Postal Cards of Central America
From Stamps of the World
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Central American Postal Cards - Through the eyes of the Engravers
An introduction to the art of the stamp / postal history engravers through the early postal cards of Central America. The themes used are those of Allegories showcasing the countries, wealth, productivity and the excellence of its communication, transport and cultures.
The trials and tribulations of the Countries from Central America can be seen from the symbolism in their Postal Stationery. Initially the Engravings were done by the security engravers of The American Bank Note Company, The Hamilton Bank Note Company of New York and The Manhattan Bank Note Company to name a few.
CENTRAL AMERICA REGION
Much of their struggles against colonialism and their struggle for independence can be seen in the imagery used on their postal stationery items. Following the ‘discovery’ of the America’s by Christopher Columbus, Spain commenced a period of ruthless enslavery and colonisation. Some sources quote that up to 90% of indigenous populations were taken into slavery. Spain’s Colonisation took a strangle-hold on the continent from Mexico through to the continent of South America. Spain was not the only coloniser of the region England, France, Netherlands and Denmark all wanted control of the wealth and rich resources that they had to plunder.
When Spain first took control they established the Kingdom of Guatemala as their base of control. This covered the area from Mexico down to Costa Rica, effectively the main band of land of Central America. After some trial governments of the region the Federal Republic of Central America (FRCA) was founded with Guatemala City as its ‘capital’ of the region. The FRCA was made up from the following 5 countries; GUATEMALA, EL SALVADOR, NICARAGUA, COSTA RICA & HONDURAS. The FRCA lasted a little over 15 years before civil wars tore the region apart again. From the late 1800’s the region was divided and had the following countries Guatemala, Honduras, British Honduras (Renamed Belize in 1973), El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Many of the West Indies are now considered to be classed in the Central American region, i.e. Dominica. Whilst we are maybe all familiar with the designs and symbolism of the stamps of these countries I will show you the detail of the larger illustrated postal stationery cards and hopefully show the engravers art in representing these postal authorities.
TARJETA POSTAL is worked through the main design on the card. Tarjeta Postal translates as Postcard in Spanish. The card also has Respuesta at the bottom left signifying that it is the response portion of the card. Many of the cards were issued in double forms, one is shown later for Guatemala. The sender sent both cards and the reply portion was then sent back. Features the Ruiz shield of Dominica with 4 flags of the country draped over flagpoles. In the centre of the flags is a bible surmounted by a cross. Above the shield is the latin motto DIOS PATRIA LIBERTAD which translates as GOD COUNTRY FREEDOM. Beneath the shield are two branches one of Palm and the other of Olive. Palm is often shown as a sign of Victory in this case independence from rule. Whilst Olive is symbolic of Victory. On the Engraved border RD worked into the Rose grill effect reflecting the initials of the country. The corner motif like the ‘3’ for the value is encompassed by Acanthus leaves. The corner itself appears to be a Cocoa shell, which is one of the primary resources of the islands. On the Left hand side of the card is a standard showing a cross sash and above this on top of the spear is a ‘Liberty Cap’ or a Phrygian hat which is a common theme throughout the region. The Liberty cap has been a symbol of freedom from slavery and colonisation in the region. It still features on at least 7 coats of arms of the countries in the region. It is also a very common feature of the postal stationery as we will see. The Liberty cap shape has also lent its name to the fungus of the same name (Psilocybe semilanceata). Historically as a sign of freedom the liberty cap was raised as shown atop a spear.
A strange denomination for the card as at the time 100 centavos = 8 Reales therefore the card was for 12½ centavos. Again the theme of liberty is portrayed by the use of the head of a classic woman portraying Liberty.
This portrait was also used for SG3 of Guatemala. The central design is again surrounded by Acanthus leaves intricately winding around the portrait on top of the leaves is a single pearl that signifies wisdom and free thought. The symmetric rose working around the edges is very delicate. However when it comes to the corners the design becomes loose and more geometrically stylised.
Here the engraving is as fine as any you will see, the attention to detail is magnificent, from the people walking around the scene to the fountains, clouds and architecture of the building. On the imprinted stamp, which is the type 16 of Guatemala. The design shows 1897 below a torch of liberty. The two ovals contain a picture of President J M Reyna Barrios. In the other oval is a Palm and a Laurel or Myrtle wreath with a Quetzel the national bird of Guatemala.
