Queen Isabella II

February 1, 1854


The first official postage stamps of the Philippine Islands, issued specifically for domestic usage within the interior of the Islands, constituted a set of the following four values:

5-Cuartos. Issued for domestic mail under half-an-ounce, (single weight interior postal rate). A total of 5,000 stamps, (125 sheets), were printed in shades of orange, pale orange, reddish orange, and brownish orange. The stamps remained in use until January 1859.  (Scott #1; Edifil #1; SG #1)

10-Cuartos. Issued for domestic mail between half-an-ounce and one ounce, (double weight interior postal rate).  A total of 5,000 stamps, (125 sheets), were printed in shades of rose, carmine, and dark carmine. The stamps remained in use until January 1859.  (Scott #2 Edifil #2; SG #3)

1-Real Fuerte. Issued for domestic mail between one ounce and one-and-a-half ounces, with an extra 10-cuartos charged for every half-ounce or part of half ounce thereafter. Also used as ordinary letter rate to Spain from June 1, 1855. There is inconsistency to the exact numbers issued, indicating that either 2,000 or 3,000 stamps, (50 or 75 sheets), were printed in shades of ultramarine, bright blue, slate-blue, pale bluish-grey and pale grey. The stamps remained in use until January 1856.  (Scott #4; Edifil #3; SG #5)

2-Reales Fuerte. Issued as a registration fee on mail. There is inconsistency to the exact numbers issued, indicating that either 2,000 or 3,000 stamps, (50 or 75 sheets), were printed in shades of green, yellow-green, emerald-green, and olive-green. The stamps remained in use until January 1856.  (Scott #5; Edifil #4; SG #7)

The design of this issue was based on the Spanish stamp of 1853. The basic differences being the alteration of the date to read “1854 Y 1855” instead of “1853”, and the change in the value tablets to reflect the local Philippine currency of Cuartos and Real Fuerte, (with 20-cuartos equal to 1 Real Fuerte).

Spanish Issue

Philippine Issue

The design portrays the right profile of Queen Isabella II on a background of fine curved lines, surrounded by an oval of pearls, broken at the top and bottom by horizontal inscription labels, all in Roman lettering. The spandrels are filled with horizontal lines.

For the 5-cuartos and 10-cuartos values, the upper label bears the word “CORREOS” (Postage) and the date “1854 Y 1855”; while the lower label contains the word “FRANCO” (Pre-paid) and the corresponding value. On the 1-Real Fuerte and 2-Reales Fuerte values, these labels are transposed, the upper bearing the value, and the lower the date.

The stamps were hand-engraved on copper plates in Manila in “taille-douce”, (a type of engraving on copper plates where the design is made up of a series of lines), by an Artillery Corps Sergeant in the Spanish Garrison, whose name remains unknown. He exhibited tremendous patience in reproducing forty copies of each value on different plates. Being hand-engraved, each stamp in the sheet differs in detail, and as a result it is possible to plate the forty varieties of each value.

The stamps were Recess printed by Plana, Jorba y Cia (Comapañia), Plaza de Binondo, Manila, in sheets of forty stamps, (eight horizontal rows of five). They were printed on wove, medium to thick paper, which is extremely brittle. The gum used is normally yellowish to pale orange in color. Inks were purchased from local Chinese stores in Binondo, Manila, which were varied and not lasting in color; further subjected to extremes of humidity and temperatures over the years causing oxidation on some of the inks.

A thin line exists around the entire sheet which measures 102mm x 193mm from border to border. The stamps were issued imperforated on unwatermarked paper with each stamp measuring 18½ x 21½ mm. The space between stamps is quite narrow, about 1mm, so that large margins are not to be expected. The 5-Cuartos and 10-Cuartos values were printed on brittle, thin to thick white paper; and the 1-Real and 2-Reales on brittle, smooth, thick yellowish paper.

The stamps were crudely drawn providing an unflattering, and somewhat distorted, likeness of the portrait of Queen Isabella. It was reported that when the stamps came to the Queen's attention for the first time, nearly two years after issue, she was shocked and immediately forbade the continuance of their use on mail to Spain.

Large blocks or sheets of these stamps exist with circular dotted cancellations obliterating the stamps. These came from the stock left in the hands of the Government, and were thus cancelled in this manner to destroy their fiscal value when withdrawn from circulation. In 1881, the greater part of the stock then remaining in the treasury was sold to M. J. B. Moens. It should be noted that the plates used for the printing of all stamps were, in general, destroyed after the work was completed in order to prevent illegal printing of the stamps.

It was not found altogether easy to introduce the use of postage stamps in the early days, evident from the following extract from the letter of Don Antonio Gutierrez, published in Le Timbre-Poste in October 1880:

“Having undertaken the office of Director-General of Posts in the Philippine Islands, at the commencement of 1854, in spite of the difficulties that my predecessors had encountered in overcoming the obstacles presented by the character of the people and the indecision of the Magistrates and Governors of the provinces, who could not make up their minds to accept the responsibility imposed upon them by Article 2 of the Decree of December 7, 1853, I succeeded nevertheless, thanks to the goodwill of the Governors of the Districts and the native authorities, in establishing, from the month of March 1854, a regular service throughout the Archipelago, with the exception however of the Marianne Islands, Catandanar, and Batanar, on account of the want of communications between those provinces and the capital, Manila; but this irregularity disappeared after a year in the case of the first two islands and after two years in the case of the third.”

