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Telegraph stamps of the World

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On December 23, 1873 a connections were made between Rio de Janeiro, Belém do Pará, Recife and Salvador.
On June 22, 1874, the connection with Europe was completed, between the stations of Recife and Carcavelos (in Portugal), via Cape Verde and the island of Madeira. In 1875 the connection between Recife, João Pessoa and Natal was established.

Later, in 1893, the English company South American Cables Ltd. installed an undersea cable in the island of Fernando de Noronha. In 1914 the cable concession was transferred to France. A second submarine cable on the same island was launched by the Italian Italcable in 1925.

In 1895, a 1600nm cable was laid along the Amazon River by Siemens Bros. for the Amazon Telegraph Company. The cable needed frequent repairs due to the conditions. The route chosen was:
Belem (Para) → Cameta (on the River Tocantins)
Belem → Pinheiro (Ilha de Caratateua) → Mosqueiro → Soure across the Para River

Breves (Ilha de Marajo)
Gurupa → Chaves (Ilha de Marajo) → Macapa (to the North)
Monte Alegre
Santarem, at the mouth of the Tapajos
Alemquer (now Alenquer)
Obidos (last point in Para, then Amazonas)
Parentins (was Villa Bella da Imperatriz, now Parintins)
Itacoatiara (was Serpa)
Para-Brazil A detailed map of Para can be found on Wiki-Commons. Maps vary a lot. The Amazon basin is largely varying degrees of swamp with the towns occupying the high ground. Whether a spot in between is drawn as mainland, island or river depends on the season and perhaps the time of day. The tides influence the water level, as does the rainy season. It is said that the overall effect can change the water level by as much as 40 feet (12 meters) in places. Telegraph poles were impractical. Coastlines also change over time, as do place-names/spellings.

Telegraph Routes.

Telegram forms of 1921 and 1932 show route-maps on the back and list the following companies supplying services :

Interior   (1921 and 1932)
Radio Amazonas — R. G. dos Telegraphos.
Western — The Western Telegraph Co. Ltd.
AMAZON — The Amazon Telegraph Co. Ltd.

Exterior   (1921)
DAKAR (Senegal)
TALISMAN (Azores?)
Cie. des Cables Sud-Américains.
WESTERN — The Western Telegraph Co. Ltd.
SALINAS — Cie. Française des Cables Télégraphiques.
MONROVIA (Liberia)
MONTEREES (California ?)
Deutsch Sudamerikanische Telegraphengesellschaft AG.
COLON (Panama)
Central & South American Telegraph Co.
URUGUAYANA — Administração Argentina
LIVRAMENTO (Azores) — Administração Oriental
JAGUARÃO (bordering Uruguay) — Administração Oriental
Exterior   (1932)
DAKAR (Senegal) Cie. des Cables Sud-Américains.
WESTERN — The Western Telegraph Co. Ltd.
COLON (Panama) Central & South American Telegraph Co.
URUGUAYANA — Administração Argentina
LIVRAMENTO (Azores) — Administração Oriental
JAGUARÃO — Administração Oriental
ITALCABLE — Administração Italiana
RADIOBRAZ — Companhia Radiotelegraphica Brasileira

The First Brazilians Railroads.

Name Year From - To Ext. State
Imperial Companhia de Navegação e Vapor e Estrada de Ferro Petrópolis. (E.F. Mauá) 1854 From Praia da Estrela(Guia Station of Pacobaíba) to Fragoso (Vila Inhomirim) 14,5 Rio de Janeiro
Recife and S. Francisco Railway Company 1858 From Cinco Pontas to Cabo 31,5 Pernambuco
Companhia Estrada de Ferro D. Pedro II (Central do Brasil) 1858 From Corte to Queimados 48,2 Rio de Janeiro
Bahia and S. Francisco Railway Company Limited (E.F. Bahia ao S. Francisco) 1860 From Calçada to Paripe 14,0 Bahia
São Paulo Railway Company Limited (EF Santos-Jundiaí) 1867 From Santos to Jundiaí 139 São Paulo
Estrada de Ferro Baturité (Rede de Viação Cearense) 1873 From fortaleza to Porongaba 9,1 Ceará
Companhia Brasileira Ltda, Estrada de Ferro Porto Alegre a Novo Hamburgo (Viação Férrea Rio Grande do Sul) 1874 From Porto Alegre to São Leopoldo 33,7 Rio Grande do Sul
Companhia Estrada de Ferro d'Oeste (E.F. Oeste de Minas) 1881 From Sítio to Barroso 49 Minas Gerais
Compagnie Générale de Chemins de Fer Brésiliens (E.F. Paranaguá-Curitiba) 1885 From Paranaguá to Morretes 40,9 Paraná

Early telegraphs were more easily laid beside railway tracks.

