Valira Torrent - bulletin of the Andorran Philatelic Study Circle. Issue 55, pp7-10 (March 2002)

Copyright notice

Andorran Post Offices Past and Present (Part 2)

By E. J. Jewell

Part 1

Andorra la Vella - Spanish (update)

The use of the supplementary counter in the Carrer de l’Aigüeta is now clearer. I stated incorrectly that lista de correos mail could be collected from the main counter. It is, in fact, available at the supplementary counter. The main purpose of this facility in the Carrer de l’Aigüeta is the collection of parcels by their addressees and their customs clearance. The counter is staffed by one postal worker and one customs officer. The counter has a Correos y Telegrafos datestamp similar to those at the main counter. Lista de Correos mail is backstamped with it on arrival and again on collection. The strikes are generally clearer than those on mail cancelled at the main counter.

The agencies

Ordino postmark 1.1.1928 Unless otherwise stated, the French agencies first opened on 16 June 1931 and the Spanish ones on 1 January 1928. It has been suggested, however, that not all of the agencies may have functioned precisely from these dates as it may have taken a few days for a postal official to visit the villages to instruct the agents in their duties. "First day" postmarks should not be relied upon as evidence that the agency was active on that date. In the early days there was very little postal traffic in the villages and the agents would generally oblige a passing philatelist by re-setting the date. A Madrid dealer is known to have visited Andorra in 1928 and may be the source of 1 ENE 28 postmarks which have been seen.

Sant Julià de Lòria -

  - French

St Julia French agency
St Julia French agency
Fig. 12 (left, Photo: C. Romo, 1972),
Fig. 13 (above, photo E. J. Jewell, 2000).
The French agency.
Derek Tanner (1953) described the French agency as being on the the right (facing Spain) of the main street. By the time of my visit in 1962 it had moved to a side street a little further towards France. Figs. 12 and 13 show the building as it was and as it is today, little changed. The agency remained there for some years. It then moved (some time after 1978?) to a small shop on the left hand side main street, this time at the southern end of the "square" - the oval shaped widening of the street towards its southern end (Avinguda Verge de Canolich - Fig. 14). There it remained until the summer of 2000 when it moved to its present location on the same side of the street but now at the northern end of the square (Fig. 15). Opening hours are currently 9am to noon weekdays, 9am to 11am Saturday.

French & Spanish (S. end of square) French agency (N. end of square)
Fig. 14 French and Spanish (S. end of square) Fig. 15 French agency (N. end of square)
Photos: E. J. Jewell

 - Spanish

Derek Tanner (1953) found the agency on the right hand side of the main street in a small shop not far from the Reig tobacco factory. It was still there in 1962. By 1964 (?) it had moved. I found it in an electrician’s shop at the southern end of the square, next door to the shop to which the French agency later moved.

The electrical shop The gift shop
Fig. 16 The electrical shop with posting box on the side wall.
(Photo: Liedel, Andorra-Philatelie, 1978)
Fig. 17 The same shop, now a gift shop. (Photo: E. J. Jewell, 2000 - shortly after the Spanish agency moved but before the French agency moved).
The only indication of it being a post office was a posting box on the side wall.
The new agency
Fig. 18. The new Spanish agency
(Photo: E. J. Jewell, 2002)
The electrician’s later became a gift shop (pre-1973) but remained a postal agency. The postal facilities at the shop were minimal - a shoe box containing an assortment of stamps and machine labels and a roll of registration labels. The posting box was moved to the front but there remained for a time nothing else to indicate the presence of a postal agency. More recently the Correos y Telegrafos logo has been displayed. The post office remained there until the summer of 2000 when, like the French agency, it moved to the northern end of the square. They are now once again almost next door to each other. Opening hours are 9.30am to 12.30 weekdays; 10am to noon Saturday.

