Monday, January 23, 2006

Brazil: cheap postally used to look for

In several of my previous notes I've remarked on high-priced stamps that are hard to find. But many low priced stamps of Brazil are hard to find "Very Fine" or better, without defects, *postally used*. These tend to be absent from most collectors' colections of Brazil; finding them can take persistence, but persistence is rewarded by nice stamps that cost little. So I'll mention some in this note: some supposedly very common stamps (cataloging less than $1.00 in Scott's 2006 edition), and one cataloging somewhat more. (Scott 2006 catalog values for stamps specifically mentioned are in parens after the Scott catalog number). Scott's prices are, of course, for stamps of grade VF; some of the stamps mentioned below are easy to find in lower grades or with defects, but the fun of the chase is to find really nice VF postaly used copies without defects, that dress up one's collection.

A few definitives to start with. Scott 284 (70 cents) is quite hard to find a really nice copy of; such a copy ordered at retail from Brazil might cost up to $10.00. Copies of Scott 286 (35 cents) that are off center, faded or poorly printed are common, but really nice crisply printed well-centered copies are scarce. The great majority of the definitives of the 1941-1953 "Netinha" designs were poorly perforated, so in addition to the ones given a higher price by Scott, it's worth being alert for well-centered, cleanly perforated, postally used copies of Scott 512 (20 cents), which was little used, Scott 552 (45 cents), 570 (55 cents), 579 (30 cents) and 656 (which was little used). Moving on, Scott 786 (20 cents) is a sleeper; exceedingly comon mint, its denomination was low enough so it got little use and most used copies were discarded; if you find a really nice postally used copy, hang onto it. Scott 992A (40 cents) was only current for a short time and got little use; the $100 catalog value for a mint copy reflects this, but nice postally used copies are quite scarce. It's surprisingly hard to find a VF copy of Scott 1259 (20 cents) postally used without defects; most of them got battered in the mails. Scott 1672 (50 cents) and Scott 1679 (20 cents) are the key values of that long set of definitives; both are really scarce postaly used. And Scott 1989 (20 cents) is another sleeper; it got used quite a bit, but almost always on "throwaway" mail or on packages, so postally used copies are much scarcer than mint copies.

Turning to commemoratives, centering of Scott 290-92 (set catalogs $1.50) and 312-314 (set catalogs 2.30) was almost uniformly terrible. So search for VF postally used copies of these; it will be a long search, but worth while. And the hardest to find of all Brazil's early commems VF without defects postally used is Scott 197 ($7.50). Brazil's mint had terrible problems perforating those, and although sharp-eyed collectors picked out some well-centered cleanly perforated copies from post office counter stocks, correspondingly nice postally used copies are truly scarce; I've only run across one in years of looking.

As a final general remark on this subject, very many of Brazil's commemoratives issued from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s are hard to find VF or better postally used. The paper on which these were printed was resistant to both perforation and separation; as a result, most postally used copies, looked at carefully, have damaged perfs, short perfs, pulled perfs, ragged perfs, scissors-cut perfs, or what have you. My rule of thumb is that for most of the commems of that interval of 15+ years, I have to examine anywhere from 5 to 20 postally used copies to find one in a grade I can be proud of. For exactly this reason, if one orders used copies of these from dealers, one is apt to receive favor-canceled copies, bought by dealers from the main philatelic bureau and carefully separated by the dealer after they were received in canceled sheets.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Brazil: definitive color changes in 1915

From 1906 through 1917 Brazil used definitives produced in the US by the American Bank Note Co. Scott catalog lists two color changes in these definitves in 1915, but in fact there were seven. Scott lists the change of the 200 reis from blue to ultramarine (catalog numbers 178 and 179) nd the change of the 2000 reis from yelow green to prussian blue (186 and 187). Scott also lists the 1000 reis of Type A64 (193 and 194) changing from deep green to slate, but incorrectly shows the date of that change as 1916. In fact, all of those changes, and four others, occured in 1915.

The other four, all quite distinctive, were the 20 reis, from violet to bright violet, the 50 reis, from dark green to green, the 500 reis, from slate violet to violet, and the 600 reis from olive to greenish olive. All seven of these stamps are common in both shades, and they make an interesting group.

