Ecuador and its Collectible Stamps

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Ecuador is far from the largest country in South America, but it’s easily one of the most diverse. Its small territory encompasses Pacific beaches, Andean highlands and Amazonian rainforests — as well as the Galapagos Islands, located nearly 1000 miles offshore. It’s also home to cosmopolitan cities like the capital Quito and tropical Guayaquil.

It's no surprise that the stamps of Ecuador routinely celebrate these and other features. In fact, the country has a long and rich postal history, with much to interest collectors.

Ecuador at a Glance

Ecuador has long been inhabited by the Inca and, before that, several other indigenous groups. Spanish colonizers took Quito in 1534, bringing with them diseases that decimated the region’s indigenous population. The new colony floundered for nearly 300 years until 1820, when Guayaquil became the first Ecuadorian city to declare independence. Others soon followed suit, and in 1822 the entire region joined with parts of modern-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Guyana and Brazil to form a unified territory known as Gran Colombia.

The Gran Colombia experiment came to an end in 1831, and Ecuador became an independent state. A period of instability followed, marked by a succession of leaders and territorial disputes with Peru. This remained the case throughout much of the 19th and 20th centuries, with social and political tensions rising, falling and rising again over time. Throughout the 1970s, a series of military juntas governed the country.

Though Ecuador today is a stable democracy, tensions persist. High levels of income inequality exist, government corruption is thought to be rampant, and oil refining by multinational corporations has led to considerable environmental degradation.

Ecuador’s Postal History

Ecuador has been issuing its own postage since 1865. These first Ecuadorian stamps used a simple design highlighting the country’s coat of arms. Later issues depicted the country’s political leaders as well as various national and patriotic themes.

Guayaquil, the country’s commercial center, has a long history of postal independence. From 1849 to 1880, a British office in the city used that country’s stamps. Between 1872 and 1874, a local French office was known to exist as well. Later, Guayaquil issued its own provisional series which today rank among the rarer Ecuador stamps.

Stamps of Note

Some of the more unique Ecuadorian stamps that can be found today include the “fire control overprint” series of 1902. Following a major fire, stamp theft and fraud were common. This led postal authorities to require a special overprint for mail sent in Guayaquil, Tulcan and several other regions. Other notable stamps include a 1928-1931 SCADA air mail series, and a set of issues in 1956 and 1957 showcasing the Galapagos Islands.

Collecting Ecuador’s Stamps

Looking to add to your collection of rare Ecuador stamps? Apfelbaum, Inc. can help. Browse our online store or contact our office directly for assistance.