The Quintessential Quetzal

Mel West states – “I wrote and then assembled this series of articles for two reasons. Firstly, because after originally writing about Guatemalan Quetzal issues in a couple of editions of Flight magazine (See: “A Quandary of Quetzals”), there still remained a feeling of dissatisfaction, of having only just skimmed the surface about this intriguing bird and the plethora of Guatemalan stamps on which it is depicted”.

I undertook a count of all the stamps I was familiar with that had a Quetzal in some form or other and came up with 354. It’s probably an under-estimate, but suggests about 20% of all Guatemalan stamps issued between their first stamps in 1871 and then 2016 when postal issuance sadly ceased altogether. Okay, it’s the national bird and it forms part of the coat of arms, but that is still a lot of bird for one country. With my two articles I had just plucked a few feathers, and there was clearly a lot more to say about other issues.

The second reason for putting these articles together was quite selfish. It was a learning curve experience and huge fun. I enjoyed researching the material and I then wanted to share it. I had withdrawal symptoms after I stopped writing them. None of these articles would have been possible without the resources of the International Society of Guatemala Collectors. Their handbooks and library are a wonderful treasure trove if you are interested in Guatemalan stamps generally, as I am, or just in the Quetzal issues themselves. The Quintessential Quetzal series is dedicated to the ISGC.

No.1 – Quetzalitos This is a re-examination of the “new classics” that were issued between 1954 and 1987. It goes into greater depth than the original Flight article managed, and looks at some of the wider problems related to these issues. View here

No.2 – The Flying Quetzals Whilst not overly complex, these charming slim format stamps issued in 1935 and again in 1939 give you a lot for your money and yet can still be quite challenging to actually collect. This article hopefully gives you an in-depth overview. View here

No.3 – Arms & the Bird There are so many more Quetzals on Guatemalan stamps where they are depicted as part of the national coat of arms. This article looks specifically at the Waterlow and Perkins Bacon issues between 1902 and 1926 where the coat of arms offers further rich sources of complexity.  View here

No.4 – Arms & the Bird Again Something of a mixed bag, this is intended as a continuation of material begun in the third article and still looks at where the national seal is prominently used. Specifically, it examines the use of the arms on fiscal and official issues as well as the arms airmail issues of the mid-sixties. View here

No.5 – The incidental Quetzal There are a large number of Guatemalan stamps where the Quetzal plays just a minor supporting role. A bit part. There are lots of examples to choose from but some are not straightforward. Whilst certainly not the most attractive Quetzal stamps, the Red Cross and Mexico Olympic series are – despite their average designs – worthy of further examination. View here

No.6 – More Incidental Quetzals Well, I did say there were a large number of bit player roles for the Quetzal. This last article in the series looks at some of the older and more traditional designs where the bird pops up supporting dictators, revolutions, a national poet, and even Rowland Hill. View here

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