The color changes occured because of the beginning of World War I. ABNCo had been using German ink for those denominations, but as German industry converted to war production, the German inks ABNCo had been using became unavailable, so ABNCo switched to inks made in the US. How much interaction there was with Brazil's postal authorities in deciding what color shades to change to I have no idea. However, the resulting new color shades reached Brazil in 1915 and were promptly placed into use.

Of course, as World War I progressed the US experienced increasing effects, and finally in 1917 entered the war. The increasing impact of this on ABNCo was presumably what led Brazil to produce its further new issues, except for Scott 198, in Rio at Casa da Moeda, in place of ordering from ABNCo. One can note similar changes toward domestic production of stamps in several other Latin American countries, and in some cases, such as Argentina, this was done only with considerable difficulty. Brazil had relatively few problems, the worst one being the difficulty of producing Scott 197, which I'll discuss in another note.

Brazil high-denomination officials of 1913

In the early years of the 20th Century several countries issued postage stamps of very high denominations; Rhodesia, British East Africa, and Brazil come to mind. What such countries shared was a lack of secure transportation methods other than the postal system for shipment of valuables.

It is not unusual to see covers mailed in those times by banks in Brazil plastered with large numbers of the 10,000 reis stamps that were the top denomination definitives of the time; these were most often registered international mail transmitting high-value material from Brazil to Great Britain. But in addition, in 1913 Brazil issued a set of official stamps with denominations up to 1,000,000 reis. At that time, 1,000,000 reis had roughly the purchasing power of US $200.00 then: the equivalent in today's purchasing power of perhaps US $4000.00. That's a lot of money for a postage stamp. So why were these extremely high denomination stamps issued?

The government itself used the postal system for mailing such things as currency and packages of revenue stamps from one city to another. And, until the use of official stamps was abolished at the beginning of 1920, such packages were franked with official stamps. Furthermore, when currency or other fungible valuables were mailed, postal regulations required the contents to be insured, at a postal fee of 2% of the value of the contents. So a 1,000,000 reis official stamp would pay the Correio's insurance fee for a package of 50,000,000 reis in currency, an extremely large amount, to be sure, but the sort of package that occasionally had to be sent by the treasury from Rio to, say, Sao Paulo or Recife. That was the only purpose of those very high denomination officials. 25,000 of each of the top 3 denominations (Scott # O27 to O29) were printed by the American Bank Note Company and introduced into use in Brazil in 1913, but by 1920, when the use of official stamps ceased, only slightly more than 5000 out of the 25,000 of each of these denominations had been distributed to or used by government agencies, and not returned to the central vaults when not needed. The other nearly 20,000 of each of these denominations were all surcharged as airmail stamps in 1927.

Not surprisingly, these high-denomination officials are scarce both unused and used.
Used copies are scarcer than unused copies, and a complete used set of this issue is hard to locate or assemble. But they're not as expensive as one might expect from their scarcity; like many back-of-the-book stamps from many countries, including the US, they get less collector interest than do regular postage stamps. A complete set really dresses up a collection of Brazil, and is well worth acquiring, if one can.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Brazil stamp booklets

Brazil has issued stamp booklets only sporadically, and Scott catalog listings do not identify them all in a clear and consistent way. The most interesting ones to me are the earlier ones, the 22 different booklets issued from 1908 through 1990, so I'll comment mostly on those in this note. Only the first three of these first 22 booklets have panes that can be identified when separated from the booklet; the other 19 were made up by hand from sheet margin blocks of ordinary stamps, and can be distinguished only as entire booklets. Booklet panes of the first three, issued in 1908, are listed by Scott as Brazil numbers 176a, 177b and 178a. Both the booklet panes and the intact booklets are scarce and seldom come on the market, because only 25,000 of each of these three booklets was produced. However, a complete set of these three booklets was sold on eBay on Dec. 26, 2005; not surprisingly, the three wound up being sold for a healthy price of slightly more than US$600.00

The 4th and 5th booklets were issued in 1928; one of them is noted in the most recent editions of Scott catalog in a footnote after Brazil number 257, made up of one pane each from Scott Brazil numbers 241, 243, 247, 249 and 251; the other is very similar, but includes a pane of 278 instead of 247. These booklets are very scarce in any condition, and copies that have survived without getting battered or acquiring tropical staining are rare. I can only speculate about what the market price of these would be, but I doubt that even a copy with significant tropical staining would cost much less than US$1000.00. (Quantity issued is unknown.)