It is noteworthy that despite February 1, 1854 being recognised as the official first day of sale, an article in the Philippine Philatelic News (Volume 2, No. 6, October – December 1976), makes mention of a block of four of the 5-Cuartos value with a postmark bearing the date of January 21, 1854. An article entitled ‘Brief History of the Philippines as Portrayed On Its Stamps’ by Don Pablo Esperidion in the Philippine Journal of Philately (Volume IV, No. 1, September – October 1951) indicates that the first set of stamps were issued on January 16, 1854.


The copper plates used for this issue wore out rapidly and underwent continual retouches, and in some cases re-engraving, during the printing process. The retouched plates often produced stamps with coarse lines of shading on the background around the Queen’s head.


Original State
Fine Lined


Coarse Lined

5-Cuartos: One Plate

This plate underwent several retouches and re-engravings during the printing. There are claims that a second plate was created for this value, producing coarse lines of shading on the background around the Queen's head, in comparison to the finer lines on the original plate. However, most authorities doubt the existence of two separate plates, and believe the coarse lines are due to wear and retouching of one original plate.


10-Cuartos: Three Plates

Plate 1 – Black: The stamps were hand-engraved on copper plates and printed on thin, white, unwatermarked paper. They were printed in sheets of forty, consistent with other plates, with forty varieties to the sheet. They were printed with a very small '0' in '10 Cs', and as a result were never officially authorised. However, some copies were put on sale at the Post Office before they were withdrawn. This is further supported by a hand-written letter from the Secretary of the Civil Government of Zambales, signed by C. Rubio, which reads: “As regards the 1854 stamp, it is perfectly genuine. Only a few sheets of this, the first issue, were printed, but it was not approved of, so instructions were given to issue it in carmine. Some of these stamps were used without authorisation during the few days they were at the Post Office before the circulation was finally forbidden. The Governor-General there-upon issued a lawsuit for unauthorised usage.” A large block is known to have existed, but was cut up, resulting in one block of six, a couple of pairs and a few singles. Only one postally used copy, tied to piece, is known; another copy with pen cancel exists. (Edifil #NE1)

Plate 2 – Rose: The size of the '0' in '10 Cs' is corrected and larger on this plate. The engraving of this stamp is very fine and a fluid ink was used. This plate was neither retouched nor re-engraved. Stamps only exist with fine lines of shading.


Plate 3 – Carmine: Similar to Plate 2, but engraved with coarser and thicker characters. A thicker ink was used, which fixed the lines of this plate better. Retouching of one single plate was carried out on the worn out plate. Stamps exists with fine and coarse lines of shading.


1-Real Fuerte: One Plate


This plate underwent several retouches and re-engravings. In the first printings, the color was deep blue, but varied considerably during subsequent printings, going from dull slate, blue-grey, very deep ultramarine to deep blue. Stamps exist with both fine and coarse lines of shading.


2-Reales Fuerte: One Plate


This plate was never re-engraved, but some positions on the plate were retouched. The first printings were in emerald green which turned to a very pale, bottled-green shade in the later printings. Stamps exist with both fine and coarse lines of shading.



10-Cuartos Black (Plate 1). One of the stamps in the sheet of forty was issued with the word “CORREOS” incorrectly spelt “CORRREOS”. It is not possible to confirm the position of this error on the sheet, given no full sheet is known to exist.



1-Real Fuerte. There is one major variety on the sheet of the 1-real value, which is found on position 26, (first stamp of the sixth row), where the word "CORREOS" is spelt "CORROS" in error. Being a constant variety, this error exists on both printings and in each of the varying shades. (Scott #4c; SG #5a and #5ba; Edifil #3it and #3bit)


1853 - 1854

In 1853, the first issue of postage stamps specifically for domestic use in the Philippines was ordered. This was a direct result from a Royal Decree of Queen Isabella II, issued in Madrid, Spain, on January 12, 1853, establishing compulsory pre-payment of correspondence within the interior of the Islands. This directed the Governor-General to take the necessary steps for the manufacture and sale of stamps for domestic use in the Philippines.

To the Governor, Captain-General of the Philippines


Your Excellency - A report having been laid before Her Majesty the Queen, whom God preserve, of the plan under consideration, relating to the regulations for correspondence within the interior of these Islands, Her Majesty has been pleased to authorise Your Excellency to arrange a scheme, after consultation with the Superintendent, upon the following basis:-


1. There shall be established a reduced rate of postage for letters circulating within the said Islands.


2. Pre-payment of postage shall be compulsory.  For this purpose, Your Excellency should make requisition for the number of stamps considered necessary indicating the prices at which they are to be sold, in order that these may be impressed upon them. Your Excellency being, in the mean time, authorised to arrange the best means of carrying out the pre-payment of the postage.


3. The service for the conveyance of correspondence will be arranged in such a manner as to cause as little change as possible in the system in force at present; laying this duty upon the heads of the provinces, and granting them a commission of so much percent, fixed by Your Excellency, in agreement with the Superintendent.


4. And finally, a certain commission shall be granted, as fixed by Your Excellency, again in agreement with the Superintendent, to the persons who have to carry out the transport of the mails, so as to be able to compensate, to some extent, those who are engaged in this service.