To either side is a steamship and a locomotive to signify the importance of Guatemala as a trading country. In the four corners of the imprint are the arms of El Salvador, Honduras, Honduras and Costa Rica showing the unity of the region and the close links that were retained following Spanish rule with the neighbouring countries. Below the central images is the wording Exposicion-Centro-Americana; an exposition is a statement of intent to give information about a difficult subject. At this time Central America was trying to show that they where a region that was important not just to Central American Countries but worldwide as a route to get from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Transporting goods by both ship and rail across the narrowest stretch of the continent. Like many countries Guatemala had joined the UPU which is again echoed in the designs on the card.
The Card is printed on both sides, one as a senders card and one as a paid reply card. Therefore the sender would have purchased the card at the rate of 3+3c. Reply paid cards meant that the receiver could reply without cost, which was always a better way of getting a reply from someone. One side is marked up Carte Carte Postale Avec Reponse Payee and the other is headed Carte Postale Reponse. Which translates as Postcard with reply paid and Postcard reply. Similar in design to the previous card, this is the Express mail card hence the rate. This card was able to have the message written on the inside and then sealed, allowing the message to be delivered safe from prying eyes. The receiver would simply tear around the perforations to reveal the contents. Again the 1887 imprint features on this card, but the building design has been changed to what I believe is the Old Capitol Building which has been ruined by volcanic and earthquake activity. Above the building are the flags of the Central American countries again signifying unity in the region. A reply portion which has been Cancelled to Order, many of these postal items were cancelled in this way for collectors. The cancel used is a 8 portioned star or wheel, in a light blue colour. This time the design features the national bird more prominently. The resplendent Quetzal sits atop a column with the words 18 Mars 1881 UPU to signify the date that Guatemala joined the UPU, surrounded by the wreath of the Palm. The value is surrounded by flowers that appear to be Montanoa, an indigenous plant of Central America. The card has a more stylised design around its edge and the features are ornately drawn.
El Salvador 1 centavo Ceres Green on Salmon Card Printed by the Hamilton Bank Note Engraving & Printing Co. New York.
A simple card with not much in its design, showing Ceres with a scythe and bundle of cereal crops in her hands. Ceres is used on stamps around the world to signify agricultural strengths of countries. Ceres was the Roman goddess of growing plants. Above Ceres is the UPU date of entry 1899
El Salvador 3 centavos Ceres Blue on Brown, blued Card (Above) Printed by the Hamilton Bank Note Engraving & Printing Co. New York.
El Salvador 3 centavos Ceres Blue on Brown Card (Above) Printed by the Hamilton Bank Note Engraving & Printing Co. New York.
El Salvador 2 centavos Independance Red on Cream Card Printer unknown
This appears to be a simple designed postcard celebrating the Signing of the Acta de Independencia (Act of Independence) of Central America from Spanish rule on the 15th September 1821. The act was signed in Guatemala City. El Salvador was annexed to Mexico in 1822, but following civil unrest it joined the United Provinces of Central America by 1939 this group was dissolved and El Salvador gained its own independence. However close inspection shows that the card is anything but simply designed. El Salvador did not issue postcards until 1883, this card is dated 1st January 1883 along the left margin, the date that imprinted postcards where first allowed to be used. The Imprinted 2 centavos has a wreath of Acanthus leaves and is squared off with a stylised border. At the four corners of the card is a nice flowing design of Palm leaves and berries. Coming to the design in the arms on the left, we see some atypical El Salvadore design that feature prominently on postcards to be shown later. From the top we have in pyramid designs two SS’s these are the initials of the capital city San Salvador. The pyramid is representative of the central motif of one of the country’s dominant features, the volcano of San Miguel. El Salvador has 21 volcanoes that run through the central part of the country of which 6 can be classed as active. The central motif of the smoking volcano is flanked by the flags of El Salvador. Above the volcano we have two horns of plenty which signify the rich wealth food El Salvador produced. Above the horns on the spear is the Liberty Cap which we have seen before. The cap is surrounded by rays of the sun that represent hope and prosperity in each day that the sun rises. The central design is surrounded by REPUBLICA DEL SALVADOR AMERICA CENTRAL and the Act of Independence date of 15th September 1821.
