February 2019

In February, the Club was entertained by Nick and Janet Nelson, who gave us "An Afternoon in Brazil", complete with suitable outfits and a PowerPoint presentation. They explained that their collection had begun with a packet of 1000 different Brazil stamps, but it had now stretched to a 17-volume collection comprising of every Brazilian stamp.

Part 1 spanned from 1843 to 1983, and Part 2 covered the period from 1983 to 2017.
They informed us that Brazil has a population of around 200 million and is 35 times larger than the UK.

The first stamp issue, in 1843 was of three values to 90 reis, colloquially known as the 'Bullseyes'. They were used for sealing envelopes and hence are often damaged. These were followed by the 'snakeseyes', with higher values up to 900 reis. Both these issues were in black.

The first coloured stamps were issued in 1854, although there was a reversion to black for the 1857 issue. This issue was perforated in the Post Offices, but later issues were perforated by the printers. The early issues had been printed in Brazil, but in 1856 the American Banknote Company produced the first Dom Pedro II issue, commonly known as "Blackbeard". In 1877 these were superseded by the "Whitebeard" issue, which is complex, but can be loosely classified into large, small and tiny head issues. By now, you will have realised that Brazil gave nicknames to all stamps.

We learnt about the different kind of stamps from Newspaper stamps/Postage Dues/Tax stamps and the various varieties from colour to perforations and watermarks. We learnt that there were two revolutions one in 1890-1891when Brazil became a republic and in 1930, both were marked by new issues.

The next section covered Private Airline Stamps. Only three airlines were authorised to issue such stamps, namely Condor, Varig and ETA. Early airmail items included a Dornier DOX card, a catapult mail cover and an ETA First Flight, with the only ETA stamps that Nick and Janet have ever seen on cover.
We were shown the 1927 and 1934 Varig stamps, with denominations for the US and for Europe. Shortages were remedied by overprinting existing stock. After the outbreak of WWII, long distance flights were provided by the Italian company LATI until Italy entered the war.

We also learnt about the confusing over the spelling of Brazil, which was correct, an “S” or a “Z”? The confusion lasted until 1945, when Brazil and Portugal met and agreed on the first Orthographic Vocabulary of Portuguese Language; such vocabulary defined the form “Brasil,” but the Anglo world kept using Brazil with “Z” because that what we were used to and the country when first formed was spelt with a “Z.”

The new capital, Brasilia was opened in 1960 and suitably marked by a stamp issue. Amazingly, Brasília was built in 41 months, from 1956 to April 21, 1960, when it was officially inaugurated.

Further commemoratives followed, from 1965 for the 400th anniversary of the foundation of Brazil and from 1968 for the Royal visit and so until we reached 2017.

A most entertaining and delightful afternoon.