The United States of Colombia (Estados Unidos de Colombia in Spanish) was the name adopted in 1861 through the Rionegro Constitution for the Granadine Confederation, following years of civil war. Colombia became a federal state itself composed of nine “sovereign states” comprising the present-day nations of Colombia and Panama and parts of northwestern Brazil. Until the revolution of 1885, the separate states were sovereign states in their own right. The Federal State of Antioquia (Estado Federal de Antioquia) was created on June 11, 1856, making up most of the present-day Department of Antioquia with three provinces: Antioquia, Córdoba and Medellín. Antioquia became a sovereign state in 1858, by recognition as Estado de la Federación in the constitution of the Granadine Confederation. The division of the state was changed to six departments in 1859, seven in 1864 and five later that same year. The constitution of the United States of Columbia called the state Estado Soberano de Antioquia (Sovereign State of Antioquia).
On August 4, 1886, the National Council of Bogotá, composed of two delegates from each of the states, adopted a new constitution which abolished the sovereign rights of the states. They then became departments with governors appointed by the President of the Republic. The nine original states represented at the Bogotá Convention retained some of their previous rights, as management of their own finances.
Antioquia issued its first postage stamps on September 1 1868. A postal exchange agreement with the sovereign state of Bolívar was established a few years later. With the Constitution of 1886, the sovereign state became a department but they continued with their postal services and stamps until 1906, when the national government took over all the services previously performed by the departments.
The small quantity of stamps issued, the lithographic printing and the variety of papers used make Antioquia a very special and interesting area of Colombian philately. With many stamps no complete sheet exists and with some stamps the largest multiple is only a pair. There was often a very small quantity of stamps printed, only 258 of some and no more than 1,000 of others. Covers of that period are even scarcer than the classic Colombian covers that are recorded. Only very few hand stamps (postal markings) were used, and most stamps were cancelled in manuscript with the name of the town of origin.
Today’s stamp, Scott #123, was part of a lithographed set of eleven released in 1899 all portraying General José María Córdoba in a variety of denominations and colors. The 10 centavo scarlet stamp is perforated 11; there are numerous part-perforated and imperforated varieties of each of these stamps.