Spain - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Spain, a country located in Southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula bordered by Gibraltar, France, Andorra, Portugal, Bay of Biscay, Mediterranean Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean has a total land area of 195,364 square miles and a population of over 46 million. Spain is a mountainous country with high plateaus. It is classified as a developed country with very high standards of living. Its economy however, double dipped in the past decade - with the housing market bubble and with global recession. In an effort to get back to sustainable levels, the government has passed spending cuts. The major sectors of its economy are tourism, construction, renewable energy, and industry (automobile). It is a champion of renewable energy – solar, wind, hydroelectric, biomass and marine.

Travel Resources: 

May through mid October is considered the best time to visit Spain though July and August are very hot. It is known popularly as the land of the bull fights, flamenco dancing, beaches and glorious sunshine. But there is more to Spain as is evident from its diverse historical and cultural monuments, elegant architecture, and beautiful landscape. Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Seville, Granada (World Heritage monuments, Alhambra), Salamanca (Heritage Sites) are a few cities tourists descend upon. Spanish cuisine has trickled down in various forms into the cuisine of most Spanish-speaking countries and hence it is very popular. The cuisine is predominantly Mediterranean influenced by the seafood available.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Rick Steves’ Spain with Map978-1598806694$17824 pages. Walking Tours and Restaurant Recommendations are both standouts in this guide.
The Rough Guide Map to Spain and Portugal978-1843536987$6Plastic Waterproof Map.
Streetwise Barcelona Map978-1886705111$8Laminated City Center Street Map of Barcelona. Main Barcelona Map 1:12,000 Scale, Old City Center Map at 1:6,000 Scale, and Barcelona Area Metro Map at 1:73,000 Scale.
International Travel Grounded Adapter PlugB001ISR9B6$4
Other Travel NeedsNAVaries

Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Spain were a set of five stamps released on January 1, 1850 showing a head portrait of Queen Isabella II. The set (Scott #1 to #5) catalogs for around $11K mint and around one-third that for used. The Queen Isabella theme continued until 1853 when a set of seven stamps showing the Arms of Madrid and a variation of the Queen Isabella II design appeared. That set (Scott #17 to #23) is extremely rare and valuable cataloging for around $30K mint and around one-fourth that for used. Several error varieties in the interim also fetch thousands of dollars. Several variations on the Queen Isabella II design along with a Coat of Arms theme formed the primary stamp issues of Spain during the period till 1867. All those stamps are very highly valued and catalog in the few hundreds of dollars range. Spain released a set of four stamps in 1867 in the Numerals and Queen Isabella II theme. The set (Scott #94 to #97) catalogs for around $330 mint and around $60 used. Several provisional overprints along with a few other designs (Espana, King Amadeo, and Numerals) appeared in several sets during the period through 1873 when a set of eleven stamps that formed the first stamps of the First Republic were issued. That set (Scott #190 to #200) is sought after and catalogs for around $2K mint or used. The designs show Mural Crown and “Espana”. King Alfonso XII and XIII formed the theme of Spanish issues till the turn of the century.

Spain released a set of ten stamps on May 1, 1905 to mark the 300th anniversary of the publication of Cervantes ‘Don Quixote’. The set (Scott #287 to #296) catalogs for around $1350 MNH and around $340 used. The designs show Dox Quixote starts forth, attacks windmill, meets country girls, Sancho Panza tossed in blanket, knighted, tilting at Sheep, on wooden horse, adventure with lions, bullock cart, and the enchanted lady.

