Stamp exhibition at the Royal Philatelic Society London: Portraits of South American Revolutionaries

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27 January 2016
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Screen-Shot-2016-01-28-at-09.25.59-71455.png Antonio Jose de Sucre (1795-1830)
In our exclusive stamp collecting article, we examine the stamps and essays in a new exhibition at the Royal Philatelic Society London (RPSL) Museum

By the late 1700s, revolutionary fever had crossed the Atlantic from Europe to Latin America

There was a lot of discontent with Spanish rule because:

• Only Spanish people controlled the government, laws and economy.
• The South Americans with Spanish ancestry, called Creoles, resented their second-class status.
• The non-white Americans disliked not being able to obtain status, wealth and power.
• Slaves, who worked on plantations wanted their freedom.

What Caused Discontent in Latin America?
• The spread of Enlightenment ideas.
• American and French revolutions.
• Growth of nationalism in South America.

Why in the early 1800s?
• Decades of resentment of colonial rule
• Emperor Napoleon invades Spain and replaces the weak Spanish King
• Spain’s colonies needed to govern themselves
• Revolutionary leaders emerged from the educated Creole class

Who were the revolutionary leaders?
Simón Bolívar (1783-1830)
• Led an uprising and created a republic of Venezuela. He then went on to capture other South American states.
• Tried to unite Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador, and northern Peru into Gran Colombia.
• Civil War broke out based on the federalists who wanted a political system similar to that in the USA, and the centralists who wanted a strong, central leader to take charge.
• Gran Colombia later split into 3 countries: Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador.

Antonio Nariño (1765-1824)
• During the Civil Wars, Nariño favoured a strong, centralist approach to government.

Francisco de Paula Santander (1792-1840)
• The federalist Santander led the army against the Spanish Royalists at the Battle of Boyacá.
• He was implicated in an assassination attempt on Bolívar's life, and was exiled.
 
Antonio José de Sucre (1795-1830)
• With the formation of Bolivia, Bolívar declined to become its first President and instead gave the Presidency to his friend, Sucre.

Policarpa Salvarriete (1795-1817)
• Salvarriete offered her services as a seamstress to the Royalist families, thereby enabling her to spy on them.
• Many women were involved with the revolutionary cause – often by helping the armies and using their excellent horse-riding skills and fighting in battle.

Francisco José de Caldas (1768-1816)
• As a federalist, he fought against the centralists in the Civil Wars.

Antonia Ricaurte (1786-1814)
• Died protecting an ammunition depot from the Royalist forces.

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Battle of Boyacá
The Battle of Boyacá (7 August 1819) was a decisive moment where the republican armies paved the way for the region to declare independence.

An army of Colombians and Venezuelans, supported by British and Irish volunteers, defeated the Royalists in just two hours.

British and Irish fighters, fresh from the Napoleonic Wars, were motivated by Bolívar’s vision as well as by more mercenary reasons (they longed for land of their own).

The Stamps
The Colombian stamps were printed in 1917 by Perkins Bacon, a London printers (of stamps and banknotes). Perkins Bacon printed the Bolivian stamps in 1925 / 1930.

On display at the RPSL Museum are the stamp dies on which the designs were engraved by hand.

Stamps are often used to commemorate past events or people. During his lifetime, Simón Bolívar became a much hated man as he turned more and more autocratic. He was forgotten in the decades after his death. However, slowly he became a revolutionary hero, with all the bad things about him forgotten.

The stamps were printed using the intaglio printing method where ink was rolled on the plates and held within the grooves greater by the engraver.

The displays are open to the public 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday, by prior arrangement. 
Please contact The Royal Philatelic Society London on tel: 0207 486 1044; e-mail [email protected]


Note: The photograph of the stamp die is shown as mirror image.
© The Royal Philatelic Society London 2016