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.

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