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Brazil is a former Portuguese colony and acquired its independence in 1822 – becoming a constitutional monarchy (Dom Pedro I being the first monarch). The empire period lasted until 1889, where a brief republic period lasted until the dictatorship of 1920-34 and 1937-45. Another period of republic lasted until a military coup in 1964, which lasted until
1985. Following this date, Brazil has been a federal republic, governed by a president elected for a 4-year mandate (with the possibility of one re-election).
Brazil was the second nation in the world to issue stamps (country-wide, while including local issues, it would be the fourth to do so). The Brazilian postage stamp history is quite rich in themes and colours, representing a good narration of the country’s political and economical moments– one may consider it a real story-telling. Brazilian postal authorities seem to have recognized the importance of stamps early on, especially due to the fact it would travel around the world, representing the country’s image.
Brazilian stamps were inaugurated by the Bulls Eye (or sometimes mentioned as Ox Eye), which showed ornamental value figures. Curiously, since the first issue, Brazilian issues and series have continuously been nicknamed: snake’s eye, goat’s eye, cat’s eye, and so on.
A Brazilian Bull Eye 60rs from 1843
The country’s issues have suffered from falsification right from the beginning. Issuing stamps with the monarch (Dom Pedro II) was a way of making counterfeiting difficult as well as served as some sort of political marketing.
A curious fact is that the issues from 1866 and the following decade show the monarch looking quite older than his actual age at the time – fact pointed out by Jack Child, who offers no explanation for this case. May it be possible this would bring him more respect; by the belief older people are more experienced? (2006, p. 163)
In the beginning, Brazilian stamps did not carry the country’s name. Later, ‘Brasil Correio’,‘Estados Unidos do Brasil’ and, more recently, the country’s name and year (like ‘Brasil 2000’) were included, and make it easier for a stamp collector to recognize it.
Brazilian Empire stamps picturing Dom Pedro II from 1866-76
The Brazilian series of 1920-1941, called “Série Vovó” (Grandmother Series, in free translation) is one of the most challenging for collectors. Numerous images, each with a series of different perforations, watermarks, colour nuances, paper thicknesses and some also with overprints. The different watermarks themselves are presented in
different ways: written backwards, vertically, horizontally… well, you name it!
The recent issues, however, have presented other types of challenges for collectors: adhesive stamps which one can barely take off the paper without ruining it. This, however, has been cause for complaint of collectors from all around the world, as many post offices around the globe have been adopting the trend set in the 1960s (I should add here, however, that some types of solvents should do the trick when water does not).
Child, Jack. (2009). Miniature Messages: The Semiotics and Politics of Latin American Postage Stamps. Duke University Press. Pages 163-165
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