In 1986, Mainsheet (Vol. II, No. 42, April 1986, pp. 46-47) published an article of mine on the Juan Montalvo five cents letter card (H&G A5). Based on documentation (Official Registry No. 1064, August 3, 1911) I stated that the card was issued on August 1911, the day in which the city of Ambato celebrated the inauguration of a park named after its famous son, Juan Montalvo, erecting at the same time a statue in his memory. The date was in conflict with the year shown in the Higgins & Gage Catalogue which was 1907. My argument was based on the Official Registry, after all, nothing is legal before it is not published in this public document.
In a subsequent article in Mainsheet (Vol. 25, No. 97, February 2000, pp. 11-16) Brian Moorhouse, the editor of the Journal raised the question how this can be possible if he has a letter card mailed on January 10, 1907. The following investigation revealed that not only was the date valid but that the letter card was used consistently and continuously beginning 1907.
|HG A5.- Circulated beginning January 1907. Legally valid for distribution August 10, 1911 – February 10, 1913|
In an attempt to explain this discrepancy we investigated the Official Registry with respect to the monthly inventory listing of the Ministry of Finance.
There, we discovered that for the whole year of 1906 until the month of December, the balance listed a total of 18,465 cards with a nominal value of five cents. This number remained constant through the year.
In December the amount changed to 48,465 or on increase of 30,000 cards. Where did these additional cards come from especially since Ecuador did not issue any 5 c. cards after 1889?
The most plausible explanation is that the Juan Montalvo letter card was authorized and distributed beginning 1907 but the decree was not signed by the President of the Republic. Even if that were the case it was not published in the Official Registry which would render the authorization illegal. Suffice it to say that there is no record that the Juan Montalvo letter card was authorized for release in the year 1906 or at least no record was found to substantiate its issuance.
|Unlisted.- Legally valid for distribution beginning February 10, 1913|
In my article, I also suggested that the Montalvo card was valid for postage only until February 10, 1913 (Official Registry No. 132, February 10, 1913). This, because a large number of the cards disappeared from government deposits. This resulted in putting a control frame around the stamp of the card so that the only cards valid for usage beginning February 10, 1913 had to show the new black control frame. The usage of all other cards was subject to a fine. In July 18, 1919, a new red control frame was introduced which is known in two colors, carmIne and dark red (Official Registry No. 847, July 18, 1919).
To sum up the story of the Juan Montalvo letter card we have established that it was used beginning January, 1907, but that its usage was only legalized on August 3, 1911. It was replaced by one with a black control mark on February 10, 1913 and by one with a red control mark on July 18, 1919. Subsequently, the remainders were demonetized and used for a variety of other reasons.
HG A6.- Legally valid for distribution beginning July 18, 1919
It remains to be seen if someone can come up with a used copy of a card with a black control mark prior to February 10, 1913 and one with a red control mark prior to July 18, 1919. I shall be the last one to be surprised.