By Royal Order  -  Madrid, January 12, 1853

The Royal Decree of January 12, 1853 was promulgated in Manila by Governor-General Antonio Urbiztondo y Eguia on December 7 of that same year in the circular "Circulares e Instrucciones Para el Arreglo del Poste de la Correspondencia de Estas Islas". The Decree outlines the Governor-General’s steps for the manufacture and sale of stamps for domestic use in the Philippines.

Superior Government - General Seat of the Philippine Islands 


In compliance with the directions given by Her Majesty, in the Royal Decree of January 12th last, for the purpose of carrying out the scheme proposed, and in accordance with the advice of the Assessor General of the Government, I have decreed as follows:


1. From the first day of February next year there will be established a charge for postage and regulations for the conveyance of correspondence within these Islands, for which object the arrangements and instructions will be adhered to, that have already been prescribed by the General Post Office Department of this Capital.


2. In the provinces, the respective chief officers will be charged with the distribution of the stamps, for which purpose they will receive through their agents in this capital, from the Post Office Department, the number of stamps considered necessary for their province.  As soon as the agents have received the stamps, the heads of provinces will become responsible for their nominal value, and only in case of unpreventable and fully explained loss or destruction will they be relieved of that responsibility


3. In view of the special circumstances of the province of Tondo, and with consent of the Superintendent, the Administrador de Estancadas (Revenue Department) in that province will be charged with the sale of stamps there.


4. There is granted, with the approval of the Superintendent, to the Heads of provinces, and the Director of the Revenue Department of Tondo, a commission of ten percent of the value of the stamps sold by them, as remuneration for the expenses caused by this service, and for the labour and responsibility involved.


5. The Mayors, the Governors, and the Director referred to above, will communicate direct with the Post Office Department upon all matters relating to the service, and will render accounts thereto, at the end of each year, of the stamps on charge, with a receipt for the amount of stamps sold.


6. For the present, on account of the additional work caused by this service to the heads of provinces, they will not be required to furnish securities; but the Director of Revenue of Tondo, being in a different position, will be required to do so, and the amount will be fixed by the Post Office Department in accordance with the extent of the service.


7. Official correspondence will be conveyed free, and the covers will bear an impression of a handstamp in black, with or without the Arms, indicating from what official and from what province the packet emanates.


8. The official correspondence of the following officials will be mailed by using their respective stamps: the Superior Government and the General Seat of the Philippine Islands; their Excellencies Archbishops and Bishops; the Regent and Fiscal of the "Real Audiencia"; the General "Intendente" and Superintendent of Royal Finance; the Accounts of the Army and Finance and of the "Tribunal Mayor de Cuentas"; the general Administrators of "Rentas Estancadas y Tributos"; the Administrators of Sub-delegates in the Provinces; the general Commander of the Navy; the "Ministro Interventor del Apostadero"; the Sub-inspectors of all Arms; the General Commander of the "Resguardo"; the Commander of the Public Security; Army Health Consultant; the Mayor of the provinces, Governors, Lieutenant Governors and the District Commanders; the General Administration of Posts.


9. The superior chiefs of the dependencies will see to it that the proper authorities, officials and chiefs are furnished as son as possible with a supply of the above mentioned stamps as may be needed.


10. When the employees and army officers not included in the franchisement, but are eventually engaged in the service, will have to write on the back of the sheet of paper addressed to the authorities concerned the nature of their work and the Province where they are stationed with their signatures at the bottom.


11. In case any Chief of a province is not provided with his corresponding stamps by the 1st of February of this coming year, his official correspondence may be treated in the same manner as those designated for the employees undertaking eventual work.


12. For the transmission by post of legal papers of various kinds, reference should be made to the general regulations of the service, Articles 6, 7, and 8 of Title 19. Consequently, these packets should be prepaid at the charge of those concerned, except in the case of official processes or actions between persons known to be poor; in such case, the circumstances must be certified on the cover of the packet by the Clerk of Court with the approval of the Judge.


Let this order be known to all those concerned by means of printed copies of the above mentioned rules and regulations which will also be served upon all authorities and corporations and later published in the Official Bulletin giving information to the Government of Her Majesty with the testimony of this decree.


Manila, December 7, 1853. Signed: Urbiztondo

The preliminary instructions for the establishment of the postal charges and prepayment of postage on correspondence within the Philippines, issued on December 7, 1853, indicated that compulsory pre-payment of postage was to be established from February 1, 1854.

Preventive Rules for the establishment of postal rates and prepaid postage on mail-matters within the Islands.


Superior Government - General Seat of the Philippine Islands


Article 1. Let there be established beginning February 1, 1854, compulsory prepayment of postage upon all correspondence circulating within the Islands, whether addressed from one province to another or between towns in the same province.  The rate of postage will be uniform in all places.


Article 2. From the said date, no letter will be transmitted which has not been previously pre-paid by means of a stamp or corresponding postmark with the rate required.


Article 3. For all the operations of the Post Office, letters will be separated into single and double.  A letter will be reckoned as single which does not reach half ounce in weight.  All others will be reckoned as double.


Article 4. Both single and double letters may be dispatched in two ways - Prepaid or Prepaid and registered.


