Mexico-Elmhurst Philatelic Society, International
Why You Should Collect Mexico?
By Marc Gonzales
How would you like to find a one of a kind stamp, dare I say unique, looking through a dollar box of stamps?
Well, your chances of doing this while collecting Mexico are probably greater than with any other country, and that is just one of many reasons to collect Mexico.
Stamp collectors tend to go through phases. At first there is the general curiosity and desire to collect everything. Then one begins to feel that is impossible and becomes less interesting. The next progression is towards specialization. Most collectors in the US collect US stamps, and usually favor another country or two. When I first began collecting stamps in earnest I liked Egypt as I found the ancient Egyptian pyramids fascinating. I also favored China and the diversity of the various overprints. At that time the stamps of China were relatively cheap, another good reason to collect a particular country. As time went on I yearned to visit the pyramids of Egypt that were pictured on the stamps I collected, and the exotic provinces of China listed by the overprints. But that was out of my reach. Then it hit me! Mexico has ancient pyramids, Mexico has exotic places and overprints, and Mexico is very close by, easy to visit. I bought a dealer packet of Mexico and that was the beginning of a passion that has yet to recede after 24 years!
Mexico has so much to offer in so many areas that I have only been able to delve into a small portion of its many collecting opportunities. My interest is the Classics, in fact only a few issues of the Classics. I have yet to collect all the classics, or the post classics, or the early 20th Century, especially the rich revolutionary period. Nor have I touched the modern issues including the Architectural, the Exporta or the Conserva issues. Yet I know others who only collect Exporta, or only collect Revolution and never get beyond those areas. That is how rich Mexico stamps are.
The Classic era of Mexico is characterized by the stamps having overprints applied to validate them. The various overprints include the district post office name or number, or the year and invoice number or combinations of both. Some districts were large such as Mexico and Guadalajara; others were very small such as Baja California or Isla del Carmen. As a result, a stamp such as Scott™ #8, which has a catalogue value of $3 or $4 in Scott™, may have a catalogue value of $2,000 in Follansbee’s “A Catalogue of the Stamps of Mexico 1856-1910,” if you have one with an Isla del Carmen overprint! This book is a must if you collect classic Mexico.
There are many ways to collect Mexico. One can collect one issue, such as the issue of 1856 that has five basic values. To complete the issue, one must acquire many more. The Follansbee catalogue prices out 248 different stamps for this issue, not to mention non-priced items. Now, if that is not enough to retain your interest, there are the sub-office cancels. In my opinion, the classic stamps of Mexico have the most beautiful, ornate, and interesting cancels in the world. A few examples are shown in this article. I know collectors who specialize in just the issue of 1856 and including sub-office cancels have thousands of different varieties. Nearly every Classic Issue has these possibilities or more. Another way to collect is to specialize in a particular district instead of one issue. This way you get a broader knowledge of the stamps of Mexico. My favorite district to collect is Mazatlan.
The 20th Century also has numerous collecting areas. The Revolutionary period captures the imagination of many collectors. Times were tough, the country was in civil war and regional varieties abound, including private overprints made by Pancho Villa and other Generals of the Revolution. Mexico’s history is very rich including foreign interventions, an Emperor who wasn’t even Mexican, regional wars and military coups. All this is reflected in its philatelic heritage.
If one favors more modern stamps the Architecture and Archeology series, the Exporta issue and the Conserva provide many rich collecting opportunities. The Architecture and Archeology series was produced over a period of 25 years, and many varieties abound. The Exporta is one of the most popular stamp series of Mexico, produced over a period of 18 years. It has 14 different papers, 65 different values, 28 different releases, not to mention differences in tagging and perforations.Would you care to count how many varieties exist? Dealer Enrique Sanchez of Etianguis says there are 326, but my guess is that might not be the final say.
Another aspect to consider is the scarcity of the stamps in relation to their cost. For example, if you compare US #1, Great Britain #1, Mexico # 1, and Brazil #1, you will find the US produced 3.7 million stamps, Great Britain produced 18 Million, Brazil produced 850 thousand and Mexico 772 thousand. Yet a used US #1 has a value of $550, Great Britain is $260, Brazil is $550 and Mexico is only $35. Mexico is undervalued in relation to its scarcity and therefore a great collecting opportunity. You can assemble a beautiful collection of Mexico at a fraction of the cost of other countries.
Where does one start? There are many dealers, who specialize in Mexico, but the first step is to gain knowledge and the best resource of information is membership in Mexico Elmhurst Philatelic Society International (MEPSI). MEPSI produces an excellent journal entitled Mexicana, every issue is filled with many interesting articles on various aspects of Mexican Philately. Read through the remainder of our web-site, take a look at our journal, talk to our members and begin a journey that you will not soon forget or regret
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