Guatemala 1886-1902 : Quetzal & Train (un-surcharged)
. . . . . . . Lithographed and Recess-Engraved Types

The short-lived, but complex, provisional surcharges on rail-bond stamps, issued in March 1886, were replaced in June of the same year by an attractive definitive issue by the American Banknote Company, featuring a Resplendent Quetzal in a coat-of-arms and showing a steam train and a steamship in the upper corners.

The June printing was made by Lithography and the high values only exist printed in this format. However, in December 1886, a further printing, of values up to 25c, was produced by the recess-engraved process. Much later, in 1900, values up to 25c were again produced by the recess method, but in entirely new colours.

Distinguishing the 1886 litho from the 1886 recess printings, in general, is straightforward, except for the 1c and one printing of the 5c. We shall examine each of the values common to the two printings, comprising 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c and 25c.

The 6c of 1886 only exists recess-printed and the higher values (50c, 75c, 100c, 150c and 200c) only exist printed by lithography.


Distinguishing the 1c values :
Guatemala Stamps 1886 Litho and Recess printings

Guatemala Stamps 1886 Litho and Recess printings
Litho Printings (left) . . . . . . Two examples from the 1c and 2c values . . . and . . . Recess-Engraved Printings (right)

The principal distinguishing feature between the 1c litho and 1c engraved, and an additonal feature for all the other lithograhed stamps, are the horizontal lines of shading at the very top of the stamp, the differences being most noticeable on the left-hand side.
On the lithographed stamps, the top four lines of shading are of similar strength to the lines below. On the recess-engraved stamps, the top four lines at the left stand out as being clearly heavier than the lines below them. If in doubt, the standard test for all litho and engraved stamps, running a finger over the surface, can also be used, with the litho stamps feeling softer and smoother to the touch than their engraved cousins.


Distinguishing the 2c values :
Guatemala Stamps 1886 Litho and Recess printings

The scan above shows the lithographed stamp on the left and the recess-engraved stamp on the right, the engraved stamp having a thinner but larger figure '2'.


Distinguishing the 5c values :
Guatemala Stamps 1886 Litho and Recess printings
The first stamp is lithographed; the last two are recess-engraved.

The first stamp above is lithographed. It has the same 'even' lines-of-shading distinguishing it from the recess-printed stamps as described above for the 1c value. The second stamp in the scan, a scarce stamp in mint condition, is recess-printed but with its figure of value similar to that of the lithographed stamp. Although the colour is different and the '5' slightly thinner on this stamp than on the lithographed 5c, it is best identified with certainty by its printing type (engraved) combined with its very obviously different figure of value from the other engraved stamp shown, with its 'fat' figure '5'. Colours / shades can be an unreliable guide with these stamps, as described lower down.


Distinguishing the 10c values :
Guatemala Stamps 1886 Litho and Recess printings

The litho 10c has close-spaced figures of value. On the engraved 10c they are further apart.


Distinguishing the 20c and 25c values :
Guatemala Stamps 1886 Litho and Recess printings

Guatemala Stamps 1886 Litho and Recess printings

The 20c and 25c have the same distinguishing feature, affecting the frame line on the right-hand side of the stamps only. On the lithographed stamps, there is a break in the outer frame-line adjacent to the 'S' of 'CENTAVOS' or, occasionally, a very faint line can just be discerned. On the engraved stamps, there is a clear outer frame-line at this point; usually, it is a double frame-line on the 20c but a single frame-line on the 25c.


General Observations :
Shades: These stamps are not entirely colour-fast and used (or mint no gum) examples in particular should be treated with suspicion when encountered in unusual colours or shades. It is true that the litho and engraved stamps of the same value do have distinctly different colours in some cases as will be seen in the scans below, but there are also shades within the same issues, particuarly on the lower values which had higher print-runs. We have only illustrated mint stamps with gum in the scans below, due to the presence of faded / washed colours - or even colour changelings in the case of the 5c.

Perforation: All stamps, whether issued in 1886 or in new colours in 1900, are Perf 12. Whilst the litho stamps of 1886 (the first stamps issued) and the 1900 new colours have perforations all round, 5% of the 1886 engraved printing were issued with straight-edge either at left or right side.

Surcharges: The Post Office's order for the 1886 litho issue was hopelessly unrelated to likely postal need, with too few low values and too many high values ordered. The 1886 engraved issue, which only goes up to 25c, helped remedy this to some extent, but the 2c and a large number of mainly higher-value stamps in this design were surcharged in 1894 and 1898 to meet requirements for stamps at the commoner postal rates. This article is solely devoted to the unsurcharged stamps.

Major Varieties:
Whilst errors and varieties abound on the surcharges of this design, they are less common on the original stamps. The figures of value may be found in varying positions, but only two major flaws exist, the 50c with a large blemish across the 'TE' of 'GUATEMALA', which occurs in Position 99 (sheets / 100 , 10 x 10), and which may or may not have been corrected during the printing, and a flaw on the figure '200', which gives the appearace of a face value of ' 207 '. This occurs in Position 29, but not on all sheets, indicating either that the flaw was found and corrected or that damage occurred during printing. The '207' flaw exists on the surcharged stamps as well but we have not seen the 'TE' flaw on a surcharged stamp.


The 1886 (July 1) Lithographed Issue :
Guatemala Stamps 1886 Lithographed set
Guatemala Stamps 1886 Lithographed set Guatemala Stamps 1886 Lithographed 50c TE Flaw variety
Guatemala Stamps 1886 Lithographed 200c with 207 flaw variety

July 1886 : LITHO : (SG 31-41)
1c Grey-Blue [ . ]
2c Deep Yellow-Brown [ . ]
5c Deep Bright Violet [ . ]
- ditto - Violet-Blue [ . ]
10c Reddish-Vermilion [ . ]
- ditto - Bright Scarlet [ . ]
20c Pale Bluish-Green [ . ]
25c Bright Orange [ . ]
50c Olive-green [ . ]
- ditto - Flaw through 'TE' of 'GUATEMALA' [ . ]
75c Deep Rose [ . ]
100c Chocolate [ . ]
150c Deep Dark-Blue [ . ]
200c Orange-Yellow [ . ]
- ditto - '207' for '200' flaw [ . ]


1886 (Dec) - 1895 Recess-Engraved Stamps :
Guatemala Stamps 1886 Reccess-Engraved set
Guatemala Stamps 1886 Recess-Engraved set

December 1886 & Later : ENGRAVED : (SG 43-50)
1c Deep Blue [ . ]
- ditto - Bright Blue [ . ]
2c Yellow-Brown [ . ]
- ditto - Orange-Brown [ . ]
5c Lilac [ . ]
5c Violet-Blue (1888) [ . ]
6c Reddish- Purple (1895) [ . ]
10c Scarlet (1890) [ . ]
20c Bluish-green (1893) [ . ]
25c Dull Orange (1893) [ . ]


1900 (-1902) : Recess-Engraved, New Colours :
Guatemala Stamps 1886 Reccess-Engraved set
Guatemala Stamps 1886 Recess-Engraved set

1900 (-1902): ENGRAVED : New Colours: (SG 101-09)
1c Deep Bluish-Green [ . ]
2c Deep Bright Rose [ . ]
5c Deep Blue [ . ]
6c Bright Yellow-Green [ . ]
10c Pale Bistre-Brown [ . ]
20c Deep Purple [ . ]
20c Deep Brown (1902) [ . ]
25c Orange-Yellow [ . ]
25c Deep Blue-Green (1902) [ . ]

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