Examining an anotado

"On February 29, 1872 the Postal Administration circulated a memo indicating that all unused stamps in the City of Mexico were to be collected and marked with a special mark. Although the specific mark was not spelled out, it can only be the "Anotado" overprint found on the 1868 issue stamps. The reason for this can be read about in the handbook "Mexico - The 1868 Issue", by John Heath and Doug Stout (available from MEPSI Publications).

Anotado" in Spanish means "noted" or "accounted for". 

The anotado overprint is a very difficult overprint to evaluate. Convincing fakes are plentiful. Because of the premium associated with an anotado, when examining the overprint always err on the conservative side. Unless the anotado fits the profile exactly, consider it to be a forgery. You may wish to lessen this rigidity in time when you are more familiar with what you are seeing. Some of the characters, where openings are expected, can be closed due to over inking or slippage (etc.). But initially, discount any that do not fit the profile.

The anotados are always applied to a stamp of the 1868 issue and will probably be applied to a stamp antedated '70, '71 or '72. There are a large number of unused anotados, which add a level of complexity for the examiner. Because the anotados were authorized for use in Mexico City in March of 1872, most used examples will have been used in that city. A few rare examples were used outside the Mexico City district, but if at all they would have been used in neighboring cities such as Puebla or Cuernavaca.

The anotado overprint device was manufactured using some type of metal, probably steel, bronze or perhaps even lead. So the overprints should remain fairly consistent and when viewed on the back of the stamp may show a slight amount of embossing from the impact of the device striking the paper.

A stamp antedated '71 with "Anotado" The Overprint

If the anotado overprint is nice and clear, then the perfect overprint should measure approximately 14¼mm from the left edge of the "A" and to the right edge of the final "o". Depending on certain conditions the overprint could be a little narrower or wider, but I would not accept one that is more than ¼mm narrower or wider. The letters "o", "a" and "o" should all be open at the top. The first "o" and the "a" have considerable openings and the final "o" a smaller opening.

Here it is enlarged 200%:

There was probably more than one overprinting device in service in 1872. So there could be slight differences that may be acceptable. The late Jim Beal noted two types of anotado overprint. His description of the differences follow:

Type 1 anotado Type 2 anotado
1. Right side of the "A" is slightly tilted to the right. 1. The right side of the "A" almost vertical.
2. A-n connector appears to be alongside top of "n". 2. A-n connector intersects top on "n".
3. Left side of "n" and diagonal of "n" connected by small flat line at base of "n". 3. Left side of "n" curves into diagonal of "n" at base of "n".
4. The diagonal of the "n" appears to be along the side of the top of the right vertical leg of the "n". 4. The diagonal of the "n" intersects the top of the right vertical leg of the "n".
5. The connector from the "n" to the "o" intersects the "o" about half way up the "o", about 0.6 to 0.7mm above the base of the "o". 5. The connector from the "n" to the "o" intersects the "o" about ¾ of the way up the "o", about 0.0 - 1.0mm above the base of the "o".
6. The "o" is round with the heavy part in the northeast quadrant and on the left side. 6. The "o" is rounded with heavy part in the southwest quadrant.
7. The connector of the "o" and the "t" intersects the "t" at the top of the "t", about 1.9 - 2.0mm above the base of the "t". 7. The connector of the "o" and the "t" intersects the "t" just above the cross bar of the "t", about 1.7mm above the base of the "t".
8. Gap in the lower case "a" at the top of the "a". 8. Gap in the lower case "a" is near the top of the "a" but is rotated slightly counter clockwise from the top.

These notes by Jim Beal do not make a lot of difference with regard to analyzing the overall overprint. There should still be gaps in the tops of the "o", "a" and "o" and the overall width of the overprint should be between 14 and 14½mm.

The actual postal circular, circular number 5, that authorized the anotado overprint was created on February 29, 1872 and signed by the Principal Administrator of the Post Office, de Garay y Garay. So any stamp or cover dated before March 1 or after approximately April 25, 1872 (when the 1872 issue stamps were pressed into service) should be considered troublesome. They should not exist.

The ink used to apply that anotado overprint was very black and seems to have held through these past 135+ years. So if the ink on the stamp you are examining is very light be immediately suspicious. The above example is about as light as you should expect.