No further booklets were issued until 1971-1972; during these two years 15 different booklets were issued, made up variously from the definitives with Scott numbers 1039, 1063, 1064, 1065, 1216 and 1251. These were not a success with the public, but although they are quite scarce, they are readily available at retail from dealers in Brazil for what I consider to be rather fancy prices -- roughly US$80.00 apiece to $400.00 apiece, depending on which booklet it is. (Quatities issued unknown.)

In 1989 and 1990 Brazil's postal service tried again, with two slightly different booklets made up from Scott # 2218. (Quantities issued unknown.) These also flopped with the public, but can be bought at retail from dealers in Brazil for maybe US$400.00 apiece.

After these various attempts, Brazil's postal authorities finally, in the 1990s, found subjects and formats for booklets that the public liked, and an increasing number of increasingly popular boolets have been issued. Two changes accounted for the increasing popularity of booklets. First, starting in 1991, was the introduction of booklets with more interesting stamps; the first of these was made up with 6 se-tenant pairs of the "Rock in Rio" commemoratives Scott # 2298-99. Second, starting in 1997, was the introduction of self-adhesive definitives in minisheets designed specifically to be folded into booklet form; these include Scott 2655-59, 2698-2702 and 2826 (all noted in Scott as being issued in booklet form), as well as Scott 2772 (not specifically noted by Scott as being a booklet). All the booklets issued from 1991 on are readily available and not expensive. However, although Scott prices the booklet 2772 at the same catalog value used as mint, finding the intact booklet postally used, although possible, is a major challenge.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Brazil's "Madrugada" definitives of 1894 to 1906

The "Madrugadas" are the stamps listed by Scott with catalog numbers 112-124, 140-150A, 159-161 and 166-171d. They have been intensively studied by philatelists since about 1911, and a great deal is known about them. But much is still unknown, because all the records of Brazil's Mint (Casa da Moeda), which produced these stamps, were destroyed in an accidental fire in 1910. Very many known varieties exist that are not listed or noted by Scott; this note will mention just a few things to look for in forming a collection of these stamps.

To begin with, the 50 reis Scott 115 was originaly printed from two plates, one for the vignette and one for the frame. In 1897 this was replaced by a single plate, so the color specified by Scott for 115, "dk bl & bl" is incorrect for all printed after 1897; those (inculding many copies of 115 and all copies of 142 and 147A) are just blue, and are easily distinguishable. Scott has a footnote saying that the 100 reis, #116, exists in 5 types, but there are 6. As plates and dies for this most heavily used stamp of the issue wore, a sequence of changes was made. First, worn vignettes were reinserted with a retouched die; this is the type not mentioned by Scott. Next, worn vignettes were replaced with vignettes intended for the 200, 500 and 700 reis stamps; these are scarce and sell for considerably more than the other varieties. Finally, a new die was prepared. and was used to replace worn vignettes and make new plates. Further, on some copies of the 100 reis made from both the original and the new vignette die, the tops of the digits "00" are pointed, rather than rounded. Perhaps the scarcest of all the 100 reis Madrugada varieties is a pair in which one stamp is printed from the original vignette die and the other from the 1897 new die.

Other striking plate varieties exist on several of the denominations, and there are an unknown but very large number of minor plate varieties; extensive collections and exhibits of these have been formed from time to time.

In 1900, to comply with a UPU resolution, the colors of three denomiantions were changed: the 50 reis to green, the 100 reis to red, and the 200 reis to blue. The initial printings of all these were made from existing plates, two plates for each denomination. later that year, single plates were made for each denomination, readily distinguished from the earlier printings. Scott 160a and one of the 3 types of Scott 161 are from the first printings in these new colors; the first printing of the 50 reis green is not mentioned by Scott. Later that same year, many of the denominations began to be printed from plates with more space between individual subjects than had been the case until then; this is a very complex subject, but the "wider spacing" mentioned in Scott's Specialized 1840-1940 can be distinguished from the earlier plates by the horizontal spacing between subjects: if less than 1.25 mm, it's "narrow" spacing, and if more than 1.25 mm, it's the "wider" spacing. Scott 160a always occurs with narrow spacing, as do Scott 112, 116, 118, 120, 121, 124 and 140-150A. Scott 160 and 166-171d always occur with wide spacing. Scott 113, 114, 119, 122, 159 and 161 occur with both "narrow" and "wider" spacing.

