1893 Columbus Issue

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In 1893, Puerto Rico printed a stamp to commemorate the 4th Centenary of the Discovery of the island by Christopher Columbus. The stamp was known as the “Barquito”  and represents the admiral disembarking on the island.
Locals made arrangements with Spain to authorize the designing  and printing on the island as stamps were normally printed in Spain.
It is the only Puerto Rican stamp designed and printed on the island and without a royal image. Commemoratives were very rare at this time period and only a few existed.
The design is based on a watercolor by D. Rafael Monleón and there is some controversy that the Santa Maria was not depicted properly and it may not even have existed when Columbus visited Puerto Rico having sunk in 1492.
The stamp was used, only for local mail, on Sunday, November 19, 1893. 20,000 copies were printed on 1,000 sheets of 20 stamps (4 rows of 5).
Although the rules apparently stated that only 2 stamps would be available per person with any remainders to be destroyed and only to be used for local mail, this was probably not adhered to. Blocks probably have favor cancels such as this one.

The above is a very large file with positions 1, 2, 6 and 7 on the sheet of 20

Genuine stamp and details

Genuine Position 15
1. The top letters are 1.9mm X 19mm, forgeries are larger
2. The horizon lines become progressively closer together
3. The square frame of the ornament is very close to the main frame. In forgeries it is sometimes farther away and more distinct
4. 8 lines to the top of the galleon
5. This figure has a medallion on his forehead
6. This figure has a buttoned shirt
7. The head of this figure is bounded by 3 lines
8. The hand touches the railing. In some forgeries it does not or is broken
9. The opening of the 3 is very narrow but much larger with most forgeries. Note the thickness of the 3 and the left 3 is slightly taller than the right one.
10. The perfs are 12, forgeries are 11.5
11. The mast is generally weak and very faint on some. The forgeries generally have a thick mast and one with none.
12. The corner is typically broken.
13. Note the shape of the rear windows, 2 half circles together.
14. The rudder is straight.
15. This figure appears to be looking down.
16. NOTE the shape and wing angle of the bird, it is generally wrong in the forgeries.

Genuine Position 6

Genuine Used

A color trial
These are not common and are found in Pink, Rose Carmine, Bright Red, Brown, Yellow, Orange, Deep Violet, Violet, Purple, Indigo, Pale Blue and Dark Slate.

It would appear that we can describe 5 forgeries although most articles note only 3.
Four of them are fairly obvious and one I would consider as dangerous.
The “Types” are my designation and do not correspond to any other catalogs.

NOTE – If you do come across a forgery, don’t consider it as of no value. The forgeries list for about 25% of the genuine and used ones with genuine cancels sell for the same as used originals.

Type I Forgery

This is a very common forgery
1. Dot is larger than in the genuine.
2. The square frame of the ornament is farther away from the main frame.
3. Mast is very distinct.
4. Lines are not as progressively closer as with the genuine.
5. Only 7 lines are visible.
6. The windows are in the shape of a figure 8.
7. The 3 is very thin.
8. The rudder is curved
9. The waterline forms a distinct curve.
10. The head is completely filled in.
11. The head of this figure is leaning back.
12. Only 2 lines bound the head.
13. Figure is looking straight ahead.
14. Hand appears cut off.
15. Corner does not have a prominent break.
16. Perf is 11.5.
17. Opening is much wider than the genuine.
Bird is very different and only partial.

Above 2 more Type I forgeries
The used one has a fake cancel. You can see by the position of the Z and the diagonal line that it does not match the real MAYAGEZ postmarks shown later.

Closeup of genuine vs. forgery

Type II Forgery

This is the most dangerous forgery and I have seen this one in better caliber auctions.
1. There are more breaks in the horizon lines.
2. No medallion on forehead but samples seen have a dark spot on the left side of the face.
3. The tops of the hills are heavily outlined.
4. Figure has a dark band across the face.
5. Added lines and features.
6. On samples found, the 1 and 9 are close and touching
7. Objects look like houses on the shore.
8. The front of the boat is slightly curved.
Samples found tend to have a lighter colour.

Another Type II Forgery

Type III Forgery

This forgery is not common and I only found 1 example
1. Corner elements are poorly drawn.
2. The windows are indistinct.
3. Frame line touches inner frame all corner lines tend to be thick.
4. The landscape is heavily shaded.
5. The 1 has a blunt top and tapered bottom.
6. The letters are not well copied especially all the E’s that are lacking middle bar serifs.
The bird is misshapen.

Forgery Type 4

Overall many errors and quite crude. This is the only example found.
1. Corner element leaves are much wider than the original.
2. No corner breaks.
3. Background has many breaks.
4. Missing mast?
5. Single window instead of 2
6. The 3 is slightly inclined.
7. Outer frames touch inner one and the lines are thick and distinct.
8. Tall S. Other letters are uneven in height.
9. 3 is very open.
10. No arms.
11. Head shaped very different than original.
12. Rudder handle not distinct.
Bird has bent wings

Type V Forgery

This one requires little explanation
I did not come across any mention of imperfs.
The letters are very thick and the wrong font.
The boat has a very wide railing
The corner elements are multi leaved.
The widows and shape of the boat are very wrong.
The horizon lines are all the same distance apart
The bird is different.

I do not have clear information on this topic.
There is mention of an apparent reprint perhaps for private purposes.
The following are said to be reprints but I cannot confirm this.

It is not uncommon to find forgeries with postmarks.
The following are the genuine cancels.











1. Estudio del sello conmemorativo del cuarto centenario del descubrimiento de Puerto Rico, 1493-1893 – Dávila, Ovidio.
2. Billig’s Handbook #6