For a relatively small country, Costa Rica punches above its weight with a good selection of philatelic resources.
The Society for Costa Rica Collectors (EN) – known better as Socorico – has published its in-house journal, The Oxcart, four times a year since 1960. The Society also runs a regular auction programme.
Based in Costa Rica, The Philatelic Association of Costa Rica (AFCR) (ES) has been in existence since 1932 and publishes a monthly digital bulletin, available on its website. It also produces the semi annual Costa Rica Filatélica (ES).
Finally, there is the Costa Rica Revenue and Postage Society who publish Costa Rica Timbre (ES). Contact the editor Alvaro Castro-Harrigan email@example.com.
Socorico also publishes the comprehensive Costa Rica Postal Catalogue (EN) by Hector Mena. First published in 1994, the most current hard copy catalogue is the fourth edition from 2014.
It is an award winning catalog comprising over fifty years’ worth of compiled data from the various philatelic journals dedicated to Costa Rican philately over the period, with separate sections dedicated to airmail, postal stationery and telegraphs. Includes proof, essay and specimen data with eight pages dedicated to the difficult Guanacaste overprints. Images are black and white, although there is a digital (CD) edition with color images available, produced in 2018. At just $12 for SOCORICO members it is a bargain.
Also worth looking out for is the Saenz Catalogo de Sellos Postales de Costa Rica (EN/ES).
The blog www.estampillascr.com (EN/ES) is an excellent source of articles dedicated to Costa Rica.
The International Cuban Philatelic Society (EN/ES) publishes a quarterly, bilingual journal, available to members only.
The Miami-based Cuban Philatelic Society of America (EN) also publishes a bilingual journal, The Cuban Philatelist, three times a year.
The Spanish publisher Edifil produces the Catálogo de Sellos de Cuba (ES) in three volumes. For the classic period collector you’ll need the specialized Volume 1 that covers the period 1855 to 1958. It was last published in 2015.
Another good investment is the Handbook of the Stamps of Cuba (EN). Published by the Cuban PSA, it can be purchased via its website.
It lacks valuation or comparative scarcity data but otherwise provides plenty of detail. The book is divided into distinct sections covering the three periods of the Spanish Dominion, the US Administration and the Republic. Particularly welcome are the textual narratives before each issue which give useful context and background to the stamps.
www.filat.com (EN/ES) covers a broad sweep of Cuban philately including a very detailed bibliographic section. Lots to get stuck into.
For a detailed appraisal of the early issues, www.jjareal.com (ES) is also a useful resource.
The Dominican Philatelic Society seems to keep a low profile; I don’t have contact details. However, El Filotelico (ES) is the society journal and was still being published in 2020.
A specialist catalogue on stamps from the Dominican Republic has not been published for a number of years. The latest I am aware of is the Amiama catalogue – Catalogo de Sellos Postales Dominicanos (ES) by Luis Amiama Veloz in 1988.
Luis Amiama was an eminent Dominican Republic philatelist who first published his specialized catalogue in 1980 and then again in 1988; it hasn’t been reprinted and is difficult to find.
An excellent alternative is Danilo A. Mueses’ Emisiones Postales Dominicanos 1865-1965 (ES) which was published by the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic in 1999. This is a far more scholarly work, telling the story of the first one-hundred years of Dominican postal history via its stamp issues. For a more detailed appraisal of the classics, Mueses has also published an in depth exploration of the 1865-76 period Dominican Republic – The Classic Stamps (EN/ES), published in 2001.
The US based International Society of Guatemala Collectors (EN) has been publishing its quarterly magazine, El Quetzal, since 1949. The society is particularly active with a regular schedule of Zoom talks.
There are two essential volumes: Guatemala -1 and -2 (EN), now available as a digital download (see below).
Guatemala -1 covers postal history and philately up until 1902 and was published in 1969. Guatemala -2 continues up until 1971 and was released in 1974. Both were edited by Roland A. Goodman and published by the ISGC. They have been reprinted but the well-illustrated originals are the ones to go for. Guatemala -1 even came with an Esso road map of Guatemala (!).
Guatemala 1 and 2 (affectionally known as G1 and G2) have been the Guatemala collector’s bible for over fifty years. The catalogues contain a wealth of textual information, enabling the reader to understand the story behind each issue. Plate flaws and overprint varieties are covered in depth; for example the 1886 Rail Bond Provisional gets over seventeen pages alone. There are also excellent sections on postal rates, post offices, markings and cancellations.
Also worth acquiring is The Postage Stamps of Guatemala (EN/ES), edited by Gruson and Jickling, again published by the ISGC. The latest edition, printed in 2008, catalogues varieties and print numbers etc from 1871 to 2007.
In 2023, the ISGC published an expanded and updated digital handbook, combining the existing publications with new listings and a wealth of additional colour images. You can read more about the new handbook here.
The Haiti Philatelic Society (EN) runs a regular series of auctions and has an indexed quarterly journal, Haiti Philately. The journal runs from inception in 1975 to the present day and is now available in digital format.
