Nicaragua : 1907 Telegraph Surcharges on Momotombo & Train Design
. . . . . . . . and the 1911/12 'Railway Ticket' stamps Telegraph surcharges.

The 1900 Definitive stamps showing a train and Mount Momotombo were overprinted in 1900 and surcharged in 1901 for Telegraphic use. Then in 1907, the 1c, 2c, 3c and 50c recess-printed stamps of 1900 and the 5c red and 10c violet lithographed stamps of 1902 were selected for another group of surcharges to meet the needs of the telegraph service.
Note: We start with these 1907 stamps but we may add the 1900/1901 telegraph stamps to this article at a later date.

Telegrafos Nicaragua Telegraph Stamps 1907 Mount Momotombo & Steam Train

The deplorable lack of quality of workmanship in the 1907 surcharges surpasses that of even the worst productions of the 1901 local surcharges on the postage stamps. It is hard to believe that the person responsible had any training in printing at all. Even allowing for the conditions in Nicaragua at that time, including what may have been quite primitive equipment, that would not excuse the lack of application and care so obviously apparent with these surcharges.

We have produced in tabulated form the errors that we have seen, identifying the values on which we know them to occur. It is most unlikely that the list is exhaustive, but we have been careful not to assume that the setting was necessarily the same for all the values with similar surcharges. Some varieties may have been corrected or new ones created through damage to printing formes/plates as the printing progressed. In several cases where there is a blank in the tables below, the stamp will probably exist.

Postage stamps in this design were surcharged in panes/25 and it seems likely that this was true of the telegraph stamps as well, but evidence is required to establish this. We would welcome information on the positions of varieties within the sheet or pane, as this would be a useful addition to the article. However, whilst complete panes of many of the postage stamps of this period are found, multiples of the telegraph stamps appear to be rare. It is reasonable to assume that most font errors and varieties will have been present on the double and inverted surcharges but, given the paucity of supply of these stamps, clearly very few examples of any particular variety is likely to have survived, perhaps in some cases none.

There is prima facie evidence to suggest that the surcharges on the Lithographed stamps may well have been made at a different, and probably later, date than the surcharges on the recess-engraved stamps. On the 10c/5c and the 15c/5c, in particular, the quality is quite dreadful and only marginally better on the 10c/10c. However, as most varieties seem to appear on both recess and litho stamps, perhaps the same formes or plates were used for the surcharges but maybe at different dates, and perhaps even with different printers' ink. One can speculate extensively on these stamps but proof is hard to establish for almost any theory.

After first producing this article, we were pleased to receive extensive further information from Alan Slater, concerning both general settings and further varieties, much of which has been incorporated into this article.

For each group of varieties, we provide a scan and then a tabulated listing immediately below that scan, describing which values are known with the varieties in that scan. The listing follows the order in the scan, left to right.

Telegrafos Nicaragua Telegraph Stamps 1907 Mount Momotombo & Steam Train

Variety 10c/1c 10c/2c 10c/5c 10c/10c 10c/50c 15c/3c 15c/2c 15c/5c
Normal Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Thick T in Telegrafos . Yes . Yes Yes Yes Yes .
Missing T in 'Telegrafos',faint 'V' in 'Vale' . . . . . Yes . Yes
small raised second e in Telegrafos Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes . .
'T' with serifs - NOT illustrated Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
** The last variety above is not illustrated, but an examination of the various scans will show that the 'T' occurs frequently in both styles, with and without serifs.
** We have not seen the 10c/10c with the raised small 'e' except as listed below with the additional variety of the apparently broken letter 'd' forming the '0' in '10'.


Telegrafos Nicaragua Telegraph Stamps 1907 Mount Momotombo & Steam Train

Variety 10c/1c 10c/2c 10c/5c 10c/10c 10c/50c 15c/3c 15c/2c 15c/5c
Weak or missing 'f' 'fo' or 'o' in Telegrafos Yes . Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes .
Missing 's' in Telegrafos . . . . . Yes . .
Missing 's' in Telegrafos and missing C . . . . Yes Yes . .
Raised and Invtd 'os' = Telegrafso(note below) Yes Yes . Yes Yes Yes Yes .
** Some stamps with 'Telegrafso' error may be found with a very weak or missing 'L' in 'Telegrafos'
** Alan Slater reports a copy of the 10c/2c with 'Telegrafso' variety in proper alignment.
** Alan also reports the 10c/1c with missing 'c' but with the 's' still present.
** On the 10c/1c, 10c/2c and 10c/10c, Alan also reports a double variety of 'Telegrafso' and widely spaced '0' and 'C'. This may well exist on other values too.


