On July 16 & 17, 1902 an extensive fire swept thru Quayaquil, Ecuador. The ruins of Guayaquil are shown a 1903 Post Card. After the fire it was discovered that a large quantity of mint postage and revenue stamps had been stolen. To prevent use of these stolen stamps the Government ordered Provincial authorities to hand stamp all their remaining stamps with Control Marks.
Ruins of Guayaquil after the 1902 Fire
Each Province designed their own different hand stamp and applied them in different colors. The stamps that were overprinted were the 1899 Issue (#137 thru #144) and the 1901 Issue (#145 thru #152). Also overprinted were the 1901-1902 issue of Revenue Stamps (O124 thru #O131). Both Juhani V. Olamo in “The Revenue Stamps of Ecuador” & Vicenio Fernandez in “Sin Valor Postal” (1992) state that there is no legal basis on which the 1902 Fire Control Marks could appear on the 1899-1900 stamp issues since they were retired on Sept. 20, 1901, before the fire. Leo John Harris in an article in the “Postal History Journal” (June 1962) states that ‘percentage-wise only a very few of the 1899 issue stamps received the control marks since it may be reasoned that by the summer of 1902, the stock of these stamps was nearing exhaustion’. Olamo states that some of the control marks are forgeries done by Francois Fourier. These forgeries will be noted as they occur throughout this article. The fire control marks can also be confused with the ‘Escolares’ surcharges on the Ecuador issues of 1905-1906 and 1907-1908.
For each province I will show a stamp with the Control Mark on it and then a line drawing of each Control Mark.
Azuay Province: Scott 148
Azuay Province – This Control Mark (Scott 148/1901) was always stamped over two vertical stamps and is found only in Black on Scott #145 thru #152.
Bolivar Province: Scott 140 (style 1), Scott 150 (style 2) and Scott 148 (style 3)
Bolivar Province – This Style #1 Control Mark was stamped on the 1901 issues, Scott #145 thru #152 in Black. It can be found in Red (Scott 140/1899 & Scott 148/1902), but they are considered forgeries by Francois Fournier.
The Style #2 Control Mark (Scott 150/1902) was stamped on all the 1901 issues in Black & Violet and also in Red or Violet on Scott #141 thru #143. I also have this Control Mark also on Revenue O126. Olamo states that all Style #2 Control Marks are forgeries by Francois Fournier.
Style #3 Control Mark (Scott 148/1902) was stamped on all of the 1901 issues in Black.
Carchi Province: Scott 145
Canar Province – This Control Mark, which I do not have a stamp, was always stamped over a block of four stamps. Fernandez & Harris state that they are found in Red on Scott #145 thru #148 and #151 and Olamo states that they are only found in Orange on Scott #146 & #148.
Carchi Province – This Control Mark (Scott 145/1902) is found in Black on all the 1901 issues, and in Violet on Scott #145 thru #148.
Chimborazo Province: Scott 149
Esmeraldas Province: Scott 148
Chimborazo Province – This Control Mark (Scott 149/1901) is found in Violet or Bluish-Green on the 1901 issues. Fernandez states that it can be found on Scott #145 thru 151 in Blue. I also have this Control Mark on Revenue O124in Blue. Harris states that it can be found in Green on Scott #138, 139 & #142, but they are probably Fournier forgeries.
Esmeraldas Province – This Control Mark (Scott 148/1901) is found in Red on all the 1901 issues. Harris & Fernandez state it can found in Black on most of the 1901 issues. Olamo states that all of the Esmeraldas Control Marks are Fournier forgeries.
Guayas Province: Scott 146
Guayas Province – The Control Mark (Scott 146/1901) is the rubric ‘CBenjRo’ of Guayas Governor Carlos Benjamin Rosales and is the easiest Control Mark to find. It can be found in Violet, Blue & Black on all the 1901 issues, although Olamo lists it only in blue and purplish black. I know from experience that it is nearly impossible to distinguish between blue & black, since many of the colors have faded. Both Harris & Fernandez list the 1899 issues in black, and Olamo states that all the Guayas Province issues are Fournier forgeries. I have this Control Mark on Revenues #O125 thru #O130.
Imbabura Province – This Control Mark which I have never seen on a stamp is listed by Olama & Fernandez. Olama lists it on Scott #146 & #148 in either Blue, Green or Violet. Fernandez lists it only on Revenue Stamps in Greenish-Blue or Violet.
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