El Salvador 1 centavos ‘Mayor’ Urbano Service Printed by the Hamilton Bank Note Engraving & Printing Co. New York
El Salvador 2 centavos ‘Mayor’ Exterior Service Printed by the Hamilton Bank Note Engraving & Printing Co. New York
During the late 1800’s many of the Central American countries were forming alliances to show strength in number and one such alliance that resulted in 1896 was the Greater Republic of Central America also known as the Republica Mayor de Centro America. This was a union with El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras. It was short lived however and ended two years later in 1898, lasting long enough for a stamp issue and postcards to commemorate the union. The imprinted stamp is type 57 and shows three Liberties together with Liberty caps on two are holding hands whilst the third stands with the flag of El Salvador. Again a rising sun over 5 volcano peaks, representing prosperity and hope. The central design is surrounded by palm and acanthus leaves. The 1c postcard was for use in El Salvador and is marked Servicio Urbano whilst the 2c postcard is for Foreign mailing and is headed Servicio Exterior.
El Salvador 2 centavos Interior UPU 1896 Brown on Cream Printed by the Hamilton Bank Note Engraving & Printing Co. New York
El Salvador 2 centavos Interior UPU 1897 Blue on Blue (looks bluff in scan but is blued) Printed by the Hamilton Bank Note Engraving & Printing Co. New York
The imprinted stamp on the Brown postcard is of the Government Buildings in San Salvador as type 39 of El Salvador whilst the Blue Postcard features an imprint of General Rafael Antonio Gutiérrez who was general at that time. On the Coat of Arms can be seen San Miguel volcano smoking with a clipper ship passing in the foreground. The rising sun features again. Above the smoke is an almost full circle of 14 stars representing the 14th provinces at the time in El Salvador. Again above the arms is a more ornate feature already seen, namely the twin horns of plenty and the Liberty cap hoisted on a spear. The two flanking flags are the stars and stripes of El Salvador, again featuring 14 stars for the provinces and 9 stripes of the departments of the republic. The other flag is the flag of El Salvador but this time showing the volcano surrounded by the stars. Below the flags are wreaths of Palm and although difficult to see there is a cannon and a bow with arrow crossed. The arms and flags are nicely encompassed in a scroll of Acanthus leaves which link into the main header design of the postcard. As can be seen there are numerous rays of sunshine emanating from the arms foretelling hope and prosperity of the nation. Both cards are for Interior use.
El Salvador 2 centavos Interior UPU 1895 Blue on Buff Printed by the Hamilton Bank Note Engraving & Printing Co. New York
Very similar in design is this 1895 UPU postcard bearing two designs of the coat of arms, with one on the imprint as type 34 of El Salvador. The central RS stands for Republic del Salvador. The corner design is very ornate with rose worked spandrels running along each edge.
El Salvador 2 centavos Interior Peace 1890 Brown on Cream Printed by the Hamilton Bank Note Engraving & Printing Co. New York
El Salvador 3 centavos Universal Peace 1890 Orange on white Printed by the Hamilton Bank Note Engraving & Printing Co. New York
The next two examples show the imprinted stamp type 14 of Peace in her right hand is the flag of the stars and stripes and a shield is being held in her left hand. Above her head are the stars representing the provinces. Acanthus leaves ornate the corners of the imprint.
In each corner of the cards is the volcano and ship seen in previous cards of El Salvador, these cards however show three volcanoes now to symbolise the mayor union with Hinduras and Nicaragua. Both value tablets show an intricate rose working background with the 2c stating it is for internal use and the 3c stating it is for universal post.
El Salvador 3 centavos Universal Postcard 1894 Liberty Green on Blue and Magenta imprint Unstated printer
Liberty again looking out at sea with the flag of El Salvador draped over her shoulder. Watching the sun rise over the three volcanoes. This was the year before the union with Honduras and Nicaragua, but already the symbolism shows that El Salvador was reaching out for an agreement to unionise with them through the imagery. The CA in the top corner stands for Central America and the date of issue is 1894. The card bears a green engraving of the smoking San Miguel volcano and ship motif. The sun’s rays extend around the image, which has been enhanced to show its detail. This time there are 15 stars to indicate the number of provinces, which may be an engravers error as I cannot find record of more than 14 departmental regions.
El Salvador 2 centavos Interior Reply Postcard 1893 General Ezeta Black and Orange on Buff Printed by the Hamilton Bank Note Co. New York
One of my favourite cards from El Salvador, the rose background in orange is fantastic to look at. Amongst the rose working can be seen ovals of Repulica Del Salvador throughout. Not much in the way of discourse, but the engravers art speaks volumes..... view and view again.
