In order to do my research about Venezuela Formular Cards, I went through a huge number of magazines including The Philatelic Record, The London Philatelist, The American Philatelist (up to 1920), The Stamp’s Collector, Le Timbre-Poste, and the different magazines published by Club Filatelico de Caracas and its successor, Asociación Filatélica de Caracas. Similarly, I reviewed the Venezuelan goverment’s records from 1830 up to 1922. And last but not least, the local catalogs issued in Venezuela since 1915.
The following is a comprehensive list of every single book or article I’ve found about Venezuela Formular Cards.
Decrees #2113 , #2185, #2216, and 2216a
All these decrees are related to the origin and regulations of the Formular Cards.Decretos1878-1879
The Philatelic Record
Vol II, #21, October 1880. Page 121.
This is the earliest document I found mentioning the formular cards of Venezuela. Keep in mind that this magazine was published only a few months after they were released.
A few notes worth mentioning from this magazine is that they got the three colors of the First Printing (black, blue, and red).
Also worth mentioning is the fact that they got one of these pieces with two “1 centavo” ESCUELAS stamp attached to the card. I am yet to see a card franked with a “1 centavo”; I have seen, thought, 1 CENTÉSIMO stamps used on these cards (which were the ESCUELAS stamps available at that time anyway) so I think they really meant to say “1 centésimo.” which was equivalent to 5 céntimos. Two centésimos (that is 10 cents) represents the correct rate at the time to send one of these cards.ThePhilatelicRecordVol2
Vol VI, #68, September 1884. Page 157.
The following was the best source of truth for these cards for more than a century. Unfortunately we can’t properly credit its author because this person decided to sign just as “A Post Card Collector.” Anyway… Thank you very much, Post Card Collector! Thank you very much!
There are quite a few things worth to mention here! First of all, this is the only document I’ve found that mentions an ink color for the Printing I different than the known Black, Blue or Red. It mentions “Greenish Grey over White.” I haven’t found any of these yet. I wonder if those were a failed attempt to have these cards tri-colored as was the common trend during the reign of the ESCUELAS.
Also worth to mention is the fact that the author listed 16 main types and a few varieties. There are actually 15 different types but some of these types have subtypes because the plate used got worn. That gave the impression of having different types. The author also got many of the types mixed together for the Second and Third Printing.
Still, it was a tremendous work whose value still persists!ThePhilatelicRecordVol6
#259, Brussels, July 1884. Page 54.
#263, Brussels , November 1884. Page 94.
Le Timbre-Poste has information similar to what I found on The Philatelic Record but they managed to make it more convoluted. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt because my French is… well… very German.
They did, however, noticed that the length of the first and second line were key identifiers. They also mentioned quite a few paper colors.
One interesting thing worth to mention is that they never reported the very peculiar Transfer 4.1 (the so-called “Fancy Letters”), which by November 1884 should’ve been known…
Unless Printing IV was actually issued in December 1884 or even 1885.LeTimbre-Poste263
Venezuela – Catálogo Especializado
By Adrián Herández Baño, Caracas, 1970.
From all the documents I found about these pieces, I regret to mention that the work done by Adrián Hernández Baño was, without a doubt, the worst. I regret it because Mr. Hernández Baño was a very smart, wise, methodical, and studious person who demonstrated his value to the Venezuelan philately once and again. I wonder why he did this… thing.
He barely mentioned the Formular Cards (which I think would’ve been much better) showing only one card and mentioning that there were 100s of papers color which was both false and discouraging.
This catalog was later bought by Prof. Juan José Valera who didn’t do anything to improve Mr. Hernández’ work in this regard.CatalogoAHB
Vol XIII, #48, Peterborough, November 1987. Page 3.
“The Formula Cards of Venezuela” by Finn Stjernholck.
Unfortunately, The Mainsheet is not public domain yet so I can’t share it.
However, it’s mandatory to mention Mr. Stjernholk’s work, the best I could found. On it, Stjernholk gives so much information in a very detailed fashion. He was so careful that he even included the color codes he used for the paper colors found on his cards. That helped me find the same color guide (for those interested, it was “Color Atlas” by Kornerup and Wanscher, 1961) so we both could be on the same page (pun intended.)
He also included data good enough to make me feel as if I had his cards in front of me. Different table views allowed me to see his collections from several angles and compare it with the same angle in my collection.
He was a genius!
If you have a chance to put your hands on the #48 of The Mainsheet, do it.
Catálogo Especializado de Estampillas VENEZUELA
By Aurelio Blanco, Caracas, 1991.
Mr. Blanco bought Prof. Juan José Valera’s rights on his catalog including, of course, the back of book section where we found the deficient work made by Mr. Hernández Baño on the Formular Cards.
For his catalog, however, Mr. Blanco started what could’ve been an excellent work should have him ever finish it.
He shows the six different transfers with major differences and lists a few colors for each transfer. However, he totally made up the printing numbers and its order, which he wrongly established in five.
One thing he was spot on was on the dates of the decrees that legalize the use of the formular cards in Venezuela. He also said that these card were later accepted to be used internally but he didn’t mentioned the rate, which was different than the regular: Just 5 céntimos instead of 10.CatalogoBlanco1992
Gaceta Mensual Club Filatélico de Caracas
#109, Caracas, November 1995. Page 8.
#164, Caracas, Enero-Junio 2005, Page 5
#109 “Enteros Postales de Venezuela” by Alberto Moratti
#164 “Primeros Enteros de Venezuela” by Alberto Moratti
My good friend Alberto Moratti wrote what became the last pieces of information written about the Formula Cards for the last 25 years.
On his work, he mentioned for the first time the printing method used: Typography. This could be easily derived from the pieces but nobody did it before him so the honors go to him.
On #109, he speculated about the sheet size, which he thought were nine, due to the number of types he’d found for the time of this written. He also stated that the five different “printings” identified by Mr Blanco are not such, but different transfers of a unique printing.
He obviously didn’t had all the information we had now nor the number of pieces we own, otherwise I’m sure he would’ve come up with another great work as the ones he did for every single classic series issued in Venezuela. Still, he managed to identify several different types.
Ten yeas later, he read the great of of Mr. Stjernholk, mentioned above and he added an important clue to all this mess: He said he once hold a full sheet on 8 formula cards in a 2Rx4F arrangement what made him believe that there should had been 8 transfers instead of five, as Mr. Stjernholk said.GacemaMensualClubFilatelicoDeCaracas109-164
Venezuela Formular Cards Catalog
By Will Castillo, Atlanta, 2019.
And as far as I know, this is the latest documentation on these cards. I made it so I’m not going to judge my own catalog.