Other issues of Spain enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A set of fourteen stamps released on February 15, 1929 to mark Seville and Barcelona Exhibitions. The set (Scott #345 to #357 and #E2) catalogs for around $250 MNH and around half that for used. A variety with a different perforation (14) was also released and that set (Scott #345a to #357a and E2a) catalogs for around $700 MNH and around $535 used. The designs show the ship Santa Maria and View of Seville, Herald of Barcelona, Exposition Buildings, and King Alfonso XIII and View of Barcelona. The sets along with a few other ones were privately produced and approved by the Spanish postal authority for postal use.
  2. A set of nine stamps released on November 25, 1938 to honor the militia. The set (Scott #606 to #614) catalogs for around $725 MNH and around $440 used. The designs show rifleman, machine gunners, and bomb throwing. The set was sold only at the philatelic agency. It exists in an imperforate variety and that set catalogs for around $1800 MNH and around $1200 used. Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1939 claimed the lives of over half-a-million people and another half-a-million people left the country, mainly to Latin America. The country was neutral during World War II although sympathetic to the Axis.
  3. A long set of twenty one stamps released between 1954 and 1956 showing a head portrait of General Franco. The set (Scott #815 to #835) catalogs for around $20 MNH and around $5 for used. The design is considered as the most recognized stamps of Spain. Francisco Franco Bahamonde was a Spanish dictatorial military general and Head of State of Spain during the period from April 1, 1939 until his death on November 20, 1975.
  4. A long set of twenty one stamps released in 1971 to mark the Holy Year of Compostela. The set (Scott #1642 to #1662) catalogs for around $6 MNH and a little less for used. The designs show Map of Main Pilgrimage Routes, St. Bridget Statue at Vadstena in Sweden, Santiago Cathedral, Tower of St. Jacques of Paris, Pilgrim before entering Santiago de Compostela, St. James Statue of Pistoia in Italy, Lugo Cathedral, Villafranca del Bierzo church, Astorga Cathedral, San Marcos de Leon, Charlemagne bas-relief at Aachen Cathedral in Germany, San Tirso de Sahagun, San Martin de Fromista, Bas-relief at King’s Hospital in Burgos, Portal of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Cloister of Najera, Puente de la Reina, Santa Maria de Eunate, and Cross of Roncesvalles.
  5. A long set of twenty five stamps released between 1993 and 1998 showing a head portrait of King Juan Carlos. The set (Scott #2714 to #2738) catalogs for around $35 MNH and around $10 for used. King Juan Carlos is the current King of Spain. He transitioned Spain from dictatorship to parliamentary democracy, following the long dictatorial rule from Francisco Franco.
Numismatic Profile:

Coins were used in Spain as early as seventh century BC through Greek contacts. In the modern era, Kingdom Coinage (34 Maravedi = 1 Real, 16 Reales = 1 Escudo) debut in the 18th century. Decimal Coinage (100 Centimos = 10 Decimos = 1 Real) debut in 1852 with the introduction of Copper Reals. They are valued at around $70 in XF. Another Decimal Coinage (100 Centimos = 1 Escudo) was introduced in 1866 with the release of Copper Centimos with the 8-pointed star mint mark. This was followed by a third decimal coinage (10 Milesimas = 1 Centimo, 100 Centesimos = 1 Peseta) in 1870. Commemorative Gold Proofs were first issued in 1989 and Spain has issued a number of commemorative proofs for the numismatic market over the years.

Numismatic items of Spain include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$1 and upCommon Pesetas in UNC starts around $1. 18th century silver coins in VF, Maravedis from the 17th century, recent gold plated medallic issues, etc start around $10. Recent Commemorative Silver Proofs, Copper Coin Sets from the 16th century, 18th century silver coins in XF+, etc start around $50. Gold Coins, Low Mintage Silver Coins, Early Cob Type Gold Issues, etc go well into the 100s and 1000s depending on rarity and bullion value.
Paper Money$2 and upCommon UNC Pesetas from the 1970s onward starts around $2. High Values, Issues from the 1920s and prior dates, etc start around $10. Large Banknotes from the 1920s in VF+ with 10 pieces or more, Rare Dates, Solid Numbers, etc start around $50. Rare notes from the 1900s in VF+, Early Bundles, etc go well into the 100s and 1000s depending on rarity.

Collectible Memorabilia:

Olive oil, Spanish fan, saffron, leather wine bottles, etc., are some souvenirs from Spain.


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Music Records$10 and upRecords start around $10 and go well into the 100s for rare items.
Art$5 and upSoccer wall posters and 19th century local scenes prints start around $5. Original works by Ralph Anthony Morton, David Marshall, Vadim Bokleff, etc and Matador bull statues go into the 100s. Original works by Jose Ortega, Antonio Garcia Gutierrez, F. Rodriguez Sevilla, J. Garrigues, Ventura Diaz, Mathew Kalmenoff, Nathan Klein, etc go into the 1000s.
Entertainment Memorabilia$5 and upMiscellaneous Promo Press Photos start around $5. 50s and 60s movie posters start around $30 and go into the 1000s.
Antiques$10 and up19th century maps start around $10. Vintage Toasting Goblet sets, Presentation Plates etc start around $20. 18th century and prior maps, Vintage Art Hand Painted Pottery, Statues, and Figurines, 18th century candlesticks, etc start in the $100 range and go into the 1000s.
Miscellaneous Collectibles$2 and upPostcards, patches, etc start around $2. Handmade Whiskey Decanters, Porcelain Figurines, etc start around $30. Vintage Retired Lladro Figurines, Colonial Swords, etc go well into the 100s. Civil War Star Badges, WW Legion Crosses, Order of Mercy Grand Commander Medals, etc go into the $1000 range.

Last Updated: 12/2015.

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