Stamp detective: Philippines Montalban Gorge

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05 November 2019
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We spotlight a Philippine Montalban Gorge stamp that looks set to increase in value.

The Spanish colony of the Philippines was occupied by US forces in 1898. On 15 November 1935, the Philippines was declared a Commonwealth of the United States of America and it was only in 1946 that the country became a fully independent republic.

On 15 February 1935, a set of fourteen definitive stamps printed by the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing was issued. It is a handsome set featuring local scenery, references to Philippine history and, strangely, an equestrian portrait of George Washington on the top 5-peso value.

This set was then overprinted ‘COMMONWEALTH’ in the 1936-1937 period. Only 30,000 copies of the 4-peso value depicting the Montalban Gorge were thus overprinted, making it quite a scarce set today. In UMM condition the set currently catalogues at US$120.

However, there was a second issue of the same overprint in much smaller letters issued in the 1938-40 period. Once again it’s the 4-peso stamp which is the key item in this set as only 6.500 stamps were overprinted.

What should I look for?

Be on the look-out for 1938-1940 sets which have been misidentified. The second set has a mounted mint catalogue value of some US$200 and unmounted mint about doubles the value. Recently an UMM mint set was offered on an internet auction site for just $99, which seems extremely reasonable.

Philippine stamps are not that popular generally in today’s market conditions but many of the better sets released while the Philippines was a US possession are in demand. 

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