domingo, 5 de mayo de 2013

Panama: Handstamps on the 1903-1904 Provisional Issue

Georg Maier (APS 130152)

When Panama gained independence from Colombia on November 3, 1903, the authorities continued to use Colombian stationery cards applying a provisional rubber stamp overprint on them. Three types of these overprints are recorded by Ascher and Higgins & Gage which were assigned to the cities of Panama (Type I), Colon (Type II), and Bocas del Toro (Type III), respectivelly. In addition, the word "COLOMBIA" on the card was annulled with anywhere from one to three lines. In the case of Panama City and Colon the line or lines were appllied manually in red whereas in Bocas del Toro the lines appear in black or blue.

These handstamps and obliterations appear according to available material as early as December 1903 until mid-1905. This, inspite of Panama issuing a definitive postcard en November (?) 1904. According to Higgins & Gage, but not Ascher, the slanted application of the handstamp is unofficial, a claim which has no  merit as in most cards, mint or used, the slanted applicatiion and not the straight one is prevalent.

Most of the Colombian cards employed during this provisional period are catalogued in Higgins & Gage with the numbers 13 and 14 with a few but scarce copies of numbers 7, 15 and 16 also known. There are six types of handstamps and/or obliterations which will be discussed here.

1. Manuscript type obliterations.

2. Panama City handstamp (Type I).

3. Colon handstamp (Type II).

4. The Type I and II handstamps applied jointly.

5. Bocas del Toro handstamp (Type III).

6. "Bogus" handstamps.

Manuscript type obliterations

I have a fragment of a Colombian card with a manuscript obliteration, undoubtedly genuine. This fragment has a rare Panama City origin cancel where the author took the pains of obbliterating the word Colombia in Republica de Colombia, struck it out with three red lines and substituted it with Panama.

One wonders how many homemade versions exists where individuals, ever anxious to dissasociate themselves from the mother country fabricated their own version of a Panama Stationery card.

A manuscript type obliteration on a Colombia stationery card (HG 14b) where all mention  of
Colombia is hand obliterated and replaced with Panama. This fragment shows a rare Panama City
cancel obliteration Dic. 28, 1903 and on extremely early useage since the separation
of the two countries occured on November 3, 1903.
The Type I Panama City handstamp

This handstamp is attributed to the City of Panama and comes in two differente types of lettering. In the first and more common the letters are slanted where as in the second the letters of the handstamp are streight. The first is known in three differente colors, red, violet and black with the last not mentioned in either Ascher or Higgins & Gage. Two different subtypes have been observed in the slanted variety in most of the red handstamps of P of "Panama" is more or less below the P of "Republica" wheras in the violet variety the P of "Panama" is directly below the U of "Republica". The same holds true of the black handstamped covers of which only a few have been observed.

I have seen two copies of a handstamp in red, both in mint and in used condition with straight and distinctive lettering although lengthwise the same. Whether this is a subtype of the Panama City handstamp or one designated to a different town is unknown.

Finally, I have seen only one copy of Type I where the word COLOMBIA is crossed out with one red line. Used copies of the Type I card are invariably canceled with a Colon origin cancel. A Panama City origin cancel should be considered as rare.

A slanted double application of a violet Type I handstamp on Colombia HG 14
which traveled from Colon (July 19, 1905) to Belgium and was rerouted to Germany
(August 12, 1905). An additional 3 cts. (Scott 179, 180) was applied for the international rate.
An unusually late ussage of this card.

A straight double violet application of a Type I handstamp with straight lettering.
This card (Colombia HG 14) was sent from Colon with a fine cds. duplex (March 7, 1904)
and boxed Buzon/Colon to Belgium. A scarce comercial usage of this card.
A streight double red application of the Panama City Tipe I handstamp which,
according the Higgins & Gage, is the only official one. This card with an additional
3 cts. (3 x Scott 71) to cover the international rate traveled from Panama City (illegible date)
to San Jose, Costa Rica (Jan. 3, 1904) via Limon (Dec. 3, 1903). A very early usage.

The Type II Colon handstamp


The type of handstamp, attributed to the city of Colon, is much less common than the Panama City handstamp.

It is a straight line cancel in violet which is stamped on the card either in a straight or slanted position, sometimes inverted. I have observed two different types of lettering albeit with a minimal difference in the letters. The size of the letters and the word are the same.

An unused copy of Colombia HG 14 with a straight line Type II violet handstamp.
The word COLOMBIA is not obliterated.

The Type I and II  handstamps applied jointly

There are a limited number of cards wich show both the Type I and II handstamp on the same card. This suggests that the cards were indiscriminately used in either town. Y have this mixed handstamp card in mint and used condition, in violet, one showing the word Colombia struck out with two red lines.

A straight violet Type II overprint, a red machine two lines obliteration of COLOMBIA and a slanted
violet Type I overprint over stamp. This card (Colombia HG 14) was mailed with a Colon flag stamp (July 24, 1904)
to Berlin (August 22, 1904) via New York (August 3, 1904).

The Type III Bocas del Toro handstamp


This hanstamp assigned to the city of Bocas del Toro is the rarest of the three, particularly in a used condition. Although both Asher and Higgins & Gage state that the handstamp is in violet my copies appear to be in black. Moreover, the word Colombia is lined out with a single black line. A fellow collector also reports a blue line to exist.

A rare unused Type III black overprint on Colombia HG 6.
The word Colombia is obliterated with one black straight line.
A straight line violet Type III overprint directed form Bocas del Toro (June 26, 1904)
to Frankfurt (July 17, 1904). The word COLOMBIA is struck out with one straight black line.

"Bogus" handstamps

In addition to the types of hanstamps assigned to the three cities other types are known whose origin if not questionable is unknown. David Leeds, in his article on Panama Postal Stationery (COPACARTA, The Journal of COPAPHIL, El Cajon, Ca. Vol IX, No. 1, Sept. 1991, pp. 20-25) states that "Many of the unused overprints are bogus". The problem here is that these overprints which do not fall into the three types assigned to the three cities are seldom seen. I have one which is 36 mm. in length purchased many years ago from a reputable source which needs exposure in order to determine not only if more of the same exist but if other handstamps of a differente type are in the hands of collectors. Undoubtedly, the subject of the so-called "bogus" handstamps needs additional study.

A supposedly "bogus" handstamp
with a violet straight line PANAMA obliteration (36 mm.) over COLOMBIA.

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