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Valira Torrent:   Contents | Subject index

Perforation image from Serif Art Gallery. © Serif Inc, 1996

Valira Torrent - bulletin of the Andorran Philatelic Study Circle. Issue 17, pp2-4 (March 1983)

Copyright notice

The 1932 "Semi-official Arimails (Part 3)

By Carlos Romo

The Stamps

The stamps were printed in Barcelona by Taller Gráfico Nuñez y C.S. en C., San Ramón # 5 in sheets of two panes of fifty, separated by a gutter margin. The exact amount of the original printing of each value has never been possible to ascertain accurately; there are no known reliable records, to our knowledge, of the original printing order. A set of five proof sheets bearing 3 strips of five of each of the 5 types inscribed 25c, 50c and 25c. The sheets which are in red, light green, light violet, olive green, and chestnut red were illustrated in a "Laiz Subastas" Madrid auction catalogue of 1979 or 1980. On these sheets some handwritten figures can be seen annotated on the margins, one of which is totally visible showing a 180,000 figure. A hypothesis could be made that this figure could have been the amount of the original order for at least that one value, but more needs to be learned before we can give firm information. The vertical type in these sheets bears the inscription "25 centims", although the final series used this type for the pesetas value only.

The 3 types

The series consisted of three basic types in twelve values:-
25ccarmine red (1) 1.75grey (2)
50clilac (1) 2ptagreen (2)
75cyellow green (1) 2.50light green (3)
1ptaviolet brown (1) 3.25yellow brown (3)
1.25light red (2) 4.50brown red (3)
1.50yellow (2) 5ptalight blue (3)

Normally these labels are line perf. 11; but many perforation varieties are known:- imperforate, partially perforate, imperforate between, double perforations, etc.

A number of these labels were overprinted FRANQUICIA DEL CONSELL, and these were apparently meant to have been for the exclusive use of the General Council of Andorra for official correspondence. It has been stated that only a small amount of the issue was overprinted in this manner; but as with all printing amounts previously given at different sources it is difficult to be certain as they all seem to have been understated, judging by the information which we have presented. Needless to say, these overprints are known inverted and also double.

Inverted and double overprints

Another small number of these labels were overprinted "MUESTRA" (Specimen) in fancy print with serifs, and this overprint is found on all values. The overprint on the horizontal format values differs slightly to that applied to the vertical designs - one difference being that the serifs of the overprint on the vertical designs are less pronounced. Double overprints are known and the 2pta value regularly exists in this condition. This overprint bears a strong similarity to the one found on the 1938 "Correo Submarino" issue of the Spanish Republic as well as the one on the 1938 Nationalist Spain issue "Ejercito y Marina". This gives the impression that the overprint was applied by the same (unofficial ?) party. The 1932 labels were a private issue whose producers had no need to present specimen stamps to the UPU in Berne, since these were not actually postage stamps in the strict meaning of the word, nor were they an Official Government issue.

The Muestra overprint

The "Aeri" issue was printed by Nuñez y C.S.en C. in Barcelona, probably in 1931, while the Spanish Republic issue was printed by Oliva de Vilanova also in Barcelona in 1936, and the Nationalist Spain issue was printed by Orell Füslli in Switzerland in 1938; it is therefore strange to find similar "MUESTRA" overprints on all these issues.

The submarine post stamp

The "new" MUESTRA overprint

One would think that enough had been done to make this otherwise drab series interesting, but no...   In late 1976 there appeared on the Philatelic Market the announcement of the "discovery" of 150 sets of 8 values to the 2pts. bearing a different type of "MUESTRA" overprint heretofore unknown to all, which had supposedly been lying dormant among the documents in the files of an "Old Sindic" of Andorra. He was supposed to have received them as a gift to the General Council from the Promotor of the airline himself! In this announcement it is claimed that: "the overprinting had been done by the FABRICA NACIONAL DE MONEDA Y TIMBRE" in Madrid "and remitted to the Sindic General of those days" (no names mentioned). That it is the only "Specimen" series known to have been officially issued with the "AGREEMENT OF THE COUNCIL OF THE VALLEYS AND OF THE SPANISH POSTAL ADMINISTRATION". These "stamps" were offered with an accompanying guarantee signed by M. Jean Bacquer of Toulon, France. On the reverse of each stamp a pencil-written signature is found which reads "Roigt" which is supposed to have been the signature of a "well known Barcelona specialist long time deceased".

"New" muestra overprint

Although there was a well known specialist in Spanish classics named Roig, no such name as "Roigt" exists in Catalonia or anywhere else in Spain that anyone knows of. As to be expected, double overprints were also found in this discovery!

This overprint was immediately denounced by Messrs. Jacques and Tanner of the A.P.S.C., and in 1979 an investigation was conducted by "Philandorre", the French Andorran Philatelic Study Group. It was discovered that this "MUESTRA" overprint had been applied with a type of synthetic ink not yet available for use in the days when the labels were supposedly overprinted.

The author would like to express his thanks to the following people for their valued assistance with this study:- Messrs. D. E. Bishop; J. Gelonch Guimet; R. Jové Llavaneras; R. E. Parke; E. Sangrá Font; D. W. Tanner and Mrs. J. M. Canudas.

Part 1 | Part 2

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