Specialized Collection of Panama

Finding Guide
refer to caption

Medio Centesimo de Balboa, Panama, Scott No. 185

Prepared by Thomas Lera, Winton M. Blount Research Chair.


This specialized collection consists of 3 volumes of stamps, artists’ designs, trial color proofs, and related philatelic material from Panama 1906 - 1907.


On December 17, 1964, an anonymous donor (Accession Number 258009) gifted to the Smithsonian Institution a specialized three-volume collection of the Hamilton Bank Note Company Republic of Panama Issue of 1906-1907.


This series of the Republic of Panama stamps was issued in late 1906 and early 1907. It was Panama’s first portrait series and was engraved and printed by the Hamilton Bank Note Company of New York. The ornate frames and colors of each value differ, but the portraits in the center of all are black. The denominations in “Balboas” and “centesimos” replaced “pesos” and “centavos”, a result of the changeover from silver to a gold standard.

There were many orders for these stamps and the colors and paper used differed with each. The first printings were on soft, thick cream-colored paper, the later of lower values on thin, hard, white paper.

Contained in the three volumes are artwork, die proofs, plate proofs, essays, mint stamps, inverted center stamps, and UPU specimens. This finding guide presents historical background of the image illustrated on the stamps as well as what items are found within each volume.