El Salvador 1 centavo Interior Postcard 1892 Columbus Blue and Orange on CreamPrinted by the Hamilton Bank Note Company New York
Another beauty! Worth spending a couple of images on, for the detail on it. Columbus is said to have landed in Central America in 1492 do this card was issued to celebrate the 400th anniversary of his landing. The Country banner shows the flags of union and a Liberty cap aloft. The border is heavily stylised in a rose worked way with decorated corner emblems. The imprinted stamp is as type 13 of El Salvador and features Columbus as he landed with one of his men knelt on the ground, the stamp is set in a wall plinth adorned with scrolls and columns.
The brown engraving shows the voyage of Columbus setting out from Spain on the 3rd of August 1492 and his stop off at the Canary Islands before travelling on to San Salvador near Cuba where he landed on the 12th of October. The landing place of Columbus gave the name to El Salvador in Central America, which is also detailed on the map. The engraver has shown the boats sailing across the ocean in immense detail. The rigging on the masts can be made out even on the smallest ship, whilst on the larger ship, individual sailors can be seen. The same image has been embossed in the following envelope
Honduras 3 centavo Universal Postcard Seal of Honduras Blue on White c.1890 Printed by the Hamilton Bank Note Company New York
This 3c Universal postcard of Honduras, again highlights the art of the engraver, with small wheels and linked by rose work around the borders. The corners are ornately drawn in with Acanthus and Bank note type rose-working. These link up at the top above the imprinted stamp with a Peacock like fan. The imprinted stamp is the type 6 of 1890. The stamp is in an ornate Acanthus motif frame. Inside the oval of the country name is the seal of Honduras. An equilateral triangle supported by two castles sits atop the sea. The sun’s rays radiate from behind. On the normal seal there is a sun showing through the arch. However on the imprint there is a Liberty cap in the centre again reflecting the struggle from Spanish rule and independence. The cap sits atop a volcano, which is probably that of El Tigra Island (Tiger Island) in the principality of Amapala. Hopefully I will get some more Honduran cards in the near future, they are not all ornate, the majority are quite plain but there are one or two others I am keeping an eye out for. There is a 2c in orange and a 3c Universal in red of the same type as above but with an imprint of President Bogran, and a peace postcard I have also seen. One probably out of my reach is a used card which has volcanoes all around the edge alternate with radiant suns, this was used and being offered for £102 (!). There are a few others.
Costa Rica 2 Centavos UPU Green on Cream and Costa Rica 3 Centavos UPU Red on Cream Printer not stated
Both postcards shown are Universal postal rated cards, both in the same format marking the Union Postal Universal (UPU) which many of the member states of Central America joined. The imprinted stamp was not an issued type. The central figure is emblazoned on both side by the intertwined UPU symbols and this itself is surrounded by a wreath of Myrtle (Peace) on the left and Palm for Victory on the right. On the left hand side of the cards the corner ornaments are both highly stylised with the bottom showing the UPU initials intertwined again in a fresco of cocoa pods or coffee beans, something we saw in the first card of Dominica above. Around the halves of shells are again Acanthus leaves. At the top left is an art-deco style (although early by about 25 years) ornate fanned cornering, which many of these cards showed fleeting glimpses of in their design parts. The style of the border is regular steps again very modern in its design use. But the fantastic part is the central motif, with its wealth of by now familiar content.
Early coat of arms had the S-shaped lyre as being full of coffee beans in gold to signify the wealth and richness of the crop and its importance to the agriculture of the country, here I am not sure what the lyre is meant to be made (if anyone knows.... ). The central picture is of 3 volcanoes, which represent the three mountain ranges of the country. Costa Rica is the fire belly of the earth it has no less than 112 volcanoes of which 10 are still considered to be active. The volcanoes are have sea on either side, representing the pacific on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other. Both sides have a ship passing by. A sun is seen rising up to signify hope again. Above the volcanoes are 5 white stars which signified the number of provinces at the time. At the base of the lyre is the horn of plenty we have seen before, over spilling with coffee beans, crossed with the Cannon as we saw in 1c Blue UPU of El Salvador. Above this the binding ribbon shows the country ribbon. It secures two Olive Branches (victory). To the sides there are 3 standards each side with a flag of Costa Rica. Inside these (L-R) are a sword, a trumpet, a pike-spear on one side and a battle-axe along with a bayonet, the weapons of the struggle for Central America. The regions name is emblazoned above in a ribbon. The motif is centred on a large ribbon bearing the name of the country which has myrtle leaves wrapped around Whilst not a Postal card, I thought I would at least show the embossed detail on this 5 Centavos Orange and white Envelope.
By the 1920’s the postal cards retained little of the fine engraving, but still retained the symbolism and neatness as seen in this used example from 1927.