Santa Coloma

Santa Coloma 1962
Fig. 19. Santa Coloma
(Photo: E. J. Jewell, 1962).
The Riberaygua house is on the left by the pylon.
Santa Coloma has never had a French agency. Spanish agencies here and at Soldeu opened later than the rest, the one at Santa Coloma opening on 8th October 1928. These are smaller villages than those where the other agencies are situated. The justification for an agency at Santa Coloma seems somewhat slender as it is the smaller of the two villages and fairly close to the capital. Nevertheless the agency at Santa Coloma survived until very recently whereas that at Soldeu closed after a few years despite being more justifiable on the grounds of the size of the village and distance from the nearest alternative post office (Canillo).

The Riberaygua house
Fig. 20. The Riberagua house as it is now. (Photo: E. J. Jewell, 2000).
Derek Tanner (1953) described the post office as being in a sort of inn down a side turning from the main road. All it had was a small box containing stamps and the canceller and ink pad. He did not recall there being any post box. In 1962 I found a posting box - a slit in a barn door - at the point where Derek indicated. The post office itself was in a large house, the home of the Riberaygua family, prominently situated on a bend of the main road at the junction of the lane leading to the church. The postal facility was a substantial antique desk in the living room. Although no longer a post office, the Riberaygua house remains little altered to the present day.

Posting boxes by the appartments
Fig. 21. Posting boxes adjoining the apartment building. (Photo: Liedel, 1978).
The typewritten notice is in the panel near the bottom of the Spanish box.
By the mid 1960s the post office had moved. On the wall of an apartment building further up the road towards Andorra la Vella I found a posting box. A typewritten notice on the box directed you to an adjoining apartment building 1° 2ª. I rang the bell at the second door on the first floor (the right hand of two at the turn of the stairs). Sure enough, it was a postal agency. The set up here was very similar to the that at the Riberaygua house (the agency may well have remained in the family) - a desk in the living room. By the late 1970s the typewritten notice had faded and become illegible. Anyone not knowing where to look would have been unlikely to find the agency. A French posting box had by now appeared on the wall of this building to confuse matters further. Goudard (1990) confirms this location of the post office.

New Santa Coloma agency
Fig. 22. The new Santa Coloma agency. (Photo: E. J. Jewell, 2000).
In 1999 the agency was no longer in the apartment building. It now occupied a small single storey building set back from the road in a narrow gap between a pharmacy and an Alfa Romeo garage. These are just a few paces down from the apartment building in the direction towards the church. It closed during the summer of 2001 and the building is now a bar of sorts.

Les Escaldes

There has never been a French agency at Les Escaldes, the locality being served by the main office at Andorra la Vella.

New Santa Coloma agency
Fig. 23. The present post office in avenue de Gaulle. (Photo: E. J. Jewell, 2000).
Derek Tanner (1953) described the Spanish agency as being in a blacksmith’s in a side street, "Calla Estrecha", leading off the main road opposite the Hotel Pla. No stamps were on sale there but they could be obtained in an evil-smelling grocery/greengrocery shop nearby. By 1962 it had moved to Engordany. To reach it one crossed the old stone bridge by the Hotel Pla and it was about 100 metres further on, on the right hand side of the street. Stamps were on sale at a souvenir shop opposite the Hotel Pla.

From there the agency moved (? date - between 1970 and 1973) to another street leading towards Engordany, the avenue de Gaulle, which leaves the main road immediately before the church. The post office is in a municipal building which comprises a row of offices and a swimming bath. It remains there to the present day. Opening hours: 9am to 2pm weekdays; 10am to noon Saturday.

(To be continued. The next part will include la Massana and Ordino)

A reminder: This series is published in the hope that readers will be able to provide corrections and additions to the information and photographs, particularly early ones of agencies which have now moved. If you have anything relevant, please contact the author or editor. e-mail

Part 1

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Andorran Philatelic Study Circle / Hon. Librarian: E. J. Jewell / apsc@free.fr /
Updated 1st May 2002