Colombia - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Colombia, a country in northwestern South America bordered by Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, and the Caribbean Sea has a total land area of 440,831 square miles and a population close to 46 million. Colombia has five natural divisions – Andean Highlands, Caribbean Lowlands, Orinoquia Region, Pacific Region, and the Amazon region. Of these the Andean is the most populated region. It is also the zone with dramatic landscapes - mountains, high altitude plains, and varying vegetation. The growing industries of Colombia are textiles, coffee, oil, sugar cane, and food processing.

Travel Resources:

Travelers need to cautious about the conditions of Colombia and practice safety. December through March are considered tourist-friendly with December being the busiest. The major attractions of Colombia are San Agustin Archeological Park and the Gold Museum. Bogota, Cartagena, Medellin, and Cali are considered as ideal places for an introduction to the Colombian culture. Colombian cuisine can be an adventure in itself and is not for the faint-hearted. Ants, tortoise, cow’s and/or poultry intestines, and blood sausage are in that category.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Lonely Planet Colombia978-1741048278$18Good maps. Bogota coverage is excellent. Others lacking.
Colombia Travel Map978-1553411727$121:2,000,000 scale. One-sided.
Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw by Mark Bowden978-0142000953$11The book describes the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar, a ruthless drug-lord billionaire who was executed in 1993 following a massive man-hunt sponsored by the US government.
Universal International Travel Adapter PlugB0017K4CGK$4


Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Colombia were a set of eight stamps released in 1859. The set (Scott #1 to #8) has the Coat of Arms theme in single colors. Each stamp catalogs for upwards of $100 MNH and $50 used. The country was called Granadine Federation (1858-61) at the time and stamps from the period show that inscription. Some Tete beche pairs are known to exist and those catalog for upwards of $3500. The coat of arms them continued until 1877 when a new set of six stamps were issued in 1877. The set (Scott #73 to #79) catalogs for around $150 MNH and $90 used. The designs show the condor, Liberty Head, and a few Coat of Arms designs. The country was renamed as United States of Colombia by that time and the inscription shows as such. The country was named Republic of Colombia in 1885 and set of three stamps were released in 1886. The set (Scott #129 to #131) is remarkably inexpensive and catalogs for around $5 MNH and $2 used. The designs show Coat of Arms, Simon Bolivar, and President Rafael Nunez. Simon Bolivar along with Francisco de Paula Santander are regarded as the leaders of the rebellion which started in 1810 to gain independence from Spain. President Rafael Nunez was President of Colombia for two terms starting in 1880 and was responsible for the new Constitution of Colombia in 1886.

Colombia released a long set of twelve stamps in 1902 showing local scenes. The set (Scott #194 to #205) catalogs for around $170 MNH or used. The set is imperforate but there is a variety with sewing machine perforations. That set catalogs for around double the imperforate set. The designs show Magdalena River, Iron Quay at Sabanilla, and La Popa Hill in Cartagena. The Magdalena River is Colombia’s main river stretching 950 miles.

Colombia released a set of twelve stamps in 1917 to mark the centenary of Colombia independence from Spain. The set (Scott #339 to #350) catalogs for around $100 MNH and $20 used. The designs show Colombian patriots, monument to Battle of Boyaca, view of Cartagena, and Coat of Arms. The patriots represented are Caldas, Torres, Narino, Santander, Cordoba, Sucre, Cuervo, and Lozano. The Battle of Boyaca was the pivotal battle that ended in the defeat of Spanish Royalist forces. This led to the start of autonomous government in the Spanish provinces and the independence of Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador and the creation of Bolivia.