Article 5. Letters will be prepaid, if single, at the rate of five cuartos, and if double at the following rates: those that weigh eight adarmes (half-an-ounce) inclusive, but not exceeding one ounce, ten cuartos; those that exceed one ounce, one real fuerte; and so on, the rate increasing by ten cuartos for each amount exceeding half an ounce.


Article 6. Registered letters must also be prepaid, and in addition to the required rate of postage, they will be charged two reales each for registration, irrespective of their weight.


Article 7. Letters circulating within the limits of each Administration or province will be charged the same rate as that fixed by the general tariff.


Article 8. Newspapers and other periodical publications will be charged by weight, at the rate of two pesos (16-reales) an arroba (per 25 pounds), provided that they conform to the following four conditions:

1.      They must be delivered to the Post Office direct from the publishers.

2.      That they be sealed with wrappers.

3.      The wrapper must bear the name of the newspaper or periodical.

4.      They must contain neither letters nor anything else in manuscript besides the name and address of the subscriber.


Article 9. Printed matter of all other kinds, with the exception of books (including those that may be published in parts periodically), will be charged also by weight, at the rate of nine pesos an arroba, provided that they conform to the following four conditions:

1.      They must be delivered to the Administration of Posts by their producers, publishers, or proprietors.

2.      That they be sealed with wrappers.

3.      On the wrapper must be printed the name of the producer, publisher or proprietor.

4.      They must contain neither letters nor anything else in manuscript except the name of the addressee and his address.


Article 10. Newspapers and other periodical publications, with the exception of books, when delivered in wrappers and containing neither letters nor anything else in manuscript but the name and address of the addressee, will be charged five cuartos each, if they do not exceed one ounce in weight, ten cuartos up to two ounces, and so on, increasing by five cuartos for each excess of weight over one ounce.


Article 11. The same rate of postage will be charged for samples of merchandise, of no value, enclosed in wrappers such as to allow of its being ascertained that they do not contain any manuscript note, other than invoices and marks.


Article 12. Books, periodical publications, printed matter and samples of merchandise, which are not included under Articles 8, 9, 10 and 11, will be charged at the same rate as letters.


Article 13. Like the printed matter treated in Article 9, as well as books, only weight in arrobas is permitted and means of common and ordinary transporting is allowed after giving preference to correspondence and newsprints.


Article 14. The pre-payment of postage and registration fee of letters, and also the pre-payment of postage on newspapers and printed matter posted separately, and not by their publishers, must be indicated by means of stamps in accordance with the regulations relative thereto.


Article 15. The pre-payment of newspapers and other printed matter, delivered at the Post Office by the publishers, will be verified at the Administration by means of the stamp designated for that purpose.


Article 16. No person will be obliged to accept letters that may be addressed to him, other than those which he may select before opening them.


Article 17. Any person, corporation, business house or establishment will be permitted to impress upon the outside of letters a rubber stamp indicating by whom they are dispatched.  Letters thus marked, which for any reason cannot be distributed, will be returned to the person named in the rubber stamp.


Article 18. Closed (or sealed) letters transmitted from one place to another, although not sent by the post, must nevertheless have affixed to them the stamps corresponding with the postal rate; otherwise they will be regarded as contraband, and will render the carriers liable to the penalties laid down in Article 20 of the General Decree for the Postal Service.


Instruction for the postage and registry of letters and for the postage of periodicals, books and other printed matter, and of samples of cloth in the domestic mails of these Islands.


Beginning February 1, 1854, pre-paid postage will be compulsory on all correspondence which circulates within the Archipelago whether sent from one province to another or between towns of the same.


That, beginning the said date, any person desiring to send a letter as well as to register it should indispensably use stamps which are sold one by one or any number that the buyer may so desire at the stations of every town designated by the Chief of the province, except in the Capital and its suburbs where sales will be in the 'tercena' and 'estanquillos' (general stores).


The stamps are made of paper; the bust of Her Majesty the Queen is printed on them and at the back they have gum to stick them with by dampening.


Mailing of Letters


One desiring to mail a letter needs only to affix on the envelope one or more stamps according to its weight and drop it in a mail box. If the letter is less than an ounce in weight a stamp of 5-cuartos is affixed; from half an ounce to less than one ounce, a stamp of 10-cuartos or two stamps of 5-cuartos each are affixed; from an ounce to less than an ounce and a half, a stamp of 1-real or two stamps of 10-cuartos each are affixed; if it is more than an ounce and a half, a stamp of 1-real and another of 10-cuartos or its equivalent are affixed, and so on, increasing 10-cuartos for every half an ounce in excess.


For letters mailed in this way, the addressee need not pay anything but if the sender fails to affix the necessary stamps on the envelope according to its weight the addressee will have to pay for the shortage and failing to do so, the letter is filed in the office. 


No refund of any kind will be made of excess postage nor complaint entertained for the recovery thereof if more stamps than necessary were affixed on the letter.


In the general Administration of the Post Office, there will be an employee to take charge of informing the public as to the weight of the letter and the corresponding stamps to be affixed, which will be supplied in the same office.


As soon as a letter is received, the General Administration of the Post Office will see to it that the stamp or stamps affixed thereon are invalidated by having the same cancelled with a stamp canceller.


The Administration will not transmit in the mails a letter having a used stamp already affixed on it.


