Chile - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Chile is a country in South America covering a long (4000 miles) narrow (110 miles average) stretch of land bordered by Peru, Bolivia. Chile covers a land area of a little less than 300,000 square miles with a population of over 17 million people making it a sparsely populated country at around 22 per square mile. Human presence dates back 10,000 years when Native Americans began settling in the fertile areas. Chile is one of the wealthiest countries in South America with a GDP (ppp) of over $14,000. Chilean economy is primarily focused on foreign trade with copper at the top of the ladder followed by wine, forestry and wood products, fresh fruit and processed food. Chileans enjoy a private pension system.


Travel Resources:

The area enjoys Mediterranean climate with the driest desert on earth to the North (Atacama) and rainy temperate climate to the South. The best time to visit Chile is October through March for it seldom rains then and humidity is low. The attractions of Chile are many and please all palettes – be it a thirst for natural beauty, historical or cultural quest or adventure -driven. The Attacama desert lures all - the honeymooners, poets and the adventure minded. Easter Island, Villarrica Volcano, Casablanca Valley, Miloden Cave, and Torre del Paine National Park.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Chile and Easter Island Eyewitness Travel Guide978-0756669515$16Region-wise coverage with full-color detailed maps and beautifully illustrations!
Lonely Planet Chile and Easter Island978-1741047790$18An introduction followed by region-wise coverage. Lot of material but not enough pictures and maps.
Laminated Chile Map by Borch978-3866093959$111:2,000,000 scale. Inset maps of Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, Vina del Mar, La Serena, Valparaiso, Santiago, Isla Robinson Crusoe, Rapa Nui Easter Island, Torres del Paine National Park, and Punta Arenas.
Chile Grounded Adapter PlugB001FD4PHA$8


Philatelic Profile:

The first Chile stamps, a set of two stamps printed in London, showed a portrait of Christopher Columbus released in 1853. The stamps (Scott #1 and #2) catalogs for around $800 MNH and around $200 for used. Many varieties exist with vertical, diagonal, and horizontal halves of the 10c stamp used as 5c on cover. Santiago prints of the same design appeared the next year and varieties of the same issue in different single colors dominated Chile stamps through 1865. Many of those issues (Scott #3 to #14) are in the hundreds of dollars while some can be had for as little as $5 (fiscal cancellations). Certain error water marks are in the thousands territory as well. The Columbus theme in different designs continued all through the century. Many short and long sets along with certain overprints were issued during the period. Chief among them was a set of twelve stamps (Scott #25 to #36) released in the 1878-79 time-frame in two different designs. The set catalogs for around $100 MNH and $40 used.

The first Chile stamps outside the Columbus theme was a set of ten stamps (Scott #58 to #76) released in 1904. The set consists of telegraph stamps overprinted and/or surcharged in black. It consists of two designs – one showing Pedro de Valdivia and the other Coat of Arms. The Coat of Arms design comes in two different types – one with the animal on the left of the design showing a mane and tail and the other showing neither mane nor tail. The set catalogs for around $65 MNH and $55 used. Certain overprints on Columbus issues resumed and they dominated the Chilean stamp issues till around 1910 when they issued a set of stamps (Scott #83 to #97) as their independence centenary issue. The designs show oath of independence, Battle of Chacabuco, Battle of Roble, Battle of Maipu, Naval Engagement of Lautaro and Esmeralda, capturing the Maia Isabel, first sortie of liberating forces, abdication of O’Higgins, Chile’s First Congress, monument to O’Higgins, monument to Jose M. Carrera, monument to San Martin, General Jose Ignacio Zenteno, Admiral Lord Thomas Cochrane, and General Manuel Blanco Encalada. A set of fifteen stamps (Scott #98 to #112) showing great men soon followed in 1911. The designs show Columbus, De Valdivia, Mateo de Toro Zambrano, Bernardo O’Higgins, Ramon Freire, F.A. Pinto, Joaquin Prieto, Manuel Bulnes, Manuel Montt, Jose Joaquin, Federico Errazuriz Zanartu, Jose de Balmaceda, Anibal Pinto, Domingo Santa Maria, and Federico Errazuriz Echaurren. The set catalogs for around $120 MNH. The used set is very affordable at under $20. The Great Men theme in Chile stamps continued until 1936 with only a few other issues in other themes. A set of twelve stamps (Scott #186 to #197) showing local scenes was issued in 1936 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of Chile by Diego de Almagro. The set catalogs for around $20 MNH and $10 used. The designs show Atacama Desert, fishing boats, coquito palms, sheep, mining, lonquimay forest, Colliery at Port Lota, shipping at Valparaiso, Puntiagudo volcano, Diego de Almagro, cattle, and mining saltpeter. A sister set in the industrial theme soon followed in 1938. That set (Scott #198 to #209) is very affordable at around $4 MNH and $3 for used. It features Laja waterfall, agriculture, boldo tree, nitrate industry, mineral spas, copper mine, mining, fishing in Chiloe, Osorno volcano, mercantile marine, Lake Villarrica, and state railways.

Below are other relevant Chile stamps over the years:
  1. A set of six stamps (Scott #331 to #336) released in 1960 to mark the 150th anniversary for the formation of the first National government. The set catalogs for around $5 MNH and around half that for used. The themes show a beautiful Arms of Chile design and Jose M. Carrera.
  2. A set of twelve stamps (Scott #461 to #462) released in 1975 to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the training frigate Lautaro. The set catalogs for around $10 MNH and $4 used.
  3. A set of four stamps (Scott #679 to #682) released in July 1985 in the Endangered Species theme. The set catalogs for around $25 MNH and $4 for used. The used set in a block of four commands a higher premium at around $12. The designs show chinchilla, blue whale, sea lions, and Chilean huemuls. A block of four stamps (Scott #693a-d) soon followed in the endangered wildlife theme. The set catalogs for around $10 MNH and $4 Used. The designs show canis fulvipes, phoenicoparrus jamesi, fulica gigantea, and lutra provocax.
  4. A sheet of four stamps (Scott #1185a-d) released in September 1996 in the Ecotourism in National Parks theme. The set catalogs for around $2 MNH or used. The designs show river rafting, horseback riding, snow skiing, and hiking around cacti.

Numismatic Profile:

Chile started minting its own coins in 1750 following permission from Spain. Following the proclamation of independence in 1810, Chile’s republican era coinage started with the introduction of Silver Pesos in 1817. The issue is valuable cataloging the $1500 range for XF. Gold coins of Chile are a popular collectible theme.

Numismatic items of Chile include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$1 and upRecent UNCs start around $1. Bi-metal UNCs from the 2000s, early 20th century silver coins in UNC, etc start around $10. Silver Pesos in VF from the 19th century start around $50. Gold coins go well into the 100s and 1000s depending on bullion value, mintage, and rarity.
Paper Money$1 and upCommon UNCs from the 60s onward starts around $1. Recent replacements, polymers etc start around $15. Specimens go into the 100s.



Collectible Memorabilia:

Chilean handicrafts worth musing over include knitwear, and those in silver, leather and wood. Good selection of lapis lazuli a blue stone unique to Chile can be found in gold or silver. Art and antiques are also popular.


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Art$5 and upPrints and posters showing old local scenes start around $5. Paintings by well-known artists like Roberta Matta, Mario Carreno, Nemesio Antunez, Enrique Zanartu, Joseph Tamargo, Rodolfo Salazar, etc go into the 1000s.
Antiques$10 and up19th century maritime maps start around $10. Authentic maps from the 18th and 17th centuries go into the 100s.


Last Updated: 12/2015. 

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