1857 PSNCo

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The Pacific Stem Navigation Co. (PSNCo) was a shipping company founded in 1838 by the American businessman William Wheelwright (1798-1873).
The Company operated a line of ships for the transport of cargo and passengers on the west coast of South America, from Valparaíso (Chile) to Panama. They had agencies and offices in the main Chilean ports, Peruvians, Ecuadorians and Colombians.

William Wheelwright

Thanks to a contract with the Royal Mail of England, this company was responsible for transporting the mail generated from and to England in this region of the world. They also maintained agreements with local authorities, for the transport of postal effects between the ports served by their fleet of steamers.

Period Steamship

In 1847 Wheelwright decided to implement the use of postage stamps for the postage of letters received and transported by the Company. For this, he contacted his cousin Joshua Butters Bacon, who worked in London for the printing company Perkins, Bacon & Co.

He requested the design and printing of two stamps, in which appeared the steam boats Peru (1 real, blue) and Chile (2 reales, reddish brown).

For the firm Perkins, Bacon & Co. this commission represented the first contract for printing postage stamps received from abroad.
The two steel plates were engraved in London by Perkins, Bacon & Petch, and each contained 160 units in 10 rows of 16.
The stamps were dispatched to Callao, one shipment on November 17, 1847 and the other on January 15, 1848.
Altogether there were 628 sheets (100,480 stamps) of 1 real blue and 88 sheets (14,080 stamps) of 2 reales reddish chestnut.
The color that makes the paper blue seems to be due to the ink used that had Prussian blue, the same one that came to dye the white paper turning it bluish.

In October of 1857 the Government issued the Law that established in Peru the system of postage by means of adhesive stamps. On this occasion the Agent and Representative of the Company. Inglesa de Vapores del Callao, Mr. Jorge Petrie offered the stamps free of charge that were on deposit.
These were circulated in Callao, Lima and Chorrillos from December 1, 1857 until February 28, 1858.
Afterwards. on December 15, 1860, the unsold surplus of these 2 stamps were destroyed.

The Genuine Issues

1857 Sc 1 Blue

1857 Sc 2 Reddish Brown

A die proof  30x24mm on wove paper

Proof on card stock

Color proof

Forgeries of the 1 Real
These 2 stamps are considered to be some of the most forged first stamps of any country.
Any “old collection” is bound to have forgeries.
NOTE: some of these forgeries are not in the original colors. There were only 2 original colors but later, as we will discuss, some unused issues were printed in various colors. Forgers knew this and produced imitations of the colors possibly not being aware of their non use.

Above genuine pair from an auction
NOTE that many forgeries have guide lines around the stamps that are not in the original.

2 very crude samples from an unknown source.
These are not that common


These forgeries are some of the better ones.
The dot after the P is too close.
The dot after the N is too far.
All the dots are too small.
The top of the small 1 is tilted slightly upwards.
The base of the large 1 is too thin.
Very common forgery with a 4 ring postmark.

This appears to be a fairly rare forgery
It has many issues like;
The tall P and no dot
No dot under the small 1
A tiny ship
A very small fraction & Z
Unusual shape of the S & C


The above are very common Spiro forgeries
The base of the 1 in the fraction is slanted instead of being straight and the foot curve in the 2 is wrong.
The dots are too small and the dot besides the S are too far.
Very heavy lines in the ship and smoke.
The top serif of the small 1 is long and slightly slanted.
The curve of right foot of the R is wrong

The following are full Spiro sheets – click on the images for the full version

Forgeries of the 2 Reals
A key feature of almost all the forgeries is the ship facing the wrong direction.

A very crude forgery
The only correct feature is the ship facing East

Ship facing the wrong way
It has a tall P & N
Small dots after the S & C
No dot below the small S
The 2 is more inclined than the genuine
No dot after the Z

These forgeries are attributed to Chauncey.L.Young.
Overall fairly well done.
Ship faces the wrong way
The tail of the R is pointed
The small s has narrow openings
The serif of the 1 is curve


Three Spiro forgeries
Ship facing west
Dot far from the S
Different curve in the foot of the 2
Large foot on the 1
Small s is compressed

The following are full Spiro sheets – click on the images for the full version

This stamp was described as a possible proof since it is engraved.
However it has many issues like the tilted ship, unusual filigree in the outside oval, odd shaped small l & s and a closed C.
For now I would describe it as either an early trial attempt or a forgery

On June 29, 1863 again more stamps were requested primarily for collectors.
On July 6 of that year the following were sent:
– 5 sheets, 800 stamps of a 1 real pink color.
– 5 sheets, 800 stamps of a 1 real blue color.
– 5 sheets, 800 stamps of a 1 real green color.
– 5 sheets, 800 stamps of a 1 real chrome yellow color.
– 5 sheets, 800 stamps of two reals pink
– 5 sheets, 800 stamps of two reals green
– 5 sheets, 800 stamps of two reals chrome yellow
– 5 sheets, 800 stamps of two reals pink
– 5 sheets, 800 stamps of two reals blue.
A total of 7,200 stamps printed on thin white paper.

1a & 1d

2a & 2b

2C & 2d


Postmarks are generally found on forgeries as only a few genuinely used one exist.
The most common is the barred numeral 6  shown here as a genuine.

barred numeral 7

round city date

oval dot city

The following are seldom seen.
It is possible that they were some form of control or private internal payment of the company maybe in relation to luggage. They were probably issued in 1874 (currency change) and may only be related to the PSNCo  as curiosities