Article 36: Postal History of the Cuba First Issue Part 1

I came across this letter in the mid 1980s. The cover itself is of low quality: it bears a 1/2 Real 1855 on white paper, and has considerable tropical toning. The contents of the letter, however, as shown below, are very interesting. Here are quick links to the article dedicated to the lowest denomination of the 1855 printing, the 1/2 Real, a brief introduction to the series, which is now an issue section, the three sections of this article: Covers with the 1855 and 1856 Baeza postmarks, Covers with smaller postmarks of varying design, Covers from the 1860s with the small, and final postmarks, and a family letter from 1856 with a poignant and interesting tale.

In English, as best I could translate it:

Don Manuel Vicente de Urriola Veitia, Sir


Trinidad November 7, 1856.

My dear and appreciated friend: I am looking at your letter dated November 6, and after I acquainted myself of its content I have to tell you; that I left immediately in the afternoon of the other day with the objective of obtaining news about what you want to know, and I went to the store that until recently was owned by Ulpiano to speak with its current owner; he confided that Ulpiano left from this city to the village of Cienfuegos [trans. note: Port in the central Southern coast of Cuba] in July, and there boarded a ship to San Sebastian [trans. note: Spanish port]; and during which voyage it is said that two of the three children traveling with him died. [trans. note: this is a reminder to us of how perilous oceanic travel was in the 1850s] The current owner emphasized that poor Miguel did not leave behind a testament, and when he feared his death was near, called on Ulpiano to tell him that when this moment arrived, Ulpiano was to gather everything that was Miguel's property and to leave with it for Spain. This is what Ulpiano did. The current owner is not certain how much money Ulpiano left with, and estimates the amount at 12,000 pesos [trans. note: a very large amount of money, equivalent to $12,000 US 1856 dollars], and, in addition, there is the rumor that there was a spirit of "better fishing in muddy waters," and that upon Miguel's death because he was so good and trusting it is said that he had some money lent without documents and of course this money could not be claimed; and this is all I could find out. I celebrate that you are better about your health troubles and I hope you make progress in recovering of your gout: please receive good wishes from my wife and girls; you have me as your dear friend

Andres de Uria

In Spanish, as written (notice the faulty spelling common at the time):

Señor Don Manuel Vicente de Urriola Veitia

Trinidad Noviembre 7 de 1856.

Mi estimado y apreciable amigo: Tengo a la vista tu favorecida fechada 6 del que cursa y enterado de su contenido debo decirte; que immediatamente sali por la tarde del otro dia con el objetivo de tomar una noticia de lo que deseas saber, y me dirigi a la tienda que ultimamente tubo Ulpiano para hablar
con el que es su dueño hoy; de modo que habiendole interrogado en atencion a Ulpiano; me manifesto que este habia salido de esta ciudad para la villa de cinfuegos por el mes de julio, y que alli se embarco para San Sebastian; en cuyo transito se corre que murieron dos niños de los tres que llebava. En atencion a que si el desgraciado Miguel hizo una otra disposicion, te digo que ninguna, pues solamente cuando temio morirse; llamo a Ulpiano a decirle, que llegado que fuere, ese momento terrible, recogiera todo lo que conocia ser de su propiedad y marcharse para España; de manera que asi lo hizo Ulpiano. Por lo que hace ha cuanto llevo no puede decir con certeza; por que unos dicen que como 12,000 pesos, ademas que segun voz del pueblo, hubo aquello de rio rebuelto, ganancia de pescadores en el fallecimiento de Miguel por que el fue tan bueno y confiado que segun se dice tenia algun dinero dado sin documentos y esto por supuesto se perdio; es cuanto puedo enterarme en el particular.
Celebro mucho que estes bueno de tus males y que lo consigas tambien de esda maldita gorra: Recibes finas espreciones de mi esposa y niñas; disponiendo del buen afecto de tu verdadero amigo