I have gleaned information from these and other sources to put together the map below:

According to Introdução da telegrafia elétrica no Brasil, from 1809, optical telegraphs were used to warn of the approach of foreign vessels. These telegraphs were located in Ponta Negra (Maricá), Cabo Frio, Itaipu (Niterói) - north of the city of Rio de Janeiro - in the hills of Babilônia (Copacabana) and the Castle, and in the fortresses of Villegagnon.

Experiments were begun in 1851 with Electric telegraphy (ostensibly to combat the slave trade). These were successful enough to warrant the ordering of Morse telegraph apparatus and gutta-percha insulated cables from E. Stochrer in Leipzig. These were received March 15, 1852. On May 11, 1852, the first telegraph line was installed between Campo da Aclamação (now Campo de Santana) and Paço de São Cristóvão, in Rio de Janeiro. This was extended to include local military police and fire departments. It saw little use.

On January 17, 1854 a telegraphic centre was established to extend communications to Petrópolis (site of Emperor's summer palace) and Niterói, then beyond the urban perimeter, it would follow the line by the way of Botafogo until the Lagoon, by the road of the Andaraí to Tijuca, through Laranjeiras to Corcovado.
The first non-military telegraph line in Brazil was in January 1857 with the telegraph line, between Petrópolis and the Health beach at Rio de Janeiro, the total length was 50,630 meters, including 14,970 meters of submarine cable in the bay of Guanabara.
next to the Institute of the Blind Boys, a submarine cable stretched 7,050 meters until the Ponta of Matoso on Ilha do Governador. From there, an air line with a length of 6,160 meters Pinion Bag. From this extreme, another submarine cable of 7,920 meters departed to the bridge of Mauá, where was attached to the airline of iron wire, that followed next to the line of the train until the Root of the Serra da Estrela and from there to Petrópolis (site of Emperor's summer palace), stretching further 29,500 meters. From Praia da Saúde to Petrópolis, the total length was 50,630 meters, being 14,970 meters of submarine cable in the bay of Guanabara.
Despite the intention to extend the telegraph to Cabo Frio, Bahia, Pernambuco, Maranhão and Rio Grande do Sul, at the end of 1858, the telegraphs in Brazil was still restricted only to the capital and surroundings and almost exclusively to the services of the Court. On August 1, 1858, the free transmission of correspondence by the electric telegraph between the Prainha and Petropolis Stations, which was in front of the Hotel de Bragança, was franked. Two postal workers were hired for delivery of telegrams, one in Petrópolis and another in Prainha, in the Court. 8 months later, 1829 telegrams had been sent, still free of charge.

In 1861 it was decided that the General Bureau of Telegraphs should build its own land lines, moving progressively northwards, taking the line to São João da Barra and, year after year, progressing with the extension of the line according to approved credit. Decree No. 3.288, of July 20, 1864 merged the optical and electrical telegraphs. Optical stations were fitted with electric telegraphs. Employees unable to use the electric telegraphs were dismissed and a workshop for repair of telegraph equipment was established in April 1865 at No.39 Campo da Aclamação. Due to the inability to decide between public and private development of the telegraphs and whether to involve foreign companies, the network spread slowly. Then came the Paraguayan war (1864-70). This both rapidly expanded the network in the south and delayed plans for the north. From September 1865 to June 1866 the south was connected to the front. Siemens provided cable for 17 submarine sections that degraded rapidly and Siemens had to replace them (some twice).
The South line followed the following route:
from the capital it connects to Itaguaí, Mangaratiba, Angra dos Reis, Parati,
in Rio de Janeiro; Ubatuba, São Sebastião, Santos and Iguape,
in São Paulo; Paranaguá,
Paraná; São Francisco do Sul, Itajaí, Desterro (Florianópolis) and Laguna,
in Santa Catarina; Torres, Conceição do Arroio and Porto Alegre,
in the province of São Pedro do Rio Grande do Sul.
(17 stations)
The terrestrial telegraph networks were constructed by the General Office of the Telegraphs, a government company under the direction of Guilherme S. de Capanema. However, the concession given to Kieffer in 1869 (Decreto n. 4350, de 5 de abril de 1869 Brazil) to extend a land line between the Court and Ouro Preto indicates an attempt by the Brazilian government to experiment with the use of foreign companies in the development of telegraphy. Although the telegraph line constructed by Kieffer operated with success, no further concessions were made to terrestrial telegraph lines during the Empire, except the lines that served the railways. The classes initially given by Capanema and his assistants marked the beginning of the study of telegraphy in Brazil. Although in a precarious way, limited to practical interests and attracting a group of workers with low school education, the telegraphy developed and aroused interest. Subsequent to the period analyzed in this article, the study of telegraphy became part of the curriculum of some secondary schools, demonstrating the importance given to the subject.