Telegrafos Nicaragua Telegraph Stamps 1907 Mount Momotombo & Steam Train

Variety 10c/1c 10c/2c 10c/5c 10c/10c 10c/50c 15c/3c 15c/2c 15c/5c
Figure '1' missing from new value . . . . Yes . . .
Figure '0'(in 10) or '5'(in 15) missing from value . . . Yes . . . .
Figure '0' or '5' and C missing . . . Yes . . . .
Taller, thinner '0' in '10' Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes **** **** ****
Note :
** Alan Slater reports the 15c/3c with the figure '5' all but missing

Telegrafos Nicaragua Telegraph Stamps 1907 Mount Momotombo & Steam Train

Variety 10c/1c 10c/2c 10c/5c 10c/10c 10c/50c 15c/3c 15c/2c 15c/5c
Missing both 'le' and 10C, leaving only 'Va' . . Yes Yes Yes . . .
'0' like base of damaged 'd' (+ raised 'e') . . . Yes . **** **** ****
'01' in error for '10' . . . Yes Yes **** **** ****
Surcharge Double . Yes . . . Yes Yes .
Surcharge Inverted (illustrated in introduction) . Yes . Yes . . . Yes
Other Varieties reported by Alan Slater:

** The 10c/5c is found with grossly misplaced surcharge, including 'Vale 10c' appearing above 'Telegrafos'.
** The 10c/5c exists with missing 'a' in 'Telegrafos'.
** All examples seen with only 'Va' in the bottom line also have the variety 'afos' printed low.
** Alan Slater reports the 15c/3c with surcharge double, one inverted, one with the Telegrafso variety.

The stamps in this section of the article are listed by Yvert (Tele 89-96) and Domfil (907.43-50). Both catalogues also list a further value 30c/1c (Yv. 96A, Domf.907.51). We have never seen a copy of this stamp and can therefore make no comment upon it. If anyone has one, we should be pleased to hear from them. However, Domfil only copies Yvert for these listings and Yvert's listing of the 1900 Momotombo telegraph stamps, for example, includes several values that nobody has ever seen. This adds to the doubt as to whether a 1907 30c/1c was ever produced.


1911/12 Railway 'Ticket' Types overprinted for Telegraphic Use

Of all the world's railway issues, the postage stamps, and hence also the telegraph stamps, of this design are the most complex. The original purpose of the stamps is still not established with certainty. Often previously listed as 1c and 2c stamps, the current thinking is that they are 1st and 2nd Class Railway Tickets, although a fixed rate for a railway journey of unspecified length would be unusual. Without any confirmation of this ticket theory to our knowledge, we speculate that they may perhaps have been seat reservation stamps for 1st and 2nd Class or, even perhaps, for first and second meal sittings in restaurant cars.

Note: Throughout this part of the article, we refer to the pictorial side as the front of the stamp, even though the franking value is frequently on the non-pictorial side, which we call the back throughout, somewhat in conflict with philatelic norms. Welcome to Nicaragua!

The Fiscal Surcharges
The original Railway 'Stamps' were clearly little used and the remainders were initially surcharged for fiscal use, the red stamps (1st) always in BLACK, the blue stamps (2nd) most frequently in RED but also in BLACK. The new value of the surcharge is always 10c on the red stamps and 5c on the blue stamps. However, this fiscal surcharge had two distinct styles, 'TIMBRE FISCAL' and 'Timbre Fiscal' and they can be found reading up or reading down, always on the front of the stamp. There are some varieties in the fiscal surcharge, such as surcharge double, surcharge triple(two on the front, one on the back) and many more! Other fiscal surcharge varieties include using 'ctvs' and 'cvs' in different printings of the blue stamps, often with the variety 'ctvs' inverted in position 20. If we ever do a listing of the postage stamps in this design (not a very tempting proposition), we might go into more detail about the fiscal surcharges there, but for the Telegraphs, we doubt that we would ever have enough material from which to do so.

The Postal Surcharges
In order to understand the Telegraphic surcharges, one needs a certain knowledge of the Postal Surcharges. These stamps were all surcharged in panes/20 (4x5) with the postal surcharge either on the front or the back and, occasionally, on both sides and intentionally printed thus. There are huge variations in some of the postal surcharges, sometimes providing up to 14 major varieties in the pane/20, and these stamps were used for the First and Fourth telegraph issues described below. Many collectors collect these Nicaragua stamps in panes, where possible, and a surprising number of panes survive of some of the postage issues, but this does not apply to the telegraph stamps. To judge from the number of panes that we have seen with burn marks around the edges, many of the surviving panes were probably 'liberated' from a bonfire of remainders, rather than purchased over the counter. Yes, an even very warmer welcome to Nicaragua!

