Panama Stamps

What can Be Done: Suppose you really really want a country to cede or sell you a strip of land so you can build a canal. And suppose that country doesn’t want to do that. What do you do? Well, if you were the US in the early nineteenth century and the area was Central America, you’d create a revolution, quickly recognize the new territory, and sign a treaty that gave you access to the Canal Zone where you wanted to build your Canal. And so the country of Panama was born. Because Panama was a Colombian state until 1903, the early Panamanian stamps were overprints on Colombian stamp stocks that were left behind when Colombia ceded control. These first Panamanian issues are hard to find, and many varieties are known of the overprints, even though most are not very expensive. Panama has been a moderate issuer of stamps until very modern times, and highly complete collections of Panama stamps are not difficult to form.

Panama philately has a strong tie in to the stamps of the Canal Zone, which is listed as a US Possession in the catalogs and is very popular with US collectors. The early issues of Panama (many of which were “Panama” overprints on Colombian stamps) were re-overprinted for use in the Canal Zone by the US Territorial government. This US philately association has always made Panama a bit more popular than most of the rest of Central America.

Specialty Catalogs: The Scott catalog and the Scott Classic catalog are very good for Panama, listing numerous varieties on the early issues.

Specialty Albums: The Scott Specialty series is very good for Panama.

Expense: Panama is a great country to collect for people on a budget. The stamps are very interesting with many of the varieties having an association with US history which many collectors find appealing. But since there are virtually no indigenous Panamanian philatelists, demand for Panama stamps is low. Even rarities cost less than $100, and there are very few of those. There are few major countries with as much history, interest, and as many listed stamps as Panama that can be collected for such little cost.

Availability of Material: The early issues of Panama are difficult to find, and the overprint varieties make for a real challenge. Later Panama is readily available.

Overall Grade: B

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