Classical and modern Mexico stamps reflect the indigenous and colonial history of this very large North American nation. The name "Mēxihco" was derived from a combination of Nahuatl words, loosely meaning "Place at the Center of the Moon". At the time of the arrival of the Spanish, this word was the name of the valley, where the Aztec capitol of Teotihuacan was located. The Spanish conquerors spelled the word as "México", or the more phonetic "Méjico", which was actually used as the name of the 19th Century nation on classical Mexico stamps.
Before the arrival of the Spanish, at the beginning of the 16th Century, the area we know as Mexico, was host to a number of advanced Pre-Columbian civilizations, such as the Olmec, Toltec, Teotihuacan, Zapotec, Maya, and Aztec. The largest and most prevalent of these was the Aztec Empire, with it's capitol at Teotihuacan in the Valley of Mēxihco.
The populations of these Pre-Columbian civilizations, along with their languages and some of their cultural practices, would eventually be assimilated into the Spanish population. Their descendants, referred to as "Mestizos", continue to thrive, as an important element of modern-day "Mexican" culture, to this day.
A Spanish military expedition, led by Hernán Cortés (1485-1547), defeated the Aztec Empire in 1521, seizing their capitol city of Teotihuacan. An attempt was made to raze Teotihuacan, and the new Spanish colonial capitol was built on the site. The new colonial capitol was named after the valley around the site. It was called Mexico City.
The new North American colony was called New Spain, with Mexico City as its capitol. New Spain, at its height, was the largest colony on the Earth, stretching from Florida and the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean, from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, and from the Isthmus of Panama to what would eventually be the Canadian border.
Independence movements and military conflicts with the other colonial empires would eventually cause the loss of much of the territory of New Spain, leaving what we know today as the nation of Mexico.
The classical stamps of Mexico are very popular with philatelists around the World.
The plates for the first stamps of Mexico were made in the same manner as those of the contemporary postage stamp issues of the United States. That is, the plates were laid down by hand. With frequent re-cutting of the plate positions and their variable alignment, this resulted in the impressions on the plate being slightly different from each other. This has enabled modern philatelists to be able to reconstruct the plates from mint or used condition single stamps.
Classical Mexico stamps were overprinted with the name of the postal district in which the post office was located. At the time the first Mexican postage stamps were issued, there were approximately 50 of these postal districts. That means that there might be up to 50 collectible district overprint variations for many of the classical stamps of Mexico.
Adding proofs, shades, paper and printing varieties, postal history, reprints, known forgeries etc. definitely makes classical Mexican philately a life-long project.
Even the more modern definitive Mexican stamps, with all their perforation and watermark varieties, can be a challenging venture for the Mexican philatelist.
Mexican Girl and
Amelia Earhart Goodwill
Commemorative Mexican stamps first appeared in 1910. Two of the "gems" of the commemorative stamps of Mexico are shown above. With the exception of the two stamps shown above, the majority of the commemorative stamps of Mexico are not unreasonably expensive. They reflect over 1,000 years of history, and they can provide countless hours of enjoyment for both the casual collector and the specialist.
Links to historical articles and reviews of many of the individual classical and early modern postage stamp issues of Mexico will eventually appear at the top of the third column of this page.
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