp for a range of taxable documents.

The next three stamps are all for revenue collection on the railways, one of them on a non-railway-related original revenue. They all appear to be related to a tax on legal documents and are overprinted and surcharged 5c and 10c and are applicable to two railways, the Ferrocarril Quito-Esmeraldas and Ferrocarril Sibambe-Cuenca.

There is a variety on one of the 5c/1c value reading 'Impuestos' (in the plural) as against 'Impuesto' in the singular; we do not know whether it is found on the 10c/2c but it is not unlikely, as the same setting may have been used for both stamps, with just the value changed.

10c/1c Surcharged TIMBRE MOVIL [ . ]

5c/1c surcharged FC Quito-Esmeraldas etc, inscribed 'Impuestos' [ . ]
- ditto - Inscribed 'Impuesto' [ . ]

10c/2c (Blue) surcharged FC Quito-Esmeraldas etc, inscribed 'Impuestos' [ . ]
- ditto - Inscribed 'Impuesto' [ ? ] (not seen by us) [ . ]


There is a quite different Ferrocarril Puerto Bolivar fiscal stamp seen by collectors, a very attractive vertical-format stamp in violet-blue showing a steam train, found both as an un-overprinted fiscal and with various TELEGRAFO(S) overprints. It was never authorised for postal purposes - but we may describe the Telegraphic usage of it at a later date.

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