Collecting stamps from Puerto Rico

Collecting postage stamps from Puerto Rico offers an intriguing exploration of the island’s postal history, influenced by its colonial past and current status as a U.S. territory. Here’s a guide to collecting stamps from Puerto Rico:

Historical Context

Puerto Rico’s philatelic history can be divided into several periods: Spanish colonial period, U.S. military government period, and the period as a U.S. territory.

Key Periods and Notable Stamps

  • Spanish Colonial Period (1873-1898)
    Early Issues:
    Design: Stamps featured the likeness of Spanish monarchs and were inscribed “ULTRAMAR,” indicating their use in overseas territories.
  • Notable Stamps: The 1873 series featuring King Amadeo I and the 1893 series commemorating Columbus’ discovery of the New World.- **Puerto Rico Overprints:
    Design: Stamps of Spain overprinted with “Puerto Rico.”
  • Notable Stamps: The 1876-1898 overprints on various Spanish stamps.

U.S. Military Government Period (1898-1900)

  • Overprinted U.S. Stamps:
    Design: U.S. stamps overprinted with “PORTO RICO” to denote their use in the new American possession.
    Notable Stamps: The 1899 series of U.S. stamps overprinted with “PORTO RICO.”

U.S. Territory Period (1900-Present)

  • Regular U.S. Stamps:
    Design: After 1900, standard U.S. postage stamps were used in Puerto Rico without any specific overprints.
  • Collectibility: While there are no unique stamps for Puerto Rico in this period, collectors often seek out covers and postmarks from Puerto Rican towns.

Commemorative Issues and Special Series

  • Design: Some U.S. commemorative stamps have featured Puerto Rican themes, such as notable figures, historical events, and cultural icons.
  • Notable Stamps: The 1937 “Puerto Rico Election Issue,” the 1985 stamp featuring Roberto Clemente, and various stamps in the “Flags of Our Nation” series.

Collecting Tips

  • Focus Areas
    Specific Periods:
    Collect stamps from distinct historical periods, such as the Spanish colonial era, the U.S. military government period, or modern U.S. stamps used in Puerto Rico.
  • Themes:
    Focus on themes like notable Puerto Rican figures, cultural heritage, and significant historical events.
  • Covers and Postmarks:
    Collecting covers (envelopes with stamps and postmarks) from Puerto Rican towns can add a layer of historical and postal significance to your collection.

Notable Collecting Categories

  • Spanish Colonial Stamps:
    Collecting these provides a window into Puerto Rico’s colonial past and its relationship with Spain.
  • U.S. Overprints:
    These stamps are historically significant as they mark the transition of Puerto Rico from Spanish to American control.
  • Commemorative Issues:
    Focus on U.S. commemorative stamps that highlight Puerto Rican themes and important cultural or historical figures.
  • Postmarks and Covers:
    Collecting postmarked covers from Puerto Rican towns offers insights into the postal history and geographical distribution of postal services on the island.


Collecting postage stamps from Puerto Rico is a rewarding endeavor that offers a rich blend of historical context, cultural heritage, and postal history. Whether you focus on Spanish colonial issues, U.S. overprints, or modern commemoratives, Puerto Rico’s philatelic history provides a diverse and fascinating collecting experience. By focusing on quality, authenticity, and careful preservation, you can build a valuable and enjoyable collection of stamps from Puerto Rico.