Other issues of Colombia enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A set of six stamps released in 1932 in the industry theme. The set (Scott #411 to #416) catalogs for around $15 MNH and $2 used. The designs show Emerald Mine, oil wells, coffee cultivation, platinum mine, gold mining, and a portrait of Christopher Columbus.
  2. A long set of sixteen stamps released on January 26, 1935 to mark the third National Olympiad in Barranquilla. The set (Scott #421 to #436) catalogs for around $1000 MNH and $850 used. The designs show soccer, discus thrower, Allegory of the Olympiad, foot race, tennis, hurdling, pier at Puerto Colombia, athlete in Stadium, baseball, view of the Bay, baseball, swimming, vew of Barranquilla, monument to flag, Coat of Arms, condor, and Post & Telegraph building. The National Olympic Committee for Colombia was created the following year and recognized by the International Olympic Committee in 1948. This set was followed in 1937 by a short set of three stamps in the same theme to mark the National Olympiad in Manizales that year. That set is also fairly valuable at around $32 MNH and $26 used.
  3. A set of ten stamps released on May 6, 1940 to mark the first centenary of the Death of General Francisco Santander, the independence war hero who went on to become the President of the Republic of the Nueva Granada. The set (Scott #475 to #484) catalogs for around $85 MNH or used. The designs show portrait of General Santander, Allegory, head of Santander, statue of Cucuta, birthplace of Santander, church at Rosario, Paya, bridge at Boyaca, death of General Santander, and invasion of the Liberators.
  4. A set of twenty two stamps released in 1956 showing local scenes classified as a departmental issue. The set (Scott #644 to #665) catalogs for around $30 MNH and $10 used. The designs show docks of Atlantico, industry at Antioquia, Cartagena Harbor at Bolivar, map, view of San Andres Harbor, steel mill of Boyaca, cattle of Cordoba, San Andres Harbor, cacao picker of Cauca, coffee picker of Caldas, Salt Mine Chapel, tropical plants and map of Choco, harvester of Huila, banana plantation of Magdalena, gold mining at Narifio, tobacco plantation of Santander, oil wells of North Santander, cotton plantation of Tolima, sugar industry of Cauca, Amazon river at Leticia, windmills and panoramic view of La Guajira, and rubber plantations of Vaupes.
  5. A block of thirty stamps (Scott #879a-z) released on April 25, 1980 in the “Learn to Write” theme. The designs show a letter of the alphabet and corresponding animal or subject. The set catalogs for around $25 MNH or used.
  6. A set of four stamps released on August 24, 1991 in the Pre-Columbian Artifacts theme. The set (Scott #1032 to #1035) catalogs for around $4 MNH and a dollar for Used. The designs show statue of cat god, pitcher from tomb of high official, statue with two heads, and flying fish.
Numismatic Profile:

Colombia used the Spanish colonial real until 1820. Following independence, coins were minted specifically for Colombia and in 1837, the peso became the primary denomination for coins. Certain regional issues from Popayan, Santa Marta, Cartagena, and Cundinamarca also exist. United Provinces of Nueva Granada also had countermarked coinage from 1820 to 1837. Colombia has a long history of producing gold coins dating back to the 18th century.

Numismatic items of Colombia include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Gold Coins$200 and up19th century Escudos start around $200 in VF. 1968 Pope Paul Proofs start well into the 100s and go into the 1000s.
Other Coins$2 and upCentavos from the 1960s and 1970s in UNC start around $2. Off-center errors from the 1950s onwards in VF start around $20. Certified silver coins from the 1950s and prior dates in MS63 or better start around $50. Large silver proofs from the 1970s in UNC, UNCs from the mid-nineteenth century, etc go well into the 100s.
Paper Money$2 and upCommon UNCs from the 1980s onward start around $2. 19th century UNCs start around $20. Bundles, Specimens, Early Large Notes in UNCs, etc start around $50 and go into the 100s.


Collectible Memorabilia:

Coffee, chocolate, jewelry, handicrafts, leather and silver are popular buys. Art, and antiques to satisfy serious collectors are also available.



ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Jewelry$15 and upLab created Emerald jewelry start around $15. Certified Natural Emerald less than a carat start around $100 and can go into the 1000s depending on clarity and color.
Antiques$10 and up19th century map prints start around $10. Originals start around $50. Pre-Columbian earthenware start around $100.
Art$5 and upSimple Molas Kunas (traditional costume cloth with patterns that are handmade using a reverse appliqué techinique) start around $5. Paintings by well-known artists like Gerardo Caballero, Luis Fernando Rodriguez, Samuel Reuda, Beatriz Gonzalez, Enrique Grau, Alejandro Obrego, etc go well into the 100s.



Last Updated: 12/2015.

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