Postage on Periodicals, Books and Other Printed Matter and Samples of Merchandise


The dailies and other newspaper as well as other printed matter of any kind except books, meeting all the requirements prescribed in Articles 8 and 9 may be mailed in the Administration by affixing stamps designated for the purpose, when presented by the editors' offices or by the firms, editors or proprietors.


For mailing periodicals, dailies and other printed matter not included in the previous ruling and for mailing books and samples of merchandise, the same rules will be followed as those for affixing stamps.


Registered Letters


One desiring to register a letter must affix the corresponding stamps for mailing besides paying two reales as registry fee, not withstanding its weight, and instead of depositing in the mail box as in the case of ordinary mails it is presented to the Administration of the Post Office for the issuance of a receipt. The Administration will not accept any letter unless it has all the stamps corresponding to its weight.


For example: To register an ordinary letter, it s necessary to affix one stamp of 5-cuartos for postage and another one of 2-Reales for registration. Affixing only one of these two stamps is not acceptable.


The stamps on registered mails will be cancelled in the same manner as those on ordinary mails. The receiver of a registered letter needs only to return the envelope with the signature of the addressee.


Rubber Stamps


Any person, corporation, business house, or establishment has the right to stamp on the envelope of the letters a rubber stamp indicating the name of the sender. This rubber stamp should be placed on the reverse side of the letter above the sticker or else on the sealed wax.


No change is for the present contemplated in the mailing of correspondence for the Peninsula via the Cape, as well as via the Isthmus which will continue as of the present. The same is true in the case of correspondence for foreign countries.


Sample indicating where to affix stamps for pre-paid and registered letters:


Pre-paid letter weighing less than half-an-ounce



Pre-paid letter weighing more than one ounce but less than one-and-a-half ounces



Pre-paid and Registered letter weighing less than half-an-ounce



Pre-paid and Registered letter weighing more than one ounce but less than one-and-a-half ounces





To avoid confusion each denomination of stamps will have its distinct colour.


One should take care in dampening the gum so that the stamp may not be removed.


When there is not enough space for all the necessary stamps on the upper part of the envelope, they may be affixed on any part of the envelope.


In mailing heavy sheets it is advisable to affix stamps of 2-reales to avoid unnecessary use of too many stamps.


The public is informed that a simple letter weighing less than half an ounce may be included in the sheets of paper which are classified in the following:

Spanish paper of regular thickness, 14 inches long by 9½ inches wide, a sheet and a half.

English letter papers of 11½ inches long by 9 inches wide, two sheets.

Chinese papers of 14 inches long by 9 inches wide, two and one fourth sheets.


In compliance with Her Majesty's instructions as contained in the Royal Order of January 12, 1853, all the preceding rules and regulations governing the issuance of stamps will be enforced with the understanding that in the provinces, the mayors and governors will take charge of the issuance of stamps for the prepayment of postage on mail matters and that in Tondo, the "Administracion de Estancadas del Casco" will do so through the stations and booths situated in the Capital and its suburbs.


Manila, December 7, 1853. Signed – Antonio de Urbiztondo

A Royal Decree was issued in Spain on March 16, 1854 stipulating the provisions for establishing rules for prepayment on official correspondence. A subsequent Royal Decree was issued in Madrid on June 22, 1855, to the Governors and Captain Generals of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, extending to the overseas territories the application of the Royal Decree of March 16, 1854.

Ministry of the Interior


In view of the considerations presented to me by the Minister of the Interior regarding the need to modify the system of postage and payment of official correspondence, and in accordance with the opinion of my Council of Ministers, I hereby decree the following:


Article 1. As from 1 July, official correspondence shall be prepaid by means of stamps.


Article 2. For prepayment of the said correspondence, there shall be as many classes of stamps as necessary, which shall be different in form and colour from stamps that are used for private letters.


Article 3. The stamps shall express, not the price, but the maximum weight to which each one shall apply.


Article 4. For correspondence to be considered official and to circulate post-free with the above-mentioned stamps, it is required:


First. That it be delivered by hand to branches of the Post Office.


Second. That letters or parcels be addressed by an authority or office of the Government to another authority or office.


Third. That the envelopes be addressed to the official position, and not to the name of the person who occupies the position.


Article 5. The origin of a letter or parcel shall be proven by stamping on the envelope the seal that the authority or office addressing the letter or parcel is required to use; otherwise, the letter or parcel shall be considered private, regardless of the circumstances.


Article 6. Any correspondence that is officially addressed to a private individual by an authority or office shall not be transmitted, notwithstanding the fact that the envelopes contain the seal of the office or authority from which the correspondence originates and the official prepayment stamp.


Article 7. Official correspondence for Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Philippines shall be prepaid by means of stamps in the same manner and form and subject to the requirements applicable to correspondence for the Peninsula; and correspondence originating from the said islands shall be delivered port-free to the authorities and offices of the Government in the Peninsula, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, provided that in both cases, the correspondence satisfies the conditions established in the present Decree.


Article 8. Official correspondence originating overseas shall continue to be paid in cash in such manner as may be determined by the Ministries under whose jurisdiction the offices receiving the letters or parcels fall.


Article 9. Official case documents and pleadings of paupers shall circulate as in the past, provided they satisfy the conditions that are established in Articles 14 and 15 of the Royal Decree of 3 December 1845. For purposes of reimbursement, when judgment is entered for costs and there exist assets against which the costs can be charged, the appropriate measures shall be decided upon in consultation with the Ministry of Pontifical Grants and Justice.


