Ecuador - Postal Tax on Tobacco Revenue Train / Locomotive design

Between 1920 and 1957, the Ecuador postal authorities issued many Obligatory Tax stamps. These are stamps whose use is mandatory either on certain days or on certain classes of mail 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. Unlike stamps such as Swiss Pro Juventute stamps, where the sender elects to support the charity by purchasing stamps sold at a premium above their postal value, obligatory tax stamps are solely an additional cost on top of the normal postage charge - and they MUST be attached to letters in circumstances stipulated by the post office.

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. It makes no claim to being complete but simply shows stamps and varieties known to the author.
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 (ABNC) 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

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

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)


2. The Post Office Surcharges and Overprints:

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

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.

Perf 12 stamps

[ . ] 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

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.

CASA CORREOS Rouletted stamps

[ . ] 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.
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.

Seguro Social 006
Seguro Social 007

[ . ] 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, both horizontal, narrow-spaced
[ . ] - ditto - Surcharge Triple, two horizontal, one diagonally downwards
[ . ] - ditto - Surcharge Double, one Diagonal (upwards)
[ . ] - 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 my best guess is that is is 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. Does anyone have any information that can shed light on this interesting item?


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

The more one examines this stamp, the more complex it becomes. 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, this stamp in the 2.5 mm spacing is also found with pointed letters 'A'. An example is shown below, 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. I have not seen it with surcharge upright but one imagines it will exist.

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.
I am conscious of the fact that I do not have a clear picture of all the elements of this issue. If I acquire new information at a later date, I may re-visit this issue, (this written in 2017).

The scan is composed as follows, with some element of guess-work when part of the 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

** Interestingly, the surcharge has been applied to line up with the (poor) perforating, not with the stamp design.

[ . ] 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 I am not yet convinced that this is not just natural variants in the printers' font tray (of the same letters) combined with different levels of inking. The last two single stamps in the scan have been marked up by someone as being smaller, but it is not clearly the case to me. Note : I have read somewhere, a long time ago, that this surcharge may exist in black (it is normally in Blue), but I 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 below shows : Top Row : The normal stamp; The triple surcharge. . . . Bottom Row : The faint double surcharge; The original stamp printed double.


Below : The faint double surcharge in greater detail; the normal double surcharge; the reversed 'Q' variety.
Telegrafos Telegrafos Telegrafos

[ . ] 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

* Unknown 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.

** Whether this is worthy of its own listing is a matter for the individual collector.


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 many more non-postal uses than are listed here below.

The first stamp is a Documentary Tax stamp, 10c/1c TIMBRE MOVIL, the sort of stamp typically required in many countries to be applied to a range of official documents in order to add a few more centavos to Government coffers! The next three stamps are very interesting from a railway point of view. They appear to be some form of Legal Tax, no doubt for documents again, but they are overprinted and surcharged 5c and 10c for the Ferrocarril Quito-Esmeraldas and Ferrocarril Sibambe-Cuenca (as in the railway thematic set of 1926 from Ecuador) but the surcharge, of course, is on the Ferrocarril Puerto Bolivar stamp in the case of the 1c values. The 5c/2c blue is a non-railway 2c fiscal, but also surcharged for the Ferrocarril Quito-Esmeraldas.

There is a variety on one of the 5c/1c values reading 'Impuestos' (in the plural) as against 'Impuesto' in the singular, which is found on the other 5c/1c red and the 10c/2c blue.

Fiscal uses

[ . ] 10c/1c Surcharged TIMBRE MOVIL
[ . ] 5c/1c surcharged FC Quito-Esmeraldas etc, inscibed 'Impuestos'
[ . ] - ditto - Inscribed 'Impuesto'


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 I may describe the Telegraphic usage of it here at a later date.

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