Andres de Uria

Here is a small section of the letter for those who can read Spanish.
Here is the entire letter.
Articles for this country
Article 51: Cuba 1855 Havana Mails Issue ("I Griega") The first issue of the local mail of the city of Havana consists of four very rare stamps. I show here the two printed with the taller, thinner Y. The thicker Y issues, also printed in these two colors, are considerably scarcer. The overprint plate consisted of 7 top rows of thin Y stamps, and three bottom rows of thick Y stamps. The plate consists of 10 rows of 17 stamps. Quick links here are for a page showing side-by-side the three carmine red specimens and the single orange specimen I have that I consider genuine. Each of the specimens also has its own page that enables to show the overprint under higher magnification: carmine red specimen 1, pictured below, bears a Habana circular postmark, and there are also carmine red specimen 2, and carmine red specimen 3, as well as a dedicated page for the orange specimen pictured here. I also include a filtered image of the overprint, and a page dedicated to forgeries, one dangerous, and one crude.
Article 56: Cuba 1958 Poey Natural History Issue This commemorative issue is very appealing. It has beautiful depictions of butterflies and fish. I include here quick links to the series mint, and used-mostly CTO since this issue saw almost no genuine postal use.
Article 64: Cuba First Issue 1855-1863 2 Reales This is the highest value of the Cuba First Issue. Both 1855 printings were surcharged for the Havana local mails, as I have previously described in an article. Follow the links and thumbnails for each image below to a page for each printing of this value. This issue was superseded in 1864 by the Cuba Second Issue. Here are quick links to this article: the main page / 1855 First Printing: bluish paper, watermark loops / 1855 First Printing Blocks ( 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 ) / 1855 First Printing with forged postmark / 1855 Second Printing: white paper, watermark loops / 1855 Second Printing blocks ( 1 / 2 ) / 1855 Second Printing paper and watermark / 1856, watermark crossed lines / 1857 First Printing Orange, clean plate / 1857 Second Printing Rust Red, worn plate / 1857 Third Printing Rust Red, bleached plate / 1857 Third Plinting block of eight
Article 77: Cuba 1864 Issue Here I show the major values in blocks of four, the color varieties of the 1/2 real on salmon, 1/2 real on white, 1 real, and 2 reales. The 1/4 real was printed in a small run and seems to have just one color: black. I also show specimens cancelled with the regular canceller and other cancellers.
Article 87: Cuba Airmails from the 1940s and 1950s; the High Values Here is a comprehensive selection of the 50c Olive Green Cuba airmail, accompanied by a single cover of the scarcer 50c Blue, which was only intended to be used within Cuba, and two splendid covers with the 1 peso value. Quick links: main page, 50c Blue, 50c Olive Green covers: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 ; 1 peso covers: 1 / 2
Article 120: Cuba 1868 10 Centimos The 1868 10 centimos stamp is a one-year issue stamp. Quick links: images of the center design, details of the top and bottom legends.
Article 136: Cuba 1855-1863 Half Real I have previously shown the color varieties of the 1855 half real. I expand here by adding some larger images for the 1855 printings, and many more from the later printings, including many plate varieties. Quick links: main page / 1855 Blue Paper / 1855 White Paper / 1856 / 1857-61 Dirty Plate / Postal Forgeries / Plate Varieties main page : CORRFOS / CORRFOS detailed image / Early line breaks / Late line breaks / Plate Wear / 1862 Cleaned Plate
Article 187: Cuba Montreal Olympics of 1986 Issues Cuba issued two series for these olympics. The first series was issued before the event, and the second series was issued after the event, and highlights the athletes who medaled. Both series have sourvenir sheets.
Article 215: Cuba Napoleonic Art Stamps Looking at these stamps, it is clear that countries need to issue more large format art stamps. Quick links: first issue / second issue
Article 225: Cuba Orchid Stamps This series of orchid stamps was issued in 1971. These large-format stamps are beautiful.
Article 234: A sheet of the 5 centimos Cuba stamp from the 1890s This sheet of the 5 centimos Cuba definitive shows several interesting plate varieties. These stamps were likely remaindered after Spain lost Cuba as a colony in 1898. Quick links: main page / design details / plate varieties ( rows 1,2,3 / row 5 / row 6 / rows 7,8 )
Article 253: Cuba Train Commemoratives This issue depicts 19th century trains used in Cuba. Quick links: the stamps / the souvenir sheet
Article 267: Cuba Art Stamps This is a selection of Cuban art stamps from the late 1970s and early 1980s. Quick links: main page / 1981 issue / 1982 issue / souvenir sheets
Article 277: Cuba Christmas Stamps This is an uncommon issue mostly with butterflies, mollusks, and birds from Christmas 1961. Quick links: pane 1 (butterflies) / pane 2 (mollusks) / pane 3 (birds)
Article 290: Cuba Ship-building Stamps Naval construccion from the 17th century to the present is highlighted in these stamps from Cuba.
Article 309: Cuba Airmail low value uses from the 1940s and 1950s These stamps were in use during the 1940s and 1950s, and some during the 1930s. There are two series, one for internal air mail, and one for external air mail, although both series can be found used either way. Quick links: main page / 5c purple / 5c green and 8c brown / 10c black / 10c blue
Article 314: Cuba Airmail Issues of the 30s/40s/50s; the mid-values These stamps are somewhat uncommon on cover because they satisfied air mail rates to countries far from Cuba. Several exotic destinations are featured here. Quick links: Main Page / 15c Pink / 20c Brown / 20c Red / 20c Rose / 30c Purple / 40c Orange
Article 318: Cuba 1864 Half Real on Buff paper This is a relatively rare stamp. Most of these stamps were issued on white paper. This is a small selection showing a few minor, and one major plate variety. Quick links: specimens showing plate varieties / additional specimens
Article 326: Cuba Special Delivery Stamp from the 1930s/40s This rare stamp is represented here by seven used specimens and a specimen on a postcard. This stamp depicts an aeroplane from the earliest days of flight. Quick link: used stamps / a postcard
Article 343: Cuba; a look at the 1855 watermark This sample shows the watermark clearly. The two 2 real strips, remarkably, show the single row with the loops aligned top loop to bottom loop. Quick links: main page / half and one real specimens / two real specimens / a one real block / two 2 real strips
Article 369: Cuba 1890s Alfonso XIII (Pelon) Definitives Some of the last issues were remaindered in 1898 and can be found as large mint multiples. Quick links: 1890 / 1891 / 1894 / 1896 / 1897
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