The Telegraphic Surcharges
These mirror in some ways the postal issues, some with panes/20 with perhaps 14 major varieties, others much less colourful but nevertheless intriguing. We do not claim for one moment that the list below is complete, nor do we believe anyone would ever be able to do so, so complex are these issues. Several years after compiling the Momotombo section on this page, we added these ticket types to the article in 2012, in response to a request for help from John Barefoot, who was bravely compiling a new world catalogue of Telegraph Stamps, which has since been published and which we recommend to you, it being the first new work in this field since Hiscock's 1982 catalogue and an excellent addition to the world of the telegraph stamp, a hugely under-collected area.

Telegraphic Cancellations
Used Stamps : Cancellations on these 'railway ticket' types are usually in violet with a double circle telegraphic cancel or, quite frequently with what appears to be a remainder cancel in three lines : SIN VALOR / (some line apparently about the legal decree authorising this cancellation) / NICARAGUA, the SIN VALOR being in much larger letters than the rest. Although used are more common, a fair number of mint telegraph stamps are on the market.

In order to list these stamps, we need to establish a 'quickly-memorable' short-form codes for the fiscal surcharges for all the issues listed below. They do NOT all exist for all issues and you never see red fiscal surcharges on red stamps. Except where otherwise stated, we are only listing in this part of the article stamps that we have personally seen, and this therefore leads to the exclusion of several stamps which we would expect to exist.

Code Description
rU Timbre Fiscal in RED, reading UP
rD Timbre Fiscal in RED, reading DOWN
bU Timbre Fiscal in BLACK, reading UP
bD Timbre Fiscal in BLACK, reading DOWN

The Four Telegraph Issues
These telegraph stamps come in four apparent issues, of which the following are single identifying features:
First Issue : Inscription on the BACK includes the word 'TELEGRAFO' (singular)
Second Issue : Inscription includes the word 'Telegrafos' vertically on the FRONT, no postal surcharge on back
Third Issue : Inscription reads 'Telegrafos' horizontally on the FRONT
Fourth Issue : Stamps with POSTAL surcharge on BACK, overprinted 'Telegrafos' vertically on FRONT

The fiscal surcharges are reported to date from 1903. The Postal and Telegraphic surcharges were made in 1911/12. In the case of the Telegraphs, the First Issue is thought to be of 1911 origin, the other three 1912.


First Issue : Fiscal Surcharge only on the front, Vale / xx Cts / TELEGRAFO / DE 1911 on the back.
These are complex, sharing the same multitude of varieties as their postage cousins. However, the printer appears to have completely reset the pane when changing the surcharge from CORREO to TELEGRAFO on the 15c value, so that the varieties occur in totally different places in the pane.
We are unable to provide a scan of the 10c Telegraph setting of the First Issue but are providing a scan of the postage surcharges, and it is best to assume that the varieties on the 10c Telegraphs are also in different positions to those of the postage setting.
We are able to provide a scan of the pane of the 15c Postage setting next to the 15c Telegraph setting for this issue, which provides an interesting comparison. The telegraph illustration is for Zelaya Province (Bluefields) but it is reasonable, we think, to infer that this setting was also used for the national issue.


Nicaragua Telegraph Stamps - R1 .

10c/5c/2nd (RU)
10c/5c/2nd (RD)
10c/5c/2nd (RD) Telegraph Surcharge Inverted

10c/5c/2nd (rD)
10c/5c/2nd (rD) Telegraph Surcharge Inverted

10c/5c/2nd (BD) 10c/5c/2nd (BD) Telegraph Surcharge Inverted


Nicaragua Telegraph Stamps - R2 .

15c/5c/2nd (RU)
15c/5c/2nd (RD) Telegraph Surcharge Inverted

15c/5c/2nd (rD) (Pane/20 illustrated)
15c/5c/2nd (rD) Telegraph Surcharge Inverted
15c/5c/2nd (rD) Telegraph Surcharge on Front and Back

15c/5c/2nd (BD)

In many cases, we have seen several copies of some of the above and have been surprised not to find alternative fiscal surcharges amongst them. It is possible that the telegraph overprints, being relatively small in number, exhibit far fewer varieties of fiscal surcharge than their postage counterparts.


Second Issue: Fiscal stamps without surcharge on the back, overprinted vertically 'Telegrafos' on the FRONT.