At the top of the map, Cayenne connects to Paramaribo in Suriname. These two were connected in 1891, with Cayenne connected on to Port au Prince(Haiti), Fort-de-France(Martinique), Puerto Plata, (Dominican Rep.) and Guadeloupe (The Saints Island).

In 1892 LA COMPAGNIE DES CÂBLES SUD-AMÉRICAINS laid a 1620 nm long cable from Dakar, Senegal to the island of Fernando de Noronha, Brazil and then a 347 nm long cable to Pernambuco. The system was extended in 1910-11 when Norddeutsche Seekabelwerke laid cables, Conakry, French Guinea - Monrovia, Liberia 309 nm and Monrovia - Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast 500 nm.

In 1924 CS. Faraday (2) laid cable from Cape St Vincent(Portugal) to Fernando Noronha, and from there on to Rio de Janeiro for Italcable. This was rerouted to Reciffe in 1951.

The cable at the bottom goes from Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo and Buenos Aires.

A list of 1906 for wireless-Telegraph stations lists 3 Telefunken Station with a range of 200km at Ilha Grande (near Rio de Janeiro), Fort Santa Cruz (near Rio de Janeiro) and Ilha de Cobras, Guanabara Bay a little west of Rio de Janeiro.

There were also 3 Shoemaker 10 KW sets at Para (Belem area), Santarem and Manaos.

This is here to get consistent results on different browsers.

Brazil Map

Rio Map
The Brazilian coast, 7,400 km long, was connected by 182 telegraph stations by 1886.


  I have completely revised Hiscocks' original listing, though leaving references to the original designations.  
I have now brought the prices up to date and added currency selection.
The new designations have 'RH' numbers (Revised Hiscocks) to avoid confusion.
CheckList         Setup




1863 Stamps were not actually authorized until 1869, but these were used anyway (but see my note below).
Printed on thin self-coloured card (0.35 to 0.4 mm) in horizontal strips of four by C. Leopoldo Heck. Imperf.
Hiscocks H4
Hiscocks H4a  Hiscocks H4b
Type 1 - RH1, RH1a and RH1b (scanned together).

New # Type. was Description Mint Used
RH1 1 H4 200r black / pale green 150.00 200.00
RH1a   H4a         black / greenish yellow 120.00 150.00
RH1b   H4b         black / ivory 120.00 150.00


Hiscocks added the following 2 notes:

Note. 1 Pairs and strips carry considerable premium.
Note. 2 No. 4 may be found with or without control numbers handstamped in red or blue on the right hand label.
                According to one reference No. 4 was always given a control number before use and pen cancelled in use.
                This would suggest that unnumbered copies are remainders.

My note: There is some uncertainty about where this issue fits in the scheme of things.
Steve Hiscocks listed it as the second series, but with a date of 1863 which would make it the first.
Both John Barefoot and I have re-sequenced them accordingly.
I have however recently been sent a copy of a catalogue page written in Portuguese and in colour, that puts this as the second series with a date of 1873.
It is therefore possible that the date of 1863 was an error, although it seems reasonable that an issue so prominently bearing the name of the creator of the line would come first.

Anyone have a dated, used example of these ?

The only one of these that I have seen that appeared like it may have been genuinely used has no signs of a control number.

Hiscocks H4



1869 Lithographed by L.Heck on white wove paper. No watermark. Imperf.
Control number in circular stamp (bluish green) on reverse. Taken from the centre of the earlier design.

