Postage stamps and postal history of the Azores

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Postage stamps and postal history of the Azores surveys the postal history of the Portuguese archipelago, situated in the north Atlantic.

Map of the Azores


A 25 reis stamp with the image of King D. Carlos, issued in Angra (1892)

The first stamps issued in the Azores had the effigy of Queen D. Maria II, which were issued in 1853, designed by Francisco de Borja Freire and printed by the Casa da Moeda.[1] The stamps were inspired by English stamps issued between 1847 and 1848, presenting a bust of the Queen (similar to coin minted in the period) and printed one-by-one in sheets of 24 examples, without perforations and arranged irregularly.[1] The first two stamps (that began circulating on 1 July 1853) had a facial cost of 5 and 25 réis.[1] The following day, issues of 100 réis, and on 22 July 1853, 50 réis were available. This process allowed Portugal to become the 45 nation to adopt the postal stamp.[1]

Between 1853 and 1869, the primitive stamps were stamped with circular postmark (referred to as the First Reform) that included numerical bar registers that corresponding to the locality.[1] The Azores, then referred to as the Ilhas Adjacentes (Adjacent Islands) and the Direcção do Correio (Postal Directorate) stamped them as:[1]

  • 48 - Angra do Heroísmo (Terceira)
  • 49 - Horta (Fayal)
  • 50 - Ponta Delgada (São Miguel)

Between 1869 and 1878 oval postmarks began being used (the Second Postal Reform), using new postal designators:[1]

  • 42 - Angra do Heroísmo (Terceira)
  • 43 - Horta (Faial)
  • 44 - Ponta Delgada (São Miguel)

Nearly all of the stamps issued in the Azores were Portuguese stamps overprinted with "AÇORES", with the first appearing in 1868, and continued until 1930. After 1930, Portuguese stamps issued in the Azores were used unmodified. The exceptions were stamps issued with the images of Vasco da Gama (first issued of 1898), King D. Carlos (issued from 1906), and King D. Manuel (including the Manuel revolutionary overprints of 1910).

1894 issues 
1895 issues 

Between 1892 and 1906, the three administrative districts of the Azores had stamps issued inscribed with their names: Angra, Horta and Ponta Delgada. The designs were identical to those of the regular Portuguese stamps (which were inscribed "CONTINENTE" to distinguish them), with the colors generally the same, although some were lighter or darker.

Аngra 1897-1905 
Horta 1897-1905 
Ponta Delgada 1897-1905 


On 2 January 1980, the use of separate stamps for the Azores (and Madeira) were revived. The modern stamps were inscribed both "PORTUGAL" and "AÇORES".

Personalized and regional stamps began to be emitted from 2008 by the Portuguese postal service.[1] These stamps have no special purpose beyond the expression of local pride; all are sold and valid in Portugal. About 5-10 are issued each year, generally with themes relating to the Azores.



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h História Postal Açoriana (in Portuguese), Angra do Heroísmo (Azores), Portugal: Núcleo Filatélico de Angra do Heroísmo