Article 10. Each Ministry shall receive such number of stamps as it may require, after the official correspondence that has circulated among its offices in the last year has been calculated.


Article 11. For purposes of distribution of the stamps indicated in the previous paragraph, the authorities, guilds, and offices that receive remuneration shall be considered as having the right to receive and send official correspondence post-free. Details are provided in the attached report.


Article 12. Letters and parcels originating from an authority and sent to offices that do not have the right to receive remuneration shall be prepaid by means of official stamps. However, the latter offices shall prepay using special stamps on the official correspondence that they address to State authorities or offices.


Article 13. Provincial Governors, and where appropriate other employees, shall prevent by all means within their powers  official correspondence, regardless of its importance, from being sent by means of ordinary stagecoaches or muleteers or other such  means. However, they shall take measures to ensure that the voluminous accounts and files that municipal and provincial councils are required to submit shall be paid for in the most economical manner.


Article 14. Post Office Directors are under a duty to hold letters or parcels that they consider fraudulent and to submit them accompanied by the corresponding complaint to the authority or the superior of the office or civil servant who uses letters or parcels in order to transmit private correspondence.


Article 15. An employee who uses in his/her private correspondence stamps intended for prepayment of official correspondence or allows others to use the said stamps for the same purpose, shall be dismissed, without prejudice to any other actions that may be taken, based on the gravity of the misconduct.


Article 16. The Ministry of the Interior shall take appropriate measures to ensure that the instructions necessary to facilitate compliance with the present Decree are drawn up.


Done at the Palace and initialled by Her Majesty. Madrid, March 16, 1854. The Ministry of the Interior, Luis José Sartorius.


At the beginning of 1854, Don Antonio Gutierrez y Pavia was appointed Governor-General of the Posts and it was on his authority that the stamps were issued in February 1854. A Royal Decree dated March 31, 1854 was sent from Spain approving the preliminary instructions for the establishment of the postal charges and prepayment of postage on correspondence within the Philippine Islands.


To the Governor, Captain-General of the Philippines


Your Excellency, - The scheme forwarded by Your Excellency in your letter, No 381, for the purpose of establishing the new regulations for correspondence within the interior of these Islands, having been submitted to the Queen (whom God preserve).  Her Majesty has thought fit to approve in all its details the work of Your Excellency relating to this subject, and desires that, after the expiration of a year of trial, the Government of the Colony should report upon the result and upon any improvements which experience may show that it is necessary to introduce in order to render as perfect as possible the service for the correspondence referred to above.


By Royal Command - Madrid, March 31, 1854


A Royal Decree from Spain was issued on June 1, 1854, advising that the printing and distribution of postage stamps be the responsibility of the Bureau of Revenues from State Monopolies.


To the Superintendent of the Philippines


Your Excellency: In view of Your Excellency’s letter, No. 276 of March 21, the Queen (whom God preserve) has seen fit to approve the decision made by the Superintendent, entrusting to the Bureau of Revenues from the State Monopolies of the Philippine Islands the printing and sale of postage stamps for domestic correspondence in the Philippines. Her Majesty applauds Your Excellency’s idea of centralising as far as possible the collection of revenues and taxes in the offices of the Ministry of Finance, and hopes that you will continue to exert yourself to this end. You should always be guided by the principles of simplification of accounts and stamping out of the abuses that go unchecked in connection with this matter in the Administration of these important provinces.


By Royal Command - Madrid, June 1, 1854


A Royal Decree from Spain was issued on September 1, 1854, modifying postal rates and setting the price of postage charges for domestic correspondence in Spain as well as rates for the Antilles and the Philippines. The new stamps for Spain shall be on sale from November 1, 1854; in the Antilles, from January 1, 1855, and in the Philippines, from April 1, 1855.


To the Ministry of the Interior, Francisco Santa Cruz


In accordance with the considerations presented by the Ministry of the Interior, and with the agreement of the Council of Ministers, I hereby decree the following:


Article 1. Postage for prepaid letters that are part of public correspondence of the Kingdom shall be half the amount required for letters that are not prepaid.


Article 2. The unit of weight for postage shall be half an ounce. For each additional unit, a stamp for the corresponding class shall be added as postage. Another single postage shall be paid for letters that are not prepaid. When the weight exceeds half an ounce but does not reach one ounce, two stamps shall be required; when the weight exceeds one ounce but does not reach one and a half ounces, three stamps shall be required; and so on.


Article 3. Postage stamps shall be sold at the following rates (for Spain): two cuartos for stamps in population centers; four cuartos for stamps for correspondence for all towns in the Peninsula and adjacent islands; eight cuartos for double letters in the Peninsula; one real for single letters for Cuba and Puerto Rico; and two reales for stamps for registered letters and correspondence with the overseas provinces.


Single letters for the island of Cuba and Puerto Rico shall pay postage of one real, and those for the Philippine Islands, two reales.


Prepayment may be carried out in government agencies overseas and in the Peninsula. For this purpose, stamps shall be sent to those agencies. For correspondence whose postage costs four, six or eight reales, the corresponding number of stamps at two reales each shall be applied.


Article 5. Postage for registered letters shall be prepaid. A two-reales stamp must be affixed to registered letters for the Peninsula and adjacent islands; two stamps of the same class to registered letters for Cuba and Puerto Rico; and four stamps for letters for the Philippine Islands.


