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.


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