Peru began issuing stamps in the mid 19th Century (1858). Many stamps dating from the late 19th and especially the early to mid-20th century are relatively abundant and reasonably priced for collectors. Older and rarer stamps are considerably more expensive but it is possible to build a nice and fairly representative collection of Peruvian stamps without spending a great deal of money.
Newer stamps (from the 1980’s on) tend to be relatively expensive. This is true of both cancelled and mint condition stamps, and there often isn’t a huge difference in prices between used and mint condition stamps. I think this is may because stamps and mail are relatively expensive in Peru. Bills have never been routinely paid through the mail (people pay in person or automatically through their banks) and there is practically no such thing as bulk mail there. The up-side of these relatively expensive more recent stamps is that most of them are beautiful and quite distinctive (check out this website for some examples). They have featured native fauna (animals), flora (plants), archaeological sites and artifacts, as well as historical figures, all distinct and unique to Peru.
Getting started collecting stamps from Peru
As with so many collectibles, the best and easiest place to start is usually e-bay (but let the buyer beware as always!). There are often one or more decent sized lots for sale that are suitable for starting a basic collection of Peruvian stamps. These stamps also generally feature distinctive Peruvian scenes including maps, animals, archaeological materials and other interesting items, although they are usually only one or two colors, unlike the new stamps. If you are already a stamp collector, pull out your Scott catalogue and have at it.
Stamp collectors generally use a catalog to check stamps and their values. The Scott catalogues are the most popular. If you want to get serious fast about collecting stamps from Peru you can purchase the 2007 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue including Countries of the World J-O, but before you spend $60.00 you might look for a much cheaper used, older copy (e.g the Scott 2001 PaperBack), or even check your local library to see if they have the catalogues. The two downsides of the older catalogues are that they do not include the newest stamps, or have up to date values. For all but the most serious collectors, however, neither of these are huge issues.
Basic information: Stamp Domain’s Country Resource Page
Buying stamps for collecting while you are in Peru: The Serpost website has a pull-down menu under “Filatelia” and if you select “Ventanias Filatelicas” it gives you a list of post-offices that are supposed to carry new issues for stamp collectors. Many of them do. Note that on Sunday mornings there is a stamp fair at the main post office in Lima.
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