Stamp detective: Ecuador centenary of Charles Darwin stamps

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11 September 2019
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Our stamp detective presents stamps issued to mark the centenary of Charles Darwin to the Galapagos Islands - striking stamps that can be surprisingly difficult, but rewarding, to track down.

In 1835 Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean where his observations helped him develop his theories on the evolution of species. A century later, Ecuador released a set of six postage stamps marking the centenary of Darwin’s visit to this Ecuadorian insular territory which today is a national park and a most popular (but expensive) tourist destination.

It is a beautiful set featuring not only a portrait of Darwin but also a map of the islands, a land iguana and a Galapagos tortoise. Rather surprisingly, the set also includes a stamp showing Christopher Columbus who never set foot on the islands. However, the islands have been referred to as the Columbus archipelago. The set was recess printed by De La Rue and in 1936 the same stamps were overprinted ‘OFICIAL’ to be used as service stamps.

Obtaining the stamps

The stamps were extensively used postally back in 1935 and a nice used complete set can be had for about £2. However, finding a complete unused or unmnounted mint set is a different matter. There is a growing demand for this set but very few dealers have any in stock. This is one example where dealers tend to charge more than catalogue value. 

Expect to pay about £35 for an unmounted mint set and slightly more than £20 for a mounted mint set. Shopping around, you might find a set at a lower price if dealers haven’t re-priced it following the increased interest.

 

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