Costa Rica 2 Centimos Postcard Green on CreamPrinter Lit. Nacional C.R.
Addressed to the Kelsey Press Company in Meriden, Connecticut USA, posted from San Jose, Jan 8th 1927, arrived Jan 17th. Requesting a catalogue of Printing Presses. Again an unissued stamp type imprint. The myrtle and palm leaves are gone and have been replaced by acanthus scrolls, however the myrtle is represented by the thin branches next to the figure 2 with small berries on the stems. On the main illustration the ribbon wraps around the acanthus leaves. The corners again show an art-deco simplicity and the border is of an olive leaf patternation.
These I feel are probably the most ornate and finest engraved country postcards from this region. Nicaragua cards bring all the symbolism together from the countries we have seen.
Nicaragua 2 Centavos Interior UPU 1890 Postcard Brown & Ochre on Pink Printer Hamilton Bank Note Co. New York.
One of the nicest cards is this 2 Centavos UPU card of 1890, The dark rich Brown of the main card sits nicely with the Ochre coat of arms design. The engraving of Hamilton Bank Note Company is of the highest quality. From the intricate lacy scroll of the country name, with its floral styled lettering that seem to have flower stamens shooting out like a hibiscus flower. Set on a background of sun rays and a symmetrical grill of rose working.
The coat of arms in the centre was selected to be used to represent ‘Central America’ on the 21st August 1923 following the signing of the Act of Independence. The 5 volcanoes representing the allegiance of the 5 countries that initially made up Central America. GUATEMALA, EL SALVADOR, NICARAGUA, COSTA RICA & HONDURAS. Above the central volcano on spear is the Liberty cap in triumph. At the base of the coat of arms are leaves of a potato plant (Solanum tuberosum) or some similar Solanaceae type plant like Capsicum (peppers). Below the leaves is the ribbon bearing the words Service Correo. Above the shield is a Sican headdress of feathers. The Sicans were precolombian inca Indians, the braves used feathers whilst the chief had his headdress made from gold.
The imprinted stamp is the type 7 UPU of 1890 showing the Locomotive and Telegraph Machine. Two important inventions, that opened up the world to Nicaragua. The design is surrounded by scrolls of acanthus leaves which lead upto the UPU and year, in the centre of which is the triangle again showing the volcanoes. The 5 volcanoes are also depicted in the corner of the card embellished by acanthus scrolls and ornate corner working, again in a very, stylised way. The borders are intricately worked all around, with the printers name boxed in and scroll worked at the bottom.
Nicaragua 3 Centavos Universal UPU 1891 Postcard Blue and Orange on Yellow.Printer Hamilton Bank Note Co. New York.
Again for the next year the UPU cards feature contrasting two tone colours on coloured card. This time the volcanoes appeared in the large loop of the ‘R’ in Republica. Atop of the R again we see the Sican headdress as before. The Ribbon scrolling around the capital ‘R’ is again telling us that this is a postal service card. Volcanoes again adorn the corners of the card in their triangle, but the styled engraving has moved up a step and is as ornate as you will see on any card. Again, reflecting an early art-deco style. The borders are worked in the same way as the 1890 card
The imprinted stamp this time is one of Ceres holding the wheat in her right hand but this time instead of a shield she is holding a triangular plate with the volcanoes and Liberty cap, she is seated and at her feet are food and fruits, to the left is a bee-hive, portraying Ceres again as mother earth, Goddess of the harvest. Again the imprint is pictured on a plaque with columns and acanthus. The Orange engraving reflects back to the postcard of El Salvador with the map of Columbus’ journey. Here it is a map of Nicaragua, showing its rivers and mountains and the route through from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. To digress for a moment, Nicaragua remains to this day a poor country unlike one of its close neighbours Panama. The reason for this is due to philately! When the USA was originally planning the canal to cross from one side to the other. The intended spot chosen was in Nicaragua, unfortunately Nicaragua issued a stamp in 1899 featuring a smoking volcano of Mount Momotombo. This is thought to have been artistic licence by the American Bank Note Company that engraved the stamp, as the volcano is not thought to have been active then. The US Senate voted that the area was too dangerous to build the canal and the canal moved to Panama. As fate would have it just prior to work starting on the Panama Canal Mount Momotombo erupted on March 31st 1902 and again in 1905. The Americans appeared to have justified their position on the canal and Nicaragua lost its biggest economic chance in history, all because of a stamp. The Nicaraguans tried to obliterate the smoke on the stamp issuing many overprints in themselves collectable for all their varieties, more on this issue can be seen at ... http://www.paperheritage.co.uk/articles/Nicaragua-Momotombo.html
Nicaragua 2 Centavos Universal UPU 1891 Postcard Green and Purple on Pink.Printer Hamilton Bank Note Co. New York.
