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Belgium is a constitutional monarchy since the 1830s (after its separation from the Netherlands), it is situated in western Europe where Dutch, French, and German are spoken. Belgium’s first issued stamps in July 1849, the brown 10c and the blue 20c called Epaulettes. They depict King Leopold I, the monarch at the time, wearing the ornamental shoulder pieces called epaulettes, giving the stamp its colloquial name. Its introduction symbolizes the start of the Belgium postal reforms, based on the British model from 1940.
Several variations, especially regarding to colour, exist and thus makes it a very good collectible pieces. The first issues were watermarked, engraved in copper plates, and imperforated on hand-made paper. Reprints were unwatermarked and printed in both thin and thick paper. Even later reprints shall have a similar watermark ‘L L’ to the first issues, but without a frame, and show a much lower catalogue value. Later prints may also present different sizes to the earlier ones. Unused versions are quite higher valued than cancelled specimens – although multiples sell at a much higher premium.
The Epaulettes were used within the kingdom only, with reprints in 1866, 1882, 1895, 1929, and 1949. They were officially demonetized in 1866. The Epaulettes do not carry the country’s name, which started being used in 1869. Stamps of Belgium can be found carrying its name in French (Belgique), Dutch (België) and German (Belgien).
Catalogue Value: Unused *****, Used ***
* 0.1 - 49 USD
** 50 - 99 USD
*** 100 - 499 USD
**** 500 - 999 USD
***** 1'000 - 9'999 USD
****** + 10'0000 USD
The First Issues Blog is a place to discuss about the stamp number 1 of each country, territory, district, etc. Each additional item to my new collection shall receive a small description about the item, its history and curiosities.
Note that I may add more than 1 'number one' stamp to a place. This happens as I judge that in the case of independence or any other political issue that changed the postal history or when I deemed interesting to do so. This will be noted on the posts when it happens.