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Valira Torrent - bulletin of the Andorran Philatelic Study Circle. Issue 39, pp6-7 (Apr 1994).
Few postage stamps are issued today without consideration of their likely appeal to stamp collectors. Many are issued with barely a thought as to their possible postal usage. The "Servei d'Emissions" of the "Vegueria Episcopal", however, has claimed no pretension to legitimate usage since it first began selling its wares in 1978, even though many of its issues have the superfluous inscription "Franquicia Interior". From their beginning, whether souvenir sheets, postcards or aerogrammes, they have only been regarded as optional items for Andorran collectors to collect or not as they wish.
The first souvenir sheet, released on 1st November 1978, was without doubt their best production. It gave many collectors a chance to own, for a trifling sum, good reproductions of the very rare Douchet essays of circa 1910. The sheet was printed by Heraclio Fournier, Vitoria, the well-known Spanish security printers. This was followed in 1979 by the first "Europa" sheet, also of interest to philatelists, showing the 1848 postmarks of Seu d'Urgel and Ax-les-Thermes. In 1981 a series of eighteen reproductions of other rare essays, usually also attributed to Douchet, was issued printed on folded card.
Subsequent issues, of varying degrees of artistic merit and philatelic interest, have covered historic events, Olympic Games, Andorran architecture, Christopher Columbus and so on - often reflecting the postal issues of the French and Spanish post offices.
Since 1992, with the days of the Vegueria drawing to a close, the "Servei d'Emissions" has issued no fewer than ten souvenir sheets. These all use "recycled" designs of Spanish P0 issues of 1929, 1948 and 1963. Although they are all printed by the FNMT they are but cheap multi-coloured productions, and which bear no relation to the finely engraved originals.
As mentioned at the beginning of this short article, three sets of postcards were also issued between 1979 and 1982, together with numerous other postal stationery items including aerogrammes - also labelled "Franquicia Postal Interior"! Any potential collector wishing to know more should refer to the carefully produced brochure compiled by Mr Pere Mateu in May 1988, and published by Philandorre (*) - this lists all available items up to that date.
The recent political and constitutional changes in Andorra have now reduced the once-powerful Co-Princes to the modern conception of constitutional monarchs and the Veguers are no more. Their offices in Andorra have become the Embassies of France and Spain, and the establishment of a single Andorran postal service will soon be upon us.
So, after some fifteen years of existence, we say farewell to the curious productions of the Vegueria Episcopal - which cost very little and are probably worth even less. However, as we go to press, we learn of the creation of a "new" organisation called - yes, you've guessed it! - the "Servei d'Emissions Episcopal". Watch this space for further details.....
(*) brochure available from W. A. Jacques, price £3 plus 35p postage.
Illustrations which follow include the first Douchet sheet, 1979 Europa, Andorra Romanica '86, and two recent sheets showing the Incles Valley and the Meritxell Cross.
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