The creation of the postage stamp as a form of collection and payment was a method that revolutionized the mail service worldwide. In Mexico, it was not until 1856 when the government of then-President Ignacio Comonfort issued the decree that instructed the printing of the first postage stamps, showing the image of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. This design fulfilled the mission of disseminating through postage stamps the characters, sites, data, and historical events of the country.
The printing of this first series of postage stamps was done by the draftsman José Villegas, who was also head of the Government Stamp and Printing Stamp Office. The design and engraving were made under a technique known as rotogravure, which consisted of the use of a copper plate to make the stamping on papers of different thicknesses joined together. On the upper part, the legend "Correos Méjico" stood out.
This was distributed in sheets with seventy copies that could be cut out by hand or with sharp objects. To differentiate its cost, it was divided into five colors: lilac for the most expensive sheet of 8 Reales (the official currency of the time); red for a cost of 4 Reales; green for the value of 2 Reales; yellow for the price of one Real and blue for the amount of half a Real. These plates circulated until 1861 when their value was modified at 7 different prices.
For their use, a regulation was issued by the Stamp Office. This regulation dictated that the stamps were to be affixed to the correspondence by postal employees and expressed in itself the payment of the correspondence. Furthermore, a postage stamp was canceled by affixing a black stamp that covered the origin of the letters.
Over the years, the arrival of stamps from other countries and the issuance of new national designs brought about the activity known as "philately". This technique and hobby of collecting postal documents included stamps, as well as their history and study. As a discipline, it was divided into three periods: ancient, classical, and modern. The last one, according to the different studies of Mexican philatelists, began with the issuance of the first postal stamp alluding to the Air Mail in 1922, with a value of 50 cents.
Since that year the Mexican Postal Service has issued more than 2 thousand stamps, creating the so-called "Regular Series Places and Monuments", composed of nine stamps. By 1954 there were 23 different postage stamps with face values ranging from five cents to twenty pesos. Some of the stamps that circulated in Mexican territory during what is considered the modern era for philately are found in the Colección Timbres Postales of the graphic archives of the General Archive of the Nation.
This collection has 569 air and land postage stamps. Of these, 431 are national stamps and others of international origin: 107 are from the United States; 10 from Italy; 7 from France; 7 from Spain; 4 from Colombia; 2 from Chile, and one from Argentina.
Among the national stamps, there are some that show in their designs colonial architecture, commemorations to the army, images of pre-Hispanic figures, and campaigns against diseases such as malaria. The international postage stamps stand out for having most of their prices in cents, as in Mexico, and their designs invoke the diffusion of places, monuments, and representative characters of the countries, as well as institutions recognized worldwide such as the United Nations Organization.
Despite the decrease in the use of mail due to the appearance of new technologies, postage stamps continue to be reproduced with a diversity of designs and themes that commemorate important dates, decorate important events that take place in the country, and the identity that has made history in Mexico.