Uruguay - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Uruguay, a country located in Southeastern part of South America bordered by Brazil, Argentina and the Southern Atlantic Ocean has a total area of 68,037 square miles and a population of around 3.5 million. As Uruguay is mostly rolling plains with low hills, the climate is fairly uniform across the entire nation. The country has nine National Parks. It is among the economically developed countries of South America with high rating in the quality of life index. The country was ranked in one study as  being in the top ten for the “Most livable and greenest country”category and rated highly in another in Prosperity Index. It is also a champion for peace as its military is primarily deployed as UN Peacekeepers. The main sectors of its economy are agricultural products, industry, and services. The services sector include banking and financial services, tourism, and commerce. Uruguay is also gaining strength as a software exporter.

Travel Resources: 

November through March is considered tourist friendly, with January and February being peak season. Montevideo,  Punte Del Este, Punta del Diablo, Colonia del Sacramento, Parque Santa Teresa, and Salto are some of the popular attractions of Uruguay. Uruguayan culture is predominantly Portuguese rather than South American. The country is a top consumer of red meat. Beef platters, steak sandwiches, and sausages are very popular items. Milanesa (breaded veal cutlet), morcilla dulce (blood sausage cooked with orange), hingaras (spicy sausage in a bun), and masas surtidas (pastry) are other traditional foods.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Uruguay Bradt Travel Guide978-1841623160$18The best travel guide for Uruguay! Part I is a general traveler’s background and practical information covering 72 pages. Part II has chapters on Montevideo, Southern Uruguay, Eastern Uruguay, Western Uruguay, and The Interior.
Uruguay and Montevideo Folded Map by International Travel Maps978-1553414544$13One Side shows a road-map of Uruguay at 1:800,000 Scale. The other side is a street plan of downtown Montevideo.
Uruguay Grounded Adapter Plug - GUBB001FD5EGQ$8

Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Uruguay were a set of three stamps released on October 1, 1856 showing ‘El Sol de Mayo’. The set (Scott #1 to #3) catalogs for around $1000 mint and were carrier issues. Genuine pen cancellations, the only used examples sell for a little less. A variety of the same design was issued the following year on the same date and that one (Scott #3B) is very valuable and catalogs for around $2.5K mint. The first Government Issues were a set of six stamps released on June 26, 1859 in the same theme. The set (Scott #7 to #12) catalogs for around $370 Mint and around half that for Used. Another set (Scott #13 to #17) released the following year catalogs for around $275 mint and around $300 used. The ‘El Sol de Mayo’ theme continued till around 1864.’El Sol de Mayo’ (The Sun of May) is the national emblem of Uruguay and is featured in their flag. It is a representation of the Inca sun god Inti. The ‘May’ part of the name is a reference to the May Revolution that marked the beginning of the end of the Spanish Empire. Uruguay released a set of five stamps on January 10, 1866 showing Numerals on a Coat of Arms design. The set (Scott #29 to #33) catalogs for around $75 mint and around $40 used. A long set of twenty two stamps showing historically relevant local scenes and symbols followed in 1895 and that set (Scott #108 to #129) catalogs for around $135 mint and around $55 used. The designs show gaucho, Solis Theater, locomotive, bull’s head, Ceres, sailing ship, Liberty, Mercury, Coat of Arms, Montevideo Fortress, and Cathedral in Montevideo. Gauchos are the equivalent of North American cowboys and play a symbolic role in the nationalist feelings of the region. Solis Theater is Uruguay’s oldest theater built in 1856. Montevideo is the capital and largest city of Uruguay established in 1726.

Uruguay released a set of twelve stamps on June 25, 1923 showing the Southern Lapwing in different colors and denominations. The set (Scott #267 to #278) catalogs for around $45 Mint and around $25 Used. A variety of the same set followed on July 26, 1924 and that set (Scott #285 to #298) is also sought after cataloging for around $35 Mint and around half that for Used. The bird, referred to as the tero in Uruguay, is a popular bird. It is the only crested wader in South America.

