Bolivia - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile


Bolivia a small land-locked country in South America, bounded by Chile and Peru to the West, Brazil to the North and East, Argentina and Paraguay to the South, is named after Independence leader Simon Bolivar. The plurinational state of Bolivia has a total land area of around 425,000 square miles and a population just below ten million making it a sparsely populated country at around 23 per square mile. Bolivia is rich in natural resources but it is still one of the least developed countries in South America. It per-capita GDP (ppp) stands at around $4300. 2005 saw a significant shift in Bolivia’s political climate with the election of Socialism leader Evo Morales and his re-election in a landslide victory in 2009.

Travel Resources:

Bolivia consists of the western highlands in the Andes Mountains and the eastern lowlands with large areas of Amazonian rain-forests and the Chaco Plain. The dry season that runs from May to October is generally the time travelers visit. As the salt desert can flood from December to March it is recommended to bypass that time-frame. Moreover, because of the altitude Bilivia is recommended for the physically fit. Bolivia has many attractions for a visitor. La Paz, the world’s highest capital atop the Andes, is the most popular place to visit with Lake Titicaca, Copacabana, and Tiahuanaco in its vicinity. Other places of interest are the Uyuni (salt desert), Santa Cruz, Sucre, and Potasi.  Bolivian cuisine is mostly lightly spiced but the meals are heavy on the pork, llama meat and potatoes.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Lonely Planet Bolivia978-1741049985$18Introduction followed by great region-wise coverage. The best sites are explained in great detail. Good maps including trekking routes.
Bolivia in Focus: A Guide to the People, Politics, and Culture978-1566562997$13Covers land and people, history, culture, economy, politics, society, and must see landmarks and historical sites. Western Bolivia focus.
Bolivia Travel Map978-1553411376$131:1,250,000 scale. Includes insets with central La Paz and Potosa. Legend includes national parks, and points of interest. Roads to trails marked.
Bolivia Grounded Adapter Plug Kit – GUA and GUBB001FD7CES$15


Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Bolivia were a set (Scott #1 to #8) of eight in single color Imperfs showing the Andes Condor released in 1867. Several varieties and types of these early issues exist. The stamps catalog for between $5 and $400 with the lower denominations cataloging lower and progressively getting higher. The most valuable is the 50c blue and the dark blue variety which catalog for around $400 MNH and $100 used. Reprints of many of these issues also exist and are more common with catalog values in the $5 to $25 range. Pen cancellations (fiscal use) are also common with catalog values in the $1 to $60 range. This was followed by a few other issues in the Coat of Arms and Arms and the Law themes. Those issues dominated the scene until 1896. Many of those stamps are also very valuable with catalog values in the dollar range for lower denominations to around $150. One exception is the 500c black Coat of Arms Issue (Scott #19) which is valued at over $2000 for MNH or used (Eleven Star watermark variety – the Nine Star variety fetch about one-third this amount). Other significant Bolivian issues from the classic period (till 1940) include:
  1. A set of eight stamps released in 1897 in the Patriots, Generals, and Coat of Arms theme. The set (Scott #47 to #54) catalogs for around $60 MNH or used. The patriots and generals of Bolivia represented are President Tomas Frias, President Jose M. Linares, Pedro Domingo Murillo, Bernardo Monteagudo, General Jose Ballivian, General Antonio Jose de Sucre, and Simon Bolivar. These issues are affordable and catalogs for between a dollar and $6. Genuine vertical imperf pairs exist for Scott #47 and #51 and they catalog in the $75 range. The most valuable issue in the set is the mult-colored Coat of Arms stamp (Scott #54) at around $40 MNH and $50 used. Acquiring a genuine one will involve some work as excellent forgeries exist.
  2. A set of six stamps released in 1916 in the Nature and Architecture themes. The set (Scott #111 to #116) uses a bi-color design in the classic keytypes mold. Monolith of Tiahuanacu (a statue found in the mysterious prehistoric city of Tiahuanaco that has an inferred date of 12,000 BC), Mount Huayna Potosi, Lake Titicaca (largest lake in South America by volume of water located at the Peruvian border - over 200 cubic miles, over 3000 square miles surface area), Mount Illimani, and Legislative Building.
  3. A set of two triangular-shaped stamps released in 1931 to mark the revolution of June 25, 1930 that resulted in General Carlos Blanco Galinda's military Junta taking over power. The set (Scott #205 and #206) is inexpensive at around $3 MNH and a dollar for used. Imperf pairs exist which fetch a premium ($15 to $20). The issue is significant in that it marks the beginning of Bolivia's transformation from laissez-faire policies that ignored the needs of the majority native population.
  4. A set of nine stamps released in 1938 in the Industries theme. The set (Scott #242 to #250) catalogs for around $15 MNH and around $4 for used. The design uses conservative single-colors and the depictions are: native school, oil wells, modern factories, Torch of Knowledge, map of Sucre-Camiri Railroad, Allegory of Free Eduction, Alligorical Figure of Learning, symbols of industry, and modern agriculture. This is another important issue that marks Bolivia's early attempt at political transformation.
The first stamp of Bolivia after the classic period was the “Flags of 21 American Republics” to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Pan American Union. The stamp (Scott #269) is a beautiful multi-colored issue and is remarkably inexpensive at around $2 MNH and a dollar for used. The issue is significant in Bolivia has a significant claim to the formation of the Union - Simon Bolivar conceptualized such an organization aimed at regional solidarity at the 1826 Congress of Panama as early as 1826 although the formation of it took another 64 years. Other significant issues since the classic period include:
  1. A set of seven stamps released in October 1942 to mark the first school philatelic exposition held in La Paz the previous year. The set uses a single color multiple-stamp-on-stamp design. The stamps depicted are Bolivia's first postage stamp and the airmail stamp of 1941. The set (Scott #274 to #280) catalogs for around $20 MNH and around $15 used.
  2. A set of fourteen stamps released on July 1, 1951 to commemorate the fifth athletic championship matches held at La Paz in October 1948. The beautiful set (Scott #352 to #358 and #C150 to #C156) catalogs for around $8 MNH and $6 used. The sports depicted are boxing, tennis, diving, soccer, skiing, and handball on the regular issues and horsemanship, basketball, fencing, hurdling, javelin throwing, relay race, and La Paz Stadium on the airmail variants.
  3. A beautiful set of ten stamps issues on April 24, 1970 in the Butterflies theme. The set (Scott #521 to #525 and C302 to C306) which uses a single-color background and butterflies in original colors catalogs for around $25 MNH or used. The butterflies depicted are papilio crassus, catagramma cynosura, eunica eurota flora, and ituna phenarete in the regular issues and metamorpha dido wernichei, heliconius felix, morpho casica, pailio yuracares, and heliconius melitus in the airmail variants.
  4. A beautiful Parrots set of eight stamps released on May 11, 1981. The set (Scott #661 to #668) catalogs for around $15 MNH and around $5 Used. The parrots depicted are ara macao (scarlet macaw), ara chloroptera, ara ararauna, ara rubrogenys, ara auricollis, anodorynchus hyacinthinus, ara militaris, and ara severa.
  5. Three sets of stamps released in 1997 in the Tourism theme. The sets (Scott #983 to #988, #989 to #994, and #995 to #1000) together catalog for around $30 MNH and a little less for used. The designs show Miners' Monument, Folklore Costume, Virgin of Socavon, Sajama Mountains, Chipaya Child, and Raul Shaw Moreno in the first set (Tourism in Oruro theme), La Glorieta, Governor's Palace, Dinosaur Tracks, House of Liberty, Tarabaqueno, and Statue of Juana Azurduy of Padilla in the second set (Tourism in Chuquisaca), and House of Culture Dorada, Church of Entre Rios, San Luis Falls, Monument to the Chaco War, Temple and Statue of the Virgin Mary Chaguay, and Eustaquio Mendez House in the third set (Tourism in Tarija theme).
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins were produced by the mint in the Imperial City of Potosi following the discovery of the world’s richest silver mine in the area in 1574. The first type was a cob with the Hapsburg arms in Obverse and Cross with Quartered Castles and Lions in Reverse. The Cob types continued through the 18th century until milled pillars and bust pieces were introduced in 1767. Milled coinage with Charles IIII and others in Obverse continued the time of independence in 1825. Republican coinage era (Sol or Scudo Coinage) with a new monetary system (8 Soles = 1 Peso, 16 Soles = 1 Scudo) was introduced following independence and that period continued through 1870 when Reform Coinage denominated in Centavos appeared.

Numismatic items of Bolivia include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$2 and upCommon coins in UNC from the 1950s and prior dates start around $2. 18th century Carlos IIII silver coins start around $30 in F. Crude Potosi Cobs start around $50. Cobs with rare assayer marks, early error varieties etc start around $100. Gold proofs such as the 1979 Republic of Bolivia 4000 Pesos, UNICEF Year of the Child Proofs, etc go well into the 100s.
Exonumia$15 and upCochabamba tokens in UNC start around $15. Commemorative tokens in bronze from the mid-19th century start around $25. 1865 Potosi Campaign Medals, Bolivia centenary silver shields etc start around $100.
Paper Money$1 and upCommon UNCs from the 60s and prior dates start around $1. Z Replacements and Error Varieties from the 60s and prior dates start around $20. Specimen issues from the 80s and prior dates start around $50. UNC bundles from the 60s and prior dates start around $100.


Collectible Memorabilia:

Tarabuco's (near Sucre) traditional fabrics are one of Bolivia's great souvenirs. Other items are minerals, art and antiques.


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Mineral Samples$10 and upSmaller samples of Sulfur, Jamesonite, Stannite, etc start around $10. Prices go into the 100s for bigger samples or precious and semi-precious samples like amethyst, ametrine, and vivianite.
Art$5 and upPrints of old photos showing local scenes in La Paz and such start around $5. 19th century antique maps and original oil paintings fetch into the 100s.
Antiques$100 and upAndes Indian sash belts and such start around $100, Quenua Indian and other Ponchos a little more. Original Indian rugs and blankets fetch even more.


Last Updated: 12/2015. 




    1 comment :

    Virginia said...

    This is a very interesting of the history of some of the stamps from Bolivia. I am selling a collection of stamps from Bolivia. This collection has been awarded several prices in philatelic forums and shows in several countries including Spain. If interested please contact me via email at: mvirginiaweber@gmail.com

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