Article 6. Correspondence of the overseas Spanish provinces and with foreign countries with which no special treaty has been concluded and which is transported in a merchant vessel or foreign vessel, shall pay additional postage of one real for each letter, for the Captain of the vessel.


Article 9. From the date of entry into force of these rates, the additional postage of six maravedis (copper coin) for each letter, collection of which was ordered by the Royal Decree of September 29, 1848 in the four provinces of Catalonia, shall no longer be applied.


Article 10. In the Canary Islands, postage of three cuartos for the interior of the islands shall continue to apply. Letters may continue to be prepaid using the two-cuartos stamps required for the use within population centers.


Article 12. In Madrid, the cuarto known as the postman’s cuarto shall no longer be paid for domestic correspondence. This service shall be performed among all postmen, who shall continue to receive the same salaries as in the past. In letters from outside Madrid and in other agencies and post office branches of the Kingdom, the postman’s cuarto shall continue to be paid.


Article 13. The provisions of this decree shall enter into force in the Peninsula and adjacent islands on November 1, 1854, in the Antilles, on January 1, 1855; and in the Philippine Islands, on April 1, 1855.


By those dates, the new stamps shall be on sale in the present authorised shops and in the tobacconist’s or in shops selling tobacco or salt, and in all other places where the Governors may deem it appropriate to establish such shops.


By Royal Command and initialed by her Majesty – Madrid, September 1, 1854


A Circular was issued on September 27, 1854 establishing the rules for purposes of implementation of the Royal Decree of September 1, 1854, which introduces reforms in the postal rates, and announcing to the public through the Official Bulletin that the new postage stamps shall be available from November 1st.


The General Post Office


By Royal Decree of the 1st of the present month, of which I send to you copies for distribution, five classes of stamps for prepayment and registration of private mail, which must be used from 1 November, were established.


These classes are as follows: two-cuartos stamps within population centers and in the Canary Islands; four-cuartos stamps for single letters within the Kingdom and adjacent islands; eight-cuartos stamps for double weight letters in the same locations; one-real stamps for single weight letters for Cuba and Puerto Rico; two-reales stamps for double weight letters for Cuba and Puerto Rico, single letters for the Philippines, and for registered letters in the Kingdom, adjacent islands, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and foreign countries.


In order to facilitate the correct and proper exchange of stamps that may still be in the possession of private individuals on October 31, as well as submission of accounts by the Principal Administration of Collections of the provinces or the officials who perform their functions, I deem it appropriate to communicate to you the following instructions:


1. The Principal Administration of Collections of the Province shall reflect the new stamps received from the Factory in the Administration’s Accounts for November.


2. The Principal Administration of Collections of the Province shall also ensure that stamps of all the classes are issued sufficiently in advance of the first day of the said month to all the authorised shops of the capital and to the Administrators of the Bureau of Revenue from State Monopolies, to enable the latter to carry out verification with authorised sellers on their respective districts, as well as with the places where salt is sold, provided that pledge is owed them with the necessary guarantees.


3. The Principal Administration of Collections shall also deliver to the authorised shops of the capital and to the Administrators of the Bureau of Revenue from the State Monopolies of the districts the rates indicated here, which all authorized shops should display publicly, in compliance with the Royal Decree of the 1st of the present month.


4. Through the Official Bulletin of the province, and by all means deemed appropriate the public shall be informed:


1. That the new postage stamps shall be available on November 1 in the same terms and conditions as in the past, in the previous locations as well as in the new locations designed by the Royal Decree of September 1, 1854t;


2. Whenever no eight-cuartos stamps are available, the four cuarto-stamps shall be used;


3. In order to expedite for the public the exchange of stamps that may be in the possession of individuals and that show no signs of having been used, the stamps shall be exchanged for new stamps, at the rate of one two-cuartos stamp for two one-cuarto stamps that are presented; three four-cuartos stamps for every two six-cuartos stamps; and three two-reales stamps for each six-reales stamp;


4. If any five-reales stamps that were used for domestic registered mail until June 30, at which time they were replaced by the two-reales stamps, remain in the possession of individuals, they shall be exchanged at the rate of five two-reales stamps for every two five-reales stamps.


The exchange shall be carried out solely from November 1 to November 15, both dates being inclusive, in the district capitals. In the Capital it shall be undertaken in the authorised shops that the Governor shall designate.


5. The Governor shall also issue the appropriate instructions in order to prevent fraud in the exchange of stamps.


6. The authorised shops in the capital, when liquidating during the second week of November with the Principal Administration of Collections, and the authorised shops in the districts, when carrying out the same operation in the above-mentioned month with the Administrators of the Bureau of Revenues from State Monopolies, shall effect complete delivery to the said authorities of stamps that are in their possession at the end of October. The officials in charge of the exchange shall in turn deliver the stamps originating from the exchange with the appropriate marking.


7. The Administrators of the Bureau of Revenues from State Monopolies shall verify the liquidation with the Principal Administration of Collections at the end of the said month of November, at which time they shall immediately pay in cash any difference resulting from the liquidation. Stamps that are missing shall be considered as having been sold.