Nicaragua Telegraph Stamps - R3 .

Nicaragua Telegraph Stamps - R3 .

10c/1st (bD) Overprint reading DOWN
10c/1st (bD) Small raised 'f' in 'Telegrafos' (illustrated)
10c/1st (--) Overprint reading UP (in Yvert & Hiscocks, not seen by us)
10c/1st (--) Overprint Double (in Yvert & Hiscocks, not seen by us)


Third Issue: Fiscal stamps usually without surcharge on the back, surcharged horizontally 'Telegrafos / xx cts / 1912' on the FRONT.
This is an odd issue. Both Yvert & Hiscocks list the first stamp the same way, as
We think they are both incorrect and that the stamp is, in fact, a 15c/5c/5c/2nd, as, in all the examples that we have seen, the 15c surcharge (in black) appears to be on top of the 5c surcharge (in red). Looking at the second stamp in this 'set', it is difficult to be certain, but, based on the intensity of the black ink, we think the word Telegrafos was printed along with the 10c surcharge and this ties in with the assessment of the first stamp above.
It would seem that there were two telegraph stamps were prepared for use, but not issued, a 5c/5c/2nd and a 10c/10c/1st. We know of no examples of these original stamps in circulation. Presumably due to a change in rates or an urgent need for 15c telegraph stamps, both these stamps were further surcharged 15 cts in black. As the black ink dominates the red ink on the blue stamp, it was not felt necessary to add an obliterating bar, but a bar was used to obliterate the 10 cts on the red stamp.

Nicaragua Telegraph Stamps - R4

15c/5c/5c/2nd (RD)
15c/5c/5c/2nd (rD)
15c/5c/5c/2nd (BD)
15c/5c/5c/2nd (--) Surcharge Double (Which surcharge? Not seen by us, listed in Yvert & Hiscocks)

15c/10c/10c/1st (bD)
15c/10c/10c/1sr (bD) 15 cts superimposed on 10 cts (misplaced surcharge)

15c/10c/15c/10c/1st (bD)
This stamp is as the above, but with an additional 15 cts Postage surcharge on the BACK (This is, in order, reading backwards, a 1st class 'stamp', with 10c fiscal surcharge, surcharged 15c for postal use on the back, then surcharged Telegrafos 10 cts on the front, then further uprated 15 cts on the front - welcome anew to Nicaragua!)

Note : The 's' of 'Telegrafos' is frequently weak or missing in this issue.

Fourth Issue: Fiscal stamps overprinted 'Telegrafos' vertically on the front, surcharged on the BACK 'Vale / 15 Cts / CORREO / DE 1911', the postal surcharge annulled by a thin vertical bar. We are left to assume that the face value is therefore 10c as per the unobliterated fiscal surcharge, although in no other examples of postage or telegraph stamps does the fiscal value prevail, and they may therefore conceivably have served as 15c telegraphs. However, we have described the stamps as 10c/1st, as the 15 cts surcharge was the last surcharge and has been annulled
The setting for the postal surcharge creates about 14 major varieties again (see the introduction and scanned panes above). The 'Telegrafos' overprint in this issue reads DOWN unless otherwise stated.

Nicaragua Telegraph Stamps - R5 .

10c/1st (bD)
10c/1st (bD) Small raised 'f' variety (Position 19, seen from the back)
10c/1st (bD) Postal surcharge inverted
10c/1st (bD) 'Telegrafos' reads UP, postal surcharge inverted
ERROR : 15c/10c/1st (bD) : Obliterating bar for postal surcharge omitted

ERROR : 15c/10c/1st (bD) : Postal surcharge on the FRONT (obliterating bar on the back, obliterating nothing)
Note: The front of the above stamp is illustrated above (right). It does not even exist to our knowledge as a postage stamp. It has only ever been reported with postal surcharge either on the back or on both sides, but not on the front only. This stamp also has a further variety, fiscal surcharge double, one on the back.

10c/1st (bU) 'Telegrafos' reads UP

10c/1st (BD) 'Telegrafos' reads DOWN



BLUEFIELDS / ZELAYA ISSUE surcharged on the BACK 'Vale / xx Cts / TELEGRAFO / DE 1911 / B'
There are only two main railway ticket types found in the Province of Bluefields :

10c/5c/2c (rD)
15c/5c/2c (rD)

A full pane of the 15 cts with its (approximately) 14 major varieties is shown above (illustrating the National First Issue) and the Bluefields 10c will have had a similar 'richness' of surcharge styling.

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