Briefly in 1899 the printers experimented with the coarse perfs listed by Scott as numbers 140-150A. Be careful about acquiring these, especially stamps alleged to be perforated a compound of 5 1/2 to 7 by 11 to 11 1/2, or a compound of 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 by 11 to 11 1/2. Except on Scott 147 and 149, I have never seen a genuine copy of these compound perfs, and I don't expect to, althugh some may exist. As for the stamps perf 5 1/2 to 7 and the stamps perf 8 1/2 to 9 1/2, I have a number of singles that look to me as if they were faked from jumbo copies of stamps with ordinary perfs. I consider that all of 140-150A are most safely collected in pairs or larger multiples.

The perforations and papers of the Madrugadas form a huge subject for specialized study, and there is a quite large literature on these, but one that's still incomplete. It's possible to form a several-volume collection of the Madrugadas
if one is persistent and patient enough, and to include in it varieties not noted in any catalog, including undocumented imperforates and part perfs.

Be aware that the "surcharges" which one occasionally sees on Madrugadas are all fraudulent, produced by fakers at the same time genuine surcharges were applied to the newspaper stamps and the 1890 definitives. Also, be extremely suspicious of bisects on cover or piece; these were never authorized, and although it's possible that a few are genuine, most are fakes.

Literature and other information about the Madrugadas is extensive, but widely scattered and hard to come by. The two most essential documents on this issue are:
(a) "Brasil: Estudo Sobre as Emissoes de 1894 a 1906" by Helmuth Ponge, J.L.E. Baade and Horst Flateau, published in Sao Paulo in 1963; and (b) "Estudo dos Papeis e das Emissoes do Padrao de 1.894-1.906" by Dr. Jose de Oliveira Pinho, publishes (where?) in 1983. Both are quite hard to locate. If you wish to start a study of this issue and cannot find the relevant literature, email me at and I'll be glad to send you photocopies of these and quite a bit of other material on the Madrugadas for my cost to copy and mail the material.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Brazil money order stamps

From Jan 1, 1913 to Dec. 31 1941, Brazil used special "money order stamps", {"depositos" in Brazilian Portuguese)on postal money order forms in denominations matching the amount of money being sent. These stamps were available in 14 denominations, the lowest being 100 reis and the highest being 1,000,000 reis.
They are rectangular, in horizontal format, about twice the area of definitive postage stamps, and all of them say "Brazil Correio Deposito" (first design) or "Brasil Correio Deposito" (second design) with, of course, the denomination; the two designs are immediately distinguishable not only by the different spelling of the country name, but also by the word "Correio" being curved on stamps of the first design and straight on stamps of the second design. In adition to the money order stamps, each money order (except certain official money orders) bore postage stamps in the amount of the postal fee for the money order. The postage stamps were canceled normally, but the money order stamps were canceled in manuscript by the sending postal clerk. Various other printed, manuscript and handstamped inscriptions are on the front and back of these money orders. Money order stamps are often mistaken for revenues, but they are not; they are postal, used as an accounting control for the rather large amounts of money transmitted by postal money orders. These stamps, on and off money orders, can be a fascinating subject of study and collecting.

Unused copies were not ordinarily sold to the public, and genuine unused copies are quite rare; if you encounter what seems to be an unused copy, it is most likely a stamp that was used and later had the pen cancel chemically removed.

The stamps of the first design were produced by the American Bank Note Company, and there was only one printing. All the denominations of this first issue are common except the 500,000 and 1,000,000 reis, and all are inexpensive. As stocks of the various denominations of this set ran low, Brazil's Mint (Casa da Moeda) produced corresponding stamps of the second design. Because the ABNCo order had specified quantities that turned out in practice to last much longer for the hghest and lowest denominations than for the ones in between, stamps of the second design were put into use at various different dates: 1920 for the 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 and 100,000 reis, 1924 for the 200,000 and 500,000 reis, 1930 for the 500 reis, 1935 for the 1,000,000 reis, 1936 for the 100 and 200 reis. There are more than 80 watermark, perfotation and paper varieties of the money order stamps of the second design, interesting to specialists.

Of the 28 face-different designs, only the 100 reis of the second design is rare and pricey; it wasn't issued until 1936, when the volume of money orders was already declining and 100 reis was a very small amount of money (roughly equivalent in purchasing power to US 2 cents at that time), so it got little use, and of course was not sold to collectors unused. One is unlikeely to find a VF copy for less than US$100.00, and I won't guess how much a copy still on money order would be worth.