8. Since new stamps shall be used from January 1, 1855, in order to prevent such frequent returns to the National Stamp Factory (Fabrica National), the Principal Administration of Collections shall keep in their possession the stamps that have been exchanged or that are in excess.


9. Since time constraints prevent the provision of new copies of Administrative Accounts to the Principal Collectors, you shall ensure that the Collector of the Province continues to draw up the accounts using the existing copies. The said official must keep in mind the following instructions:


In that part of the account with the heading “Stamps issued in 1853 and in preceding years”, the heading shall be modified to read “Stamps issued in 1854 [from January] until October”, and the stamps received from the exchanges shall be entered in the blank column for the amount as “Received from exchange”.


In the part of the account that reads “Stamps issued in the year 1854,” the words “from November 1” shall be added. In this part, the new stamps received shall be entered; and stamps that are given in exchange shall be dated in the blank under the heading “Submitted for exchange”. In the last part of the account, the heading of the items shall be modified, in order to reflect the new prices of the stamps.


10. If there remain stamps issued in 1853 and in preceding years in a province, they shall be recorded on another, separate copy in the place that is marked out for them. The two accounts together shall constitute the account for the corresponding month.


11. If the Principal Administration of Collections does not possess a sufficient number of printed copies for the Administrative Accounts of stamps, the accounts shall be drawn up on official paper, which should reproduce exactly those forms, without any alterations.


The Directorate General trusts that you will enforce compliance with the above instructions with the appropriate zeal, and that to this end you will take the appropriate measures.


May God preserve you many years. Madrid, September 27, 1854. The Director-General, Angel Iznardi.


A Circular was issued on October 2, 1854 laying down instructions for purposes of compliance with the Royal Decree of September 1, 1854 on the reform of rates.


The General Post Office


To the Principal Administrator of the Post Office of ______


We have sent you _____ copies of the Royal Decree and rates of September 1st so that you may transmit them to the employees of the Post Office, and thus ensure exact compliance in your district from November 1st.


To this end I believe it appropriate to issue you the following instructions:


1. By virtue of the above-mentioned Royal Decree, the Royal Decree of March 16 of this year on compulsory prepayment of double letters has been annulled in its entirety.


2. Letters within population centers, i.e., letters that originate in one administrative unit for distribution in the same population center, if they are not prepaid, shall require postage in the same amount as letters of the Kingdom that are not post-free.


3. Prepaid letters that are submitted to government agencies in the Peninsula and adjacent islands without the sufficient number of stamps, shall be required to pay postage of eight cuartos for each four-cuartos stamp that is lacking, if they are for the Peninsula and adjacent islands; postage of two-reales for each one-real stamp that is lacking if they are for Cuba and Puerto Rico; and four-reales for each two-reales stamp that is lacking if they are for the Philippines.


4. Postage may be prepaid for letters within the Canary Islands by affixing a two-cuartos stamp for each three-cuartos required by the rates for the Islands.


5. All private correspondence that is not prepaid must leave with the mark of the postage corresponding to the offices from which it originates. This postage in cuartos shall be verified at the Post Office, at the rates referred to.


You shall acknowledge receipt of this circular and inform me of its transmission to the employees of your Post Office.


May God preserve you many years. Madrid, October 2, 1854. The Director-General, Angel Iznardi.


A Royal Decree issued on December 18, 1854 introduced reforms in the postage rates with respect to overseas corresponding, including that between the Philippines and Spain. Such use was made compulsory on June 1, 1855 (amending the date from April 1, 1855 as originally directed in the Royal Decree of September 1, 1854). The ordinary letter rate was 1-real; and for registered letters 2-reales. All official correspondence was free.


The Ministry of State


In accordance with the considerations presented by the Ministry of State responsible for Overseas Affairs, I hereby decree as follows:


Article 3. Prepayment and registration of letters, as well as prepayment for newspapers and printed matter will be done by the interested parties by means of stamps.


Article 4. Stamps for overseas provinces shall be sold at ½-real for the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico, and stamps for the Philippines at one-real.


Article 7. Prepayment shall be required for registered letters. In addition to the value of stamps corresponding to their prepayment, registered letters, regardless of weight, must bear a one-real stamp if intended for Cuba and Puerto Rico, and two one-real stamps for the Philippines.


Article 10. The rules established shall also be applicable to domestic correspondence of Cuba and Puerto Rico as well as to correspondence between the two islands, and between the two islands and the Peninsula.


Article 11. The price of stamps for each single letter shall be ½-real of good silver when the mail circulates within the Antilles or between the two islands.


Article 14. The provisions of the present Decree shall enter into force in the Antilles on March 1, 1855, and in the Philippine Islands on June 1, 1855.


By Royal Command and initialed by her Majesty. Madrid, December 18, 1854. The Minister of State, Claudio Antón de Luzuriaga.


On December 20, 1854, a Royal Order from Spain was sent to the Captain-Generals of Overseas Territories, attaching copies of Decrees with respect to the pre-payment of mail.


To the Governors, Captain-Generals of Overseas Territories


Your Excellency: Having established the pre-payment of carriage of mail by stamps in these islands, I send to Your Excellency by Royal Order the attached copies of those of March 16 and September 27 of this year, issued by the Government Ministry of the Interior, in order that they are applied as soon as possible in the territory under Your Excellency’s command, having to give account of the results for the corresponding resolution.

Madrid, December 20, 1854


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