Classic Chile

Chile was one of the last South American countries to be colonized. With little gold or silver to exploit or passive Indians to enslave, the southwest coast of South America was not as attractive to the Spanish invaders as was the rest of the new world. Colonization came later when copper was found, and when the rich Mediterranean style climate showed that European type crops (and especially grapes) could be grown and when steam sailing ships and railroads could link the long narrow nation. Geographically, Chile is a narrow ribbon of a nation averaging 100 miles wide by 2700 mile long. The first stamps of Chile were issued in 1853 and were produced in London. The plates were transferred to Chile and over the next fifteen years numerous printings were made. With “a” numbers, Scott recognizes about sixty different printing, shade, watermark and color varieties putting the first issues of Chile in the same class as the classic Hermes Heads of Greece as among the most super specialized stamps of the world. Showing Chile’s late colonization and the influence of recent European immigrants, the portrait of Columbus on the first issues of Chile are the only use by any South American country of a European on their first issue of stamps. The Columbus Heads of Chile have always been popular. There is significant demand for these stamps in Chile itself and the stamps are attractively printed and beautifully engraved. And they are very scarce relative to price. We offer only a few hundred per year (total stamps, not lots, and this is out of the hundreds of thousands of stamps that we sell). Even so, a complete collection of these tough stamps can still be put together for only a few hundred dollars

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