Queen Isabella II

May 14, 1847







A set of four stamps, although never officially issued, form the basis of the first stamp essays issued in the Philippines. The stamps are round, roughly engraved, and have the bust of Queen Isabella II of Spain facing left. The word “CORREOS” appears above and the corresponding value below, each in an ornamental scroll; the whole surrounded by an ornamental circle of different design for each value. The impression is in colour on white laid paper, imperforate, and issued in the following denominations:


Medio Real  (½-Real de Plata Fuerte) Green

Dos Res  (2-Reales de Plata Fuerte) Yellow

Cuatro Res  (4-Reales de Plata Fuerte)  Blue

Un Peso  (1-Peso)  Rose


Struck by the advantages of the new system of pre-paying letters adopted in Great Britain in 1840, the Postmaster-General of the Philippine Islands submitted to the Government of Spain a proposal, dated May 14th, 1847, for the adoption of this system in the Philippines and for the issue at the same time of four stamps for the pre-payment of the Island letters.


The proposal did not prove satisfactory to the Spanish Officials, predominantly because this system of pre-payment had not been adopted in the Peninsula, although it had been under consideration since 1843. Hence, these issues were rejected and never officially placed on sale.


The Archives of the General Post Office Department at Manila had the four designs for the stamps proposed on this occasion, affixed to a sheet of paper, with the following inscription:


Plan of stamps or little engravings for the pre-payment of correspondence in the interior of the Island of Luzon:


These stamps having been adopted, they would be made use of for the pre-payment of correspondence, by affixing to the cover of the letter or sheet one or more of them, to correspond with amount required by the postal tariff, exhibited at the offices at which they would be sold, which would be the same as those appointed for the sale of stamped paper.


Signed - Manuel de Urioste


The first mention of these stamps was in 1865 in an article by M N Rondot in Magasin Pittoresque (page 263), where he states to have knowledge of a project to issue stamps for mail to be used in Luzon's island in 1847, although not having been approved.  He confirms that four values were prepared and the stamps were round and inscribed “CORREOS”.


It is unlikely that the stamps were ever used for postage, despite the article “Les Timbres de 1847 des Iles Philippines” by M B Moens in Le Timbre-Poste (Number 115, Page 55) in 1872, which states that “on the 14th of May 1847, the Postmaster-General of the Philippines, Don Antonio Gutierrez y Pavia, proposed to the Home Government to issue four postage stamps for the pre-payment of the Island letters. The Postmaster, who no doubt did not expect to be met by a refusal, had already put the stamps in circulation, and they were used for some little time for the inter-insular correspondence of Luzon and Manila”.


An article “Les Premiers Timbres des Iles Philippines” was published in Le Timbre-Poste (Number 212, Pages 69 and 72) in October 1880, stating that “the project was not attributed to Don Antonio Gutierrez y Pavia, but instead to Señor Manuel de Urioste”. In the same article, a letter from Don Antonio Gutierrez states that “the Post Office Department of the Philippines had never rendered any account of its receipts and expenditure in the matter of the pre-payment of letters until the first quarter of 1854”. It was at this date that the Department came under the direction of Don Antonio Gutierrez.


These essays are detailed here for interest only. It is believed that only one printed pane containing all four essays was prepared. No printed stamps are known and it is believed that they were never issued in line with the Spanish Government’s negative response.



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