Monday, May 19, 2008

Stamp Issuer - Andorra, Principality of

Spanish Andorra Overprint
Used on 1st Series, 1928

The Principality of Andorra is a small landlocked country nestled in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain. It is one of the smallest countries in the world, with only 15 countries smaller than its 468 sq. km. (181 sq. miles).

Because of its rugged, mountainous surroundings, Andorra was virtually isolated for much of its history. That began to change as technology improved transportation methods. Plus, as the country transformed itself into a tourist haven by offering duty-free items to go with its beautiful scenery, it has made itself into a hot spot for tourism. Today, tourism accounts for 80% of the Andorran Gross Domestic Product.

French Andorra Overprint
Used on 1st Series, 1931

Politically, Andorra is a co-principality; there are two princes who are the heads of government -- the President of France is one and the Bishop of Urgell, Spain is the other. Of interest to philatelists is that both the French and Spanish administrations of Andorra issue stamps. The two postal administrations offer their own designs and are treated as two distinct stamp issuers.

On January 1, 1928, Spain opened post offices within the principality. The Spanish Administration overprinted stamps of Spain for use in Andorra. With the second series of stamps, issued in 1929, the name of the country appears as an integral part of the design of stamp.

In 1931, the French Administration of Andorra issued overprinted stamps of France. Like the Spanish Administration, France only used overprinted stamps for the first set; with the second set of stamps issued, the name of the country was part of the design of the stamp.

Neither administration is a heavy issuer of stamps. The Spanish Administration has averaged less than 9 stamps per year over the past 10 years. The French Administration fares worse, averaging 14 stamps per year over the last 10 years.

Spanish Andorra, 2003 (Scott #289)
Andorran Flag

During the 1960s and 1970s, both administrations started producing very colorful commemorative stamps. Each continues this practice today, producing very scenic and colorful stamps illustrating Andorra's heritage.

As far as Back of the Book (semi-postal, air post, postage due, etc.) stamps, neither administration has produced many, with the lone exception being the French Administration's 62 Postage Due stamps.

All in all, Andorra would be a great country to collect for many philatelists. It might not be ideal for beginners, as there are several costly, early issue stamps. However, with the minimal annual issues and the high number of beautiful commemoratives, it is definitely a nice country for an intermediate collector to try to complete.

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