First Issues

page 6.2b

Small Stamps


According to Mackay [1, p.109], the Colombian province of Bolivar can claim the smallest stamp and so the smallest first issue (the book was published in 1982, but it is unlikely that there has been a smaller first issue since).

Colombia 1945 SG Sc-RA19
Bolivar first set Colombia
[1863] SG3 Sc3 Obligatory tax
1945 SG Sc-RA19 and
1949 SG Sc-RA41

There have been other small first issues and so it is worth recycling Mackay's article, including the small non-first issues.

Bolivar's 1863 #1-3 set measured 8x9.5mm. Mackay also mentions Colombia's obligatory tax stamps of the 1940s and 50s at 15x10mm.

Brunswick SG12 SC12a
Mecklenburg-Schwerin #1 Brunswick Spain
1856 SG1 Sc1a 1857 SG12 Sc12a 1872 SG185 Sc174

Mecklenburg-Schwerin held the title of smallest first issue for the previous eight years with a 24x24mm stamp which could be divided into four 12x12 stamps. The same idea was used by Brunswick in 1857 but not for its first issue. Spain issued quartered stamps to three similar designs over 1872-76.

Ardath #44

I suppose it is logical that dividable stamps should be amongst the smallest and it is no surprise to see these threee issues featured on an Ardath cigarette card.

GB introduced the notion of a 'half-sized format' for a half-penny stamp with the 17.5x14mm 1870 bantam (the penny stamp shown for size comparison, both stamps with my initials). Cyprus used GB overprints for its first stamps, including a bantam for its #1. The half-size notion was copied by Victoria in 1874 and South Australia in 1883. The term 'bantams' is also applied to a long set of language-differentiated South African pairs reduced in size as a wartime economy measure (both sizes shown), a practice that continued until 1948.

GB SG43 GB SG48 Cyprus SG7 Sc1 South Australia SG182 Sc76 South Africa SG Sc81 South Africa 1942 SG43 Sc90
GB Penny Red GB half-sized 'bantam' Cyprus #1 Victoria South Australia South Africa South Africa
1858 SG43 Sc 1870 SG48 Sc 1880 SG7 Sc1 1874 SG176 Sc130 1883 SG182 Sc76 1941 SG Sc81 1942 SG43 Sc90

Mackay finishes with a couple of small US stamps from 1978 and 1980.

USA 1978 SG Sc1734 USA 1980 SG Sc1822
Indian Head Penny
1978 SG Sc1734
Dolley Madison
1980 SG Sc1822

page started August 2013