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PAQ 48

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Certified Letter

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Administrative Notifications

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  • Issue date: 22/10/2004
  • Printing Process: Huecograbado
  • Paper: estucado engomado fosforescente
  • Size of stamp: 40,9 x 28,8 mm.(horizontal)
  • Sheet effects: 50
  • Postal value of the stamps: 0,77 €
  • Print run: 1.000.000
  • Dented: 13 3/4

The series entitled Día del sello (Stamp Day) is this year dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the very first letter to be sent by registered mail.


In the summer of 1999, while doing some research into carriage costs at the Historical Municipal Archive in Leon, Fernando Alonso discovered the registered letter that is now regarded as the first in the world. It was sent on 23 November 1604 by the Council of the City State of Valladolid, addressed to the City of Leon. The letter was received at the Leon Consistory on 3 December 1604, and was found to contain an order from the Council, calling on the City of Leon and the surrounding province to pay the sisas , a tax on items of food. The cover of the letter includes handwritten lines in the form of a cross, four in one direction and three in the other, unmistakeably indicating that it was sent as a registered despatch. It also includes the word cerfon , an abbreviation of certificación (certification) and the signature of the Senior Messenger of the State of Tassis (Juan de Tassis y Peralta). This important discovery indicated that registered mail had been used for more than half a century longer than originally thought, since until that time a royal document sent by Philip IV on 14 December 1657 had been regarded as the oldest item of registered mail in the world. This later letter differs slightly in that the handwritten cross features twice, with four lines in each direction, the word certificación is abbreviated to ceron and the inscription amadrid is also included. It was addressed to the Court and Chancellery of Valladolid. Fernando Alonso García was born in Astorga in 1937. He is a Doctor of Engineering, and has been engaged in historical research for a number of years. Author of El correo en el renacimiento europeo (The postal service in Renaissance Europe), León en la historia postal (León and the history of the postal service), León en la cartografía histórica (León and the history of cartography) and Porteos y Cartografía en la prefilatelia española (Carriage costs and cartography in pre-philatelic Spain), his recent discovery has opened up a new line of research and study relating to the history of the postal service. This stamp shows the registered letter of 1604, which was exhibited at the World Philatelic Exhibition in Madrid in 2000, and again in Valencia in 2004.

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