There isn’t a specialized catalogue for the Haiti collector. Varieties tend to be fewer than for other Latin American countries due to a large proportion of the earlier issues being printed by the American Bank Note Company with their excellent quality control.
However, specialist publications and articles exist to help with the more complex first issues and the later overprints and provisionals. It is also worth noting that the Scott Classic Specialized has dedicated MNH valuations for all Haiti’s issues, a feature not found for any other Latin American country.
A handy, early guide worth searching out is The Postage Stamps of Hayti (EN) by Fred Melville. This provides an overview of each issue from the Liberty Head series up until 1904.
Honduras has a small in-country association, the Federación Filatélica de la República de Honduras (contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further details). They also have a Facebook page and publish a journal Honduras Filatélica (ES).
I’m not aware of a specialized Honduras catalogue.
www.hondurasstamps.com (EN) closes the gap on the lack of other resources and is one of the best enthusiast sites out there. It provides reviews of each issue up until 1940 and considered advice on separating the genuine from the fraudulent.
The well-established Mexico-Elmhurst Philatelic Society (EN), more usually referred to as MEPSI, has published its quarterly journal, Mexicana, since 1952. It also offers an expertization service.
In Mexico, Amexfil (Asociacion Mexicana de Filatelia) produces a magazine (ES) and can be contacted at email@example.com.
Mexico is blessed with a good selection of specialized philatelic publications but the one I refer to most is A Catalogue of the Stamps of Mexico 1856-1910 (EN) by Nicholas Follansbee. Now in its fourth edition, the current version was published in 2015.
It covers an era of philatelic complexity where a catalogue of this type really comes into its own. The early district overprints are handled in depth, with individual prices for each value per district. With such a huge variance in price, this is the sort of catalog that can repay its cost many times over by being able to understand the relative values of each district overprint. The inclusion of priced multiples is also to be welcomed.
Follansbee has published a subsequent catalogue detailing the 1913-1916 Revolutionary period.
For a specialized catalogue that covers all periods, I would recommend finding a copy of the Celis Cano Catalogo Especializado de los Sellos Postales de Mexico (ES). My copy dates from 1974.
The discussion forum at www.meximail.org (EN) is a good source of information. Coverage of the 1856-1861 issues is explored at www.mexico.ameridane.net (EN) as are the ‘eagle’ issues at www.eagles.ameridane.net (EN).
Information on the Nicaragua Study Group is hosted at www.bio-nica.info (EN). The group produces an excellent journal, Nicarao (EN) with a superb index for rapid data look up. The index is frequently updated and also cross references with The Mainsheet and the Central American Newsletter. Back issues are available digitally. Contact Michael Schreiber at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicaragua is a philatelic specialist’s dream with its myriad of provisional overprints and the inevitable varieties that can keep you hunting for a lifetime.
The standard work is Clyde Maxwell’s Nicaragua to 1940 – A Philatelic Handbook (EN), originally published in 1992. However, it was updated in 2020 and made available as a digital file only, with greatly improved color illustrations. Although stamps are not priced, the new edition retains Maxwell’s useful value ratings which allows you to understand the comparative scarcity and value of the vast number of collectable varieties. An update to the second edition (Version 3) was published in July 2022.
The Colombia-Panama Philatelic Study Group (EN), more commonly known as COPAPHIL, produces a quarterly journal, COPACARTA for members.
In Panama itself, there is also ASOFILPA (The Philatelic Association of Panama) (ES).
COPAPHIL did distribute The Stamps of Panama 1878-2010: Vital Statistics by Federico Brid (EN) but it is now out of print.
Originally published in 2008, it was last updated with revisions in 2014. As well as details on varieties it includes postal rates, authorization decrees and numbers printed.
Unlike most Latin American catalogues, the publishers have licensed the use of the Scott numbering system and follow the well-established Scott protocol of regular issues followed by airmail and back-of-the-book.
www.icollectpanama.com (EN) is a useful resource for the early issues.
The Asociación Filatélica Salvadoreña (AFISAL) (EN/ES) was formed in 2004, being the merger of two Salvadorian and US societies. It currently publishes the El Salvador Philatelist (EN) and back issues of the previous journals (El Salvador Philatelico (EN) and El Faro (EN)) have been made available digitally.
El Salvador is one of the few Latin American nations that has never had a dedicated catalogue for specialized collectors. However, a major leap forward was taken in 2021 with the publication of The 19th Century Issues of El Salvador (EN), co-authored by Guillermo Gallegos and Joseph Hahn, covering the period from 1867-1900.
This is a very detailed work with a vast amount of data for the specialist, particularly in its treatment of the Seebeck period. The book discusses each issue in a chronological fashion, covering the relevant decrees, essays, proofs, specimens, varieties, cancellations, postmarks, forgeries and reproductions, together with a comprehensive review of the postal history, with a large selection of different types of usage for each issue.
Although not strictly a catalogue (there is no pricing data), it is an invaluable resource for the El Salvador collector.
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