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The Doris Story - A small postal tiff between Colombia and Great Britain in 1867

14 Nov 2015 - I made some comments recently on writing philatelic books. But there is nothing like an example!

Whilst researching my book on the history of the British Post Office in Colombia, I was drawn into a tale (which I have called the Doris Story, the “Doris” having been a warship operating in the Caribbean in the nineteenth century). As I was led on, it became clear that this had to become a side-line; it would have taken up too much space in the broader picture. More than a philatelic work, it began to impinge on politics, social history, the military background.

Would you believe it became a detective story?

Information in an early twentieth century stamp magazine took me to the British Newspaper Library in Colindale; from there I was attracted to the Caird Library at the Maritime Museum. So entranced was I in the personalities involved especially in Colombia’s president of the time, the Gran General Tomås Cipriano de Mosquera, that I ended up in the Colombian southern university town of Popayån.

Mosquera was born there. It was his family’s political base. His home there is now a museum and library. At the time of my visit the longstanding rebel army, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, was particularly active, especially in this area. A British philatelist would have been a fine catch possibly leading to a hefty ransom. Not knowing what a philatelista was, they could have taken me for a spy, as have ornithologists in the past! So I approached the British Embassy, to be assured I should be safe as long as I did not wander far beyond the airport. Much to my disappointment as Mosquera had a country estate (called Coconut) not far out of town, but along a road controlled by the rebels. Who knows what titbits I might have found to embellish the story.

This protracted article was published a few years ago by a philatelic magazine in the States. But it was not given the treatment in deserved. It was spread over a number of editions of the magazine and lost continuity between the pages. Here is the entirety if you have the time and the patience!

I apologise for the absence of sources. There are the same as I used for my book; if you are really interested you have to refer to it - The British Post Office in Colombia 1821 - 1881.


Published on 14 Nov 2015 | Mr Malcolm Bentley