Brazil-RH2b Brazil-RH3a Brazil-RH4
Type 2 (RH2b), (Note 200's on white rectangles) Type 3 (RH3a), (Note the rectangular zeroes) Type 3 (RH4b), (Note the rectangular zeroes)


New # Type. was Description Mint Used
RH2 2 H1 200r light green 75.00 75.00
RH2a   H1a         green 90.00 90.00
RH2b   H1b         without control on reverse (light green) (1871)   20.00 15.00
RH2c   H1c         as RH2b but green 30.00 24.00
RH3 3 H2 500r flesh to pale rose-carmine 90.00 90.00
RH3a   H2a         without control on reverse (1871) 12.00 20.00
RH3b   H2b         watermarked "LACROIX FRERES" 150.00 -
RH4 3 H3 1000r light blue 60.00 60.00
RH4a   H3a         deep dull blue 60.00 60.00
RH4b   H3b         without control light blue (1871) 15.00 20.00
RH4c   H3c         without control deep dull blue (1871) 20.00 24.00
RH4d   H3d         as No. 3(c) but perforated - -
Brazil Control
Control on reverse.


Hiscocks added the following 2 notes:

Note. 1 The status of No. 3d is uncertain but a copy so described
                was included in the 'Burrus' sale in 1963.
Note. 2 The above stamps were printed in sheets of 96 (8 x 12).

1873 As above but with rounded numerals in white on a coloured background.
White wove paper. No watermark or watermarked "LACROIX FRERES". Imperf.

Brazil-RH5 Brazil-RH6 Brazil-type-4
Type 4 (RH5). Type 4 (RH6), (Note the rounded zeroes) Type 4 (RH7), rounded zeroes, from Wikimedia Commons

Brazil RH8 Brazil-spink-form
This is headed "Repartição Geral dos Telégrafos" (RGT).
The National Post Office Museum in Rio de Janeiro is reported to contain
14 volumes of annual reports from 1862 to 1897 for the RGT.

John Barefoot notes that the precise positioning of half a cancel
on each stamp suggests that they are cancelled remainders.
Sounds very reasonable, but here is a used form, courtesy of Spink and Son.
This is however a vertical pair.
Hiscocks type 4 (RH8).


New # Type. was Description Mint Used
RH5 4 H5 200r yellow green 100.00 70.00
RH5a   H5a         on watermarked paper 200.00 140.00
RH6 4 H6 500r red-orange 90.00 60.00
RH6a   H6a         on watermarked paper 180.00 120.00
RH7 4 H7 1000r deep dull blue 300.00 200.00
RH7a   H7a         on watermarked paper 600.00 400.00
RH8 4 H8 2000r bistre 90.00 65.00
RH8a   H8a         on watermarked paper 180.00 120.00


1899 (27 March). Lithographed on white wove paper. No watermark. Perf. 11½.
These were for experimental use on a line between stations within Rio de Janeiro:
Central, Niterói, Fortaleza de Santa Cruz, Rio Comprido, Engenho Novo, Praça da República,
Largo Leões, Prainha, Santa Tereza, São Cristóvão and Largo do Machado.

H9, Hiscocks Book page 19 H9, Hiscocks Book page 19
Hiscocks type 5, (H9). Hiscocks type 5, (H10a).

I had a problem finding any in brown lilac, but this piece of 30 July 1902 on the right,
certainly looks like it, unless it is a colour changeling due to the climate or something.

Image courtesy of Schuyler Rumsey Philatelic Auctions.
rumseyauctions sale 84, lot 1589


New # Type. was Description Mint Used
RH9 5 H9 200r pale bluish green (50,000) 15.00 65.00
RH10 5 H10a 500r purple (30,000) 90.00 90.00
RH10a   H10         brown-lilac                       - -

Note: I have reversed #10 and #10a as I am not convinced that the brown-lilac is not a colour changeling.
I have indicated this colour in the listing. Anyone have a mint example in brown-lilac ?


Imperforate proofs of type 5 are known with a face value written as 5.000 REIS and in 5 different colours.
The colours are: red, blue, green, dark brown and blue-green.


If anyone can provide scans to help with this page, I am happy to give appropriate credit.


Comments, criticisms, information or suggestions are always welcome.


Please include the word 'Telegraphs' in the subject.


Last updated 29th. October 2021

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Permission is hereby granted to copy material for which the copyright is owned by myself, on condition that any data is not altered and this website is given credit.


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