These money order stamps can form a fascinating specialized collection, whether as detached stmaps or on the original money orders. Especially on money orders, one finds every imaginable shortcut of the "official" regulations for how money orders were to be prepared and accounted for, and several different forms of use. Generally speaking, individual money orders with both the money orders and the postage stamps attached can be bought for US$2.00 to $5.00 apiece, but especially interesting ones may sell for many times that. Some sellers have an inflated idea of the value of money orders; ignore those. But it's worth looking in particular for money orders from small towns, money orders where the postal fees were paid with commemoratives or with obsolete postage stamps, money orders sent "by telegram" like Western Union money orders, and other interesting and unusual uses.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Three new Brazil stamp discoveries

As I mentioned in a previous item, knowledge of the philately of Brazil is still far less complete than for many other countries, so new discoveries, even of older stamps, continue to be made. I know of three such in 2005, interesting primarily to specialists, but striking enough so that if they had been US items they would get Scott catalog entries and be reported in Linn's Stamp News.

First of these was an imperforate single of the issued stamp Scott Brazil 78. Scott has had a note mentioning that this exists, but neither I nor some other specialists had ever seen or heard of imperforates of the issued stamp, although two types of imperforates from proof sheets have been known for quite a few years, and are listed in specialized catalogs of Brazil. When I first heard of this item, I was skeptical, but the owner got it expertised by the American Philatelic Association's expertization service, and it came back with a "Genuine" opinion. It has recently been sold at auction.

The next one to appear was an imperforate unwatermarked block of Scott 669; this needs a bit of explanation. This 20 Cruzeiro stamp is one of the set of 16 denominations of definitives that were used from 1947 to 1954, all of them with the watermark numbered Wmk. 267 by Scott. For quite a few years, watermarked imperforate pairs and blocks of 7 of the 16 denominations have been known; they are scarce, but not unduly so. Also known were unwatermarked imperforate pairs and blocks of 3 of the 4 top denominations; not proofs, but stamps intentionally or accientally printed and sold. These three, the 5, 10 and 50 Cruzeiro denominations, are also scarce, but not as scarce as the watermarked imperforates. At a recent auction, these latter three *plus* an unwatermarked imperforate block of the 20 Cruzeiros, were offered as one lot; they came from the collection of a collector now deceased. He had recognized what he had, but seemingly never publicized it. It happens that I own pairs of the other 3 imperforate unwatermarked ones, so I compared those as carefully as I know how with the group that came up for auction, and from details of paper and printing, concluded that the three in the auction lot that had already been known are genuine, not proofs, and that the 20 Cruzeiros is also a genuine stamp block, not a proof or an essay. This will be worth a major number listing in a future Brazil specialized catalog.

Most recently, within the last few weeks, a copy of Scott 460 with watermark 249 vertical instead of horizontal, appeared on the market. This is a real surprise. Brazil Scott 458-460, the 2000, 5000 and 10000 reis definitives of the 1930s, were originally produced in 1938 from plates of 100 subjects, and this produced stamps on which the watermark is horizontal; all are common. The following year new plates of 458 and 459 were put into use, with 150 subjects, and the orientation of the cliches on these later plates was rotated 90 degrees from the orientation of the cliches n the previous plates, so the watermark appears vertical instead of horizontal. But no such change in the plate of the 10000 reis is mentioned in any of the literature I have. Evidently, though, a 150 subject plate of the 10000 reis must have been prepared and stamps printed from it; the only copy I know of at the moment is unused, so I can't guess whether the stamps from the 150-subject plate of the 10000 reis ever saw postal use. This will, of course, trigger an intensive search among specialists for more such vertically watermarked copies of Scott 460, unused or used.

The point of this discussion is that if you have (or start, or acquire) a collection of Brazil stamps, it's worth examining every stamp carefully, no matter how ordinary it may seem. The three new discoveries in one year discussed in this item indicate to me that there are more unreported varieties of Brazil's stamps sitting "out there", just waiting to be discovered by collectors who examine them carefully.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Brazil: Categories of "used"

