Brazil 1887 – Southern Cross

Here it is – the very first astro stamp ever, Brazil SG number 84 from 1887. The cross is a powerful Christian symbol, so it is not surprising that Brazil, a devoutly Catholic country, should choose to depict the celestial Southern Cross on a stamp. It is a realistic depiction of the constellation Crux, including the fifth star, Epsilon Crucis, distinctively offset from the centre; this fifth star is left out of other, purely symbolic representations. The stamp was issued in one value and one colour – the Gibbons catalogue describes it as blue, although this example looks more like slate grey, evidently due to ageing. Its size is virtually identical to that of a present-day British Machin. Top-quality mint copies have a catalogue value up to £200. Illustrated here is a lightly postmarked used copy.

Note: This stamp was one of a series with various designs and face values issued 1884–88, and is the only one of them to show the southern cross. The Gibbons Simplified Catalogue gives a year of issue of 1884, but that date seems to apply to the first stamp in the series. It appears that the southern cross stamp was issued in January 1887. For more detailed information on these early Brazil issues, see page XIV of this document.

SG number
Face value
300 r