This rare and very early article was first published in “The Stamp-Collector’s Magazine” (1869). It was written by F. P. Hassen, of the Buenos Aires post-office.
Above: Paraguay 1870 1r, 2r and 3r
That much doubt and confusion should exist in Europe as to the postal affairs of the out-of-the-way republic of Paraguay, is a matter of small surprise, when we see the discussions to which have given and give rise, the stamps of the quondam Argentine Confederation, and of some of the states forming part thereof, although this country maintains extensive commercial relations with the Old World. It shall be my aim now to enlighten my brother amateurs respecting the postal administration of Paraguay.
Paraguay, like the republic of Uruguay, originally formed part of the vice-royalty of the Plata, and, in common with its sister states, used for postal purposes a hand-stamp bearing the word FRANCA. Subsequently, on obtaining its independence, the hand-stamp here represented was adopted, and remained in use up to April, 1865.
I should premise, however, that this latter stamp did not immediately replace the “Franca” stamp, being adopted not many years ago. It did duty on all correspondence despatched from Paraguay down to the last-mentioned date, and showed that the letter on which it was printed was prepaid (like the Franca stamps of the colonial epoch). The ink used was black.
In April, 1865, war broke out between Paraguay and the Argentine Republic. The war still rages, and since then, consequently, no correspondence or mail matter whatever has been received from the post-office of the former country.
To the declaration of war ensued a blockade, strict and unbroken, of the Rio Parana, which runs through Argentine territory, and which conbtitutes the only avenue of maritime access to Paraguay.
These facts establish that no adhesives could ever have been seen on Paraguayan letters despatched by the post-office of that republic, previous to the rupture with the Argentine. Since then, no correspondence having circulated, in what manner can the authenticity of the so-called Paraguayan adhesives be proved?
The nation to which they are reputed to appertain being closed up to foreign commerce, and correspondence being interdicted, in what manner have they come to light? Have any obliterated copies been seen, not cancelled á fantaisie, but with a genuine cancelling mark? The character of the stamps catalogued in some manuals as Paraguayan may thus be judged of. But whilst we may condemn such fabrications as stamps, we must not couple the essays with them. From an authentic source I learn that during the Paraguayan envoy’s stay in France, a design for postage stamps was presented to him, but whether it was or was not employed remains a mystery, though its non-employment would appear most probable.
When a few months ago the allies occupied Assumption, the capital of the republic, among the articles forgotten in the evacuation and captured by our troops, was a die bearing the annexed design, being no doubt, the one offered to Lopez. This type is at present in the possession of the editor of a newspaper in this city, and I enclose with the present an impression from the original stamp, which I have cut out of his paper.
The fact that Paraguay, owing to its present abnormal condition, is debarred from all correspondence with other nations, added to the circumstance of the interior of the country being dotted with but few and insignificant towns, has probably prevented the employment of this type by the Paraguayan government.
To the foregoing I may add a piece of news of some importance to timbrophilists. The allies being in possession of the capital of the republic of Paraguay, as I have previously observed, are endeavouring to institute a provisional government there. This once accomplished, an emission of postage stamps will soon follow. Already the Argentine postmaster in Assumption has received instructions to turn over the post-office under his care to the authorities the Paraguayan provisional government may name, so the accomplishment of my vaticination probably will not be long delayed.
Meanwhile the postal service in that portion of Paraguay occupied by the allies (the most important section of the country) is under an Argentine chargé, the stamps used being also Argentine, obliterated by an H surrounded by lines, thus.
Touching on this subject I may state that in the army of the Argentine republic letters circulate free, bearing the imprint, in black ink, SIN CARGO (literally, “without charge”), enclosed in a transverse oval.
The Brazilian army envelopes, mentioned in catalogues, are confréres of the fictitious Paraguayan stamps. The greater part of the mail matter for and from the army in Paraguay, passes through the central post-office of this city, yet the so-called army envelopes have never been seen here, or at the allied camp.
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The writer of the above being an employé in the Bueuos Ayres post-office, his negative testimony respecting the new Paraguayan designs is of value, as he sooner than most others would have known had any stamps been issued. He clenches the arguments as to the improbability of there having been any emission; and there can be no question of the spurious origin of the labels, which we regret having been led to support.
That our contributor has but recently become a stamp-collector, and has not had access to the standard catalogues of stamps, is evident from his giving intelligence of the Paraguayan essay, figured above, as of an entire novelty; but to the well-known facts respecting it, he is able to add some new and interesting particulars.
His account of the finding of the die in Assumption is confirmed by Dr. Magnus, who has received from a trustworthy source two proofs struck from it, which were also found by the allies at the late Paraguayan capital. To be accurate, however, we should observe that it must be a cast from the original die which has been discovered, as the latter ia certainly at Paris, in the possession of M. Hulot.
Dr. Magnus observes that the proofs he has received are on a coarse yellowish paper, quite differed from that on which are printed the proofs already known, and he conjectures that the cast whence they have been taken is a simple leaden one. He further notices that the right upper corner of the impression is flattened, as if the cast had been injured by a blow or fall. He is probably correct as to the cast being of lead, for we find on the impression before us, cut out by our correspondent from the Buenos Ayres paper, similar evidence of impression from damaged type; more especially, the outer line is broken or bent in several places, and the angles are blunted. It is very possible that more than one cast has been found, and the impressions from each one would show different defects. That they are copies of the original die is, notwithstanding, unquestionable, and as one, at any rate, of these casts has already got into the hands of a Buenos Ayres editor, we may anticipate that it will ultimately be bought up by one of the stamp speculators of that city, and be used for the fabrication of a new lot of essays. Such essays, however, can have but a mediocre interest for collectors, and we would forewarn our reader against giving extravagant prices for them.