In the earliest period of stamp collecting, small labels were issued to be attached to envelopes or letter sheets or postal forms denoting prepayment of postal fees or collection of postal fees for transporting items through the mail from a sender to a recipient. As stamp collecting became more and more popular in the late 19th Century, many countries perceived the potential revenue available from selling stamps, unused or canceled, to collectors who would not use them for postage. So unnecessary issues attractive to collectors proliferated, "microcountries and "microcolonies" with no need for their own stamps issued stamps, stamps canceled by the postal authorities and invalid for postage were sold to collectors below the nominal face value, and so on. For every country I collect, I like to know that the stamps I acquire were in fact available to postal patrons in that country for payment of postage or postal fees charged for sending things through the mail. This can get quite complicated because of all the ingenious gambits invented by postal administrations, philatelic agencies and private groups to produce "stamps" that were not, and were never intended to be, created for postal use in the alleged country of origin. So I try, as best I can, to learn which issues were actually sold by the post office to postal patrons for prepayment of postage or postal fees for transmission of items through the mail, or collection of postage or postal fees a posteriori for items that require additional payment for sch tramission from originator to recipient. Figuring this out depends on the country and the time period, and in some cases the specific issue. As I discuss this in connection with Brazil, I shall divide "used" into categories, some of which I'll ilustrate by comparing them to what other countries do.

First off, Brazil has never issued what are usually thught of as "CTOs", stamps canceled by the printer and then sold to dealers and the public at less than face value. However, like France, the USA, and other countries, Brazil has produced numerous "favor cancels" (like the ones applied to unaddressed US FDC's sent in after the actual date of issue), which are canceled to make them "used", but which do not pay postage from a sender to a recipient, and which are charged for by the postal authorities at or above the denomination of the stamp. For some Brazil issues, such "favor cancels" are far more common than copies that were postally used on commercial or philatelic covers. In Brazil they appear not only on first day covers, but on stamps or blocks of stamps canceled at a post office counter by a clerk without being affixed to a mail item; on unaddressed handback covers; on maximum cards; in the "editals" that announce new stamp issues; in official or unofficial "folinhas" (folders) cebrating events, and so on. This practice began on a large scale with the issue of Scott Brazil 162-165, Brazil's first commemoratives, issued to subsidize a national exposition, in the expectation that few would be used for postage, and indeed few of them were; most have a characteristic Rio 5th Section or 7th Section cancel that was applied to stamps or handback covers at the exhibition, and in some cases were even sold by the printer already canceled with this cancle. Postally used copies are scarce, and tend to bring considerably more than Scott catalog value.

Subsequent commemoratives were also favor canceled in many cases; most of these can be distinguished from postally used copies by the sharpness and neatness of cancellations, but for some this is difficult. By some time in the 1920s, special cancels were applied as favor cancels in some locations, and this practice spread rapidly. These special cancels, of course, invalidated the canceled stamps for payment of postage or postal fees.

It became enough of a burden on postal clerks to apply these special cancels so that in 1972 the postal authorities started experimenting with applying special cancels to a quantity of some commemoratives and souvenir sheets before distributing them to the philatelic windows of post offices. But did these pre-applied special cancels invalidate the stams for postal use? For years I was uncertain about this, because of conficting evidence; I have recently satisfied myself that these pre-applied special cancels in some cases functioned as precancels, and the stamps or souvenir sheets bearing them could be bought at special postal counters and used to prepay postage, receiving a CDS dated as much as 18 months after the printed date on the special cancel. FDC cancels in addition to the special cancels are extremely common, but these later uses are scarce.

Because of problems of difficult separation, and faults that occur in postal use, most commemoratives and souvenir sheets since about 1985 are a lot easier to find VF without faults favor canceled than postally used, so building a collection of postally used modern Brazi stamps and sovenir sheets can be a real challenge. VF used copies without defects ordered from many dealers in the USA and other countries are mostly favor cancels, although sufficient persistence can turn up postally used copies, with a few exceptions. My personal rule of thumb is that I expect to pay 2 to 5 times Scott catalog value for every Brazil commem or souvenir sheet issued since 1985 that I succeed in finding VF without faults that can be clearly shown to be postally used.

A very few Brazil stamps that were valid for postage seem to be almost imossible to locate postally used. But conversely, a few items that were supposed to be invalid for postage were accepted to frank letters by postal clerks wh knew what they were doing; my rule of thumb on these is that if I can locate two or more international registered covers mailed from the main Rio de Janeiro post office that got to their destinations without any Brazilian or other country markings questioning the validity of the "stamps", I consider those stamps to have been de facto valid for postage, no matter what the fine print of the official rules said.

There are a few other twists and quirks in this subject, and at some point in the near future I'll fil in the gaps, but this is enough for now.