Until 1885 Colombia was a confederation of states, each with its sovereign powers, including the power to issue stamps. The first national stamps, issued by the Grenadine Confederation, appeared in 1859. In 1861 the country was named the 'United States of New Granada' and in 1862 the 'United States of Colombia'. Each change occasioned a new issue of stamps. These early issues, lithographed in Bogota, generally featured coats of arms. Meanwhile, many of the states issued their own, similar, stamps. Bolivar issued the world's smallest stamp (3/8" x 1/2") in 1863. In 1883 the Republic of Colombia was established, and by the turn of the twentieth century, the states ceased issuing postage stamps.
In collecting early Columbia, one will find a wealth of stamps. There is also the challenge provided by more than the usual number of reprints and forgeries.