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Selected works of Jaime Martins Barata (1899-1970)

Stamps, notes and coins

In 1940, the Portuguese Post Office (CTT) invited Martins Barata to design a stamp commemorating the Portuguese World Expo.  For Martins Barata, this raised a new challenge: although he already had considerable experience in the graphic arts, designing a stamp created a number of specific technical and artistic problems.

Martins Barata saw the stamp not only as a tool of exchange but also as a true medium of art expression and exhibition, one that reaches all strata of the population, both home and abroad.  His ideas and his work were well received.  In fact, the high regard (and collectible value) that Portuguese stamps have acquired over the years owes a great deal to his work.

From 1940 and until his retirement, Martins Barata created dozens of stamps for the Portuguese Post Office.  Below is a very brief selection of his work in this area.

This 1943 stamp represents the caravel, the Portuguese naval creation of the 1400s that revolutionized ocean navigation.  It forms part of a series of stamps, all with the same image, different colors corresponding to different values.

The caravel stamps continued to be printed for many years.  They were replaced in 1953 by the cavalinho (little horse) series.  The drawing represents Dennis, one of Portugal's first kings.  As its predecessor, the cavalinho series was used for many years to come.

In addition to the "permanent" stamp series (Caravel and Cavalinho), Martins Barata produced a number of special commemorative stamp series.  In 1945, the Portuguese Post Office issued the Portuguese navigators series.  The 1 Escudo stamp shown here represents Pedro A. Cabral, the first Portuguese to reach Brazil.

In 1969, a special series was issued to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the birth of Vasco da Gama, the famous Portuguese navigator who first sailed from Europe to India.  This stamp was one of Martins Barata's last works in stamp design.

For a wider listing of stamps--though still far from complete--consult the Portuguese page.

Of related interest is the work of Martins Barata in the design of notes and coins.  The image on the left shows two of a series of studies for a new issue of Angolan notes, commissioned in 1945.  The unusual detail of the drawings is not so much the result of artistic choice as it is of safety considerations: given the printing technology available at the time, complexity of design was the best safegard against falsification.

These 2.5, 5 and 10 Portuguese Escudo coins were in circulation for decades until the advent of the euro.  The head side displays the Portuguese coat of arms, also seen on the Portuguese flag.  The tail side shows a typical 15th Century caravel.

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