Other issues of Uruguay enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A set of eleven stamps released between 1939 and 1943 showing a portrait of Artigas in different colors and denominations. The set (Scott #494 to #504) catalogs for around $20 MNH and around $12 used. Artigas is a common theme among Uruguayan early stamp issues. He is a national hero sometimes referred to as the father of Uruguayan independence. He died in 1850 in Paraguay after a long period of exile – legend has it that he asked for a horse and died in the saddle, as a gaucho!
  2. A long set of seventeen stamps released on January 14, 1954 showing local scenes. The set (Scott #605 to #621) catalogs for around $30 MNH and around half that for used. The designs show ceibo the national flower, horse breaking, ombu tree, passion flower, Montevideo Fortress, Outer Gate at Montevideo, Legislative Building, and Island of Seals.
  3. A set of three stamps released on May 7, 1974 to mark the World Cup Soccer Championship in Munich between June 13 and July 7th. The set (Scott #870 to #881) catalogs for around $15 MNH and around half that for used. The bulk of the valuation is for the high value #881 which had very limited distribution – a souvenir sheet of that stamp was also issued but that was not valid for postage. Uruguay has a strong soccer legacy having won the FIFA World Cups twice by the time this set was released – the first ever World Cup in 1930 as hosts and in 1950 upsetting hosts Brazil.
  4. A long set of twenty four stamps released between 1993 and 1999 showing Postal Administration related scenes and symbols. The set (Scott #1446 to #1462 and #1463-1465C) catalogs for around $30 MNH or used.
  5. A set of seven stamps released between 2000 and 2004 showing Nature scenes. The set (Scott #1836 to #1855) catalogs for around $55 MNH and around the same for used. The designs show Penitente Waterfall, Crow’s Gorge Nature Reserve, Gruta del Palacio, and Sierra de los Caracoles. Crow’s Gorge is a nature reserve 257 km from Montevideo consisting of over 4000 hectares of area.
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins of Uruguay were Republic Decimal Coinage (100 Centesimo = 1 Peso) Copper Centesimos issued in 1840. The first issues had low mintage (few 1000s) and catalogs well into the 100s in VF+. Reform Coinage (1000 Old Pesos = 1 Nuevo Peso) debut in 1977 with the release of Aluminum Centesimos showing radiant sun with face in Obverse and Value and Wheat Stalk in Reverse with a distinct 12-sided shape. The issue has mintage of 10M and catalogs for well under a dollar in UNC. The coinage was further reformed in 1993 (1000 Nuevos Pesos = 1 Uruguayan Peso, 100 Centesimos = 1 Uruguayan Peso) and the first issues from that period (Stainless Steel Centesimos showing Artigas in Obverse and Value, date and Sprig in Reverse) also has high mintage with valuations well under a dollar for BU. The first gold coins were pattern strikes from the mid-nineteenth century onwards and those issues are very rare. In the modern era, Uruguay started issuing gold coins with the release of a 0.2501 troy ounce 5 Pesos issue of 1930 showing Artigas in Obverse and Denomination, Date, and Sprigs in Reverse.

Numismatic items of Uruguay include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$1 and upCommon UNCs starts around $1. Silver UNCs from the 1950s and prior dates, UNC Year Sets from the 1980s onward, etc start around $10. 19th century silver coins in high grades, Recent Commemorative Silver UNCs, etc start around $30. Low Mintage Commemorative Silver Proofs, Large Proofs from the 1980s, Rare Pieforts and Patterns, etc go well into the 100s.
Paper Money$2 and upCommon UNC Pesos starts around $2. Consecutive Serial Number Banknotes with 5-pieces or more in UNC, High Value UNCs, etc start around $10. Authentic Private Notes from the 19th century in VF+, Specimens from the 1960s onward, etc start around $30. Unissued UNC banknotes, Rare High Value Specimens, etc start around $50. Bundles, Rare Dates, Specimen Sets, etc go well into the 100s.


Collectible Memorabilia:

Leather goods, jewelry from semi-precious stones (amethyst, topaz, quartz and agate), and Mate cups are good takeaways from this country.


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Craft$5 and upEmbroidered Flag Patches start around $5. Hand Knitted Merino Wool Caps start around $20.
Art$10 and upEx Libris Art and vintage local scenes and political photos start around $10. Rinconada Ceramic Figurines start around $50. Original works by Villalba Quinteros, Jose Enrique, Jorge Dumas, Emanuel Sela, Lincoln Presno, etc go well into the 100s.
Antiques$5 and up19th century maps start around $5. Older maps Colonial Santos etc go well into the 100s.
Miscellaneous Collectibles$10 and up19th century local scenes postcards start around $10. Vintage 50s chocolate cards showing entertainers start around $15. St John Honor Crosses, Natural Amethyst Crystal Clusters, Catholic School Gilt Medals, etc start around $30. 1940s vintage beer posters, themed lithographs on vintage lunch boxes, WW Airforce Captain Kepis, Shako Helmets, etc go well into the 100s.



Last Updated: 12/2015.

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