Nicaragua 3 Centavos Universal UPU 1892 Postal reply paid card Red on Buff. CTO cancel of Corinto City Printer Hamilton Bank Note Co. New York.
The next card in the UPU series was that featuring the 1892 imprint type 8 ‘First sighting of the New World’ Columbus stamp. Again the card has ‘flouncy’ scripted capital letters but with more robust and cornered lettering. Scrolling leaves wrap across the country name. The imprint plaque shows Columbus and his crew gazing out at the new world as it comes over the horizon
Nicaragua 2 Centavos Interior UPU 1892 Postal reply paid card Blue on Buff. CTO cancel of Corinto City Printer not stated
Nicaragua 2 Centavos Interior UPU 1893 Postcard Blue and Pink on Pink. Printer possibly Hamilton Bank Note Co. New York.
Here we have a very Art-Deco styling to the postcard, the country name is encapsulated in a ornate steel-like surrounding, with scroll ends all with smooth or defined lines. No flowers or leaves are used at all. The background is all finely rose worked as we saw on the card from El Salvador earlier. Therefore likely to have been done by the Hamilton BNC. The imprinted stamp is type 9 of 1893 with all the symbolism we have seen before in a art-deco style plaque, even the ‘2’ are reapeated at the top of the frame in an artistic coin shape. The feathered crown sits above and is almost indistinct from those previously used. Acanthus leaves scroll around and up the columns.
Nicaragua 3 Centavos Universal UPU 1893 Postcard Blue and Light Blue on Pink. Printer possibly Hamilton Bank Note Co. New York.
Nicaragua 3 Centavos Universal UPU 1894 Postcard Blue and Green on Pink. Printer Hamilton Bank Note Co. New York.
For me the card that started this journey through Central America!! I purchased this one card for the Palms on it, for my flora collection, now 4 weeks on look where it got me!!! The palms beautifully offset the 5 volcanoes in the background. To show the narrow passable strait from the two waterways a sail ship passes by to the left and in the centre is a steamer going past. The sun rises behind the volcanoes and the rays radiate out into the card. The country name returns to its floral best and the ‘R’ is adorned with climbing flowering plants with tendrils wrapping around. These are the Vanilla Trumpet flower of Nicaragua, Distictis laxiflora. The borders are wheels of blue meeting in the corners with an art-deco style trumpet flower. The imprinted stamp is the type 10 Ceres of 1894, again with bee-hive and triangular shield of volcanoes.
Nicaragua 2 Centavos Interior UPU 1894 Postal Reply Card Red & Green on Blue. Printer Hamilton Bank Note Co. New York.
A difficult card to look at. The colours do not sit nicely on the eyes, but all the same its a card I like to look at, like its 3c sister above. This is a reply paid portion of a double card. The writing at the right hand side reads ‘Contestacion Pagada’ which nicely translates from Spanish as – a short retort or a piece of backchat!
Nicaragua 3 Centavos Universal UPU 1899 Postal Reply Card Brown on Buff-Green. Printer Hamilton Bank Note & Engraving Co. New York.
By the very end of the century the engraving was less elaborate throughout all the countries shown. This is shown somewhat by this card from Nicaragua of 1899. Instead of a flambouyant bank note type engraving we get a local country scene. The price of engraving had gone up in the United States and in part this is one reason why the level of detail in postal cards fell. The stamp depicts Peace with a shield, but without any noticeable picture on it. At her side is an Andean Condor, looking up at her, probably thinking is this my next meal! Peace is wearing a laurel wreath in her hair, to further signify peace. The words UPU and 1899 are held on two chargers which are not well engraved. The only other symbolism shown on the stamp are two wheels, these are native medicine wheels which are used to symbolise life, death, birth.
The Scene on the card is Peurto de Corinto, the Port of Corinto City The long port side buildings were for receiving trade from ships and for sending out exports to the world. Corinto was and still is a major port in the exportation of Nicaragua’s trade. Today it is a Cargo Port with a large Container terminal. Here we do see some sort of resemblance of the detail from previous postal cards in that the engraver has drawn the boats with great detail, sailors can be seen on them and the masts and rigging is very well drawn. In the far distance can be seen a white castle like building with its towers high above the palm trees lining the shore.