No sooner that we "revisited" the Juan Montalvo letter card on our blog than Berni Beston, member of the Ecuador Study Group, sends us a copy cancelled in Atuntaqui, in 1899, eight years prior to what we said was the date the letter card was released to the public. At least this is the year the card begins to appear in circulation.
The letter card,which we received is genuine in every respect. It shows an "Administración de Correos / Atuntaqui / Encomiendas / 1899" cancellation, and is directed from Atuntaqui, a village close to Otavalo, to Quito. There is no message or manuscript date on the reverse. The handwriting on the address side appears to be genuine.
A heretofore undiscovered contract between the Ecuadorian government and Waterlow & Sons Ltd. of London between 1897-1907 resulted in the issuance of several sets of postage stamps (Scott 127-134, 137-144, 146-152 and 166-173) in addition to fiscal and telegraph stamps. If also provided the nation with two stationery wrappers which arrived along with the first stamps in 1897 but were not released until October 1898. Most likely, the Juan Montalvo letter card was also part of this shipment, unless it was delivered simetimes prior 1907.
It appears to have been initially used in 1907 as reported elsewhere but no officially authorized for release. Then, in 1911, a government decree provided for the letter card to be released to the public. There exists a difference in the lettering "Este lado está reservado para la dirección" to the left of the stamp between the first and second printing. Also, a difference exists in the lettering below the perforation lines of the letter card which, unfortunately, is not present on the card received.
The letter card presented to us is of the second printing, as shown below, and could have only appeared in 1911 but not in 1899 or 1907. It is, therefore, our finding that the letter card presented shows a favor cancellation from Atuntaqui which, given the size of the village should not have been difficult to obtain.
Not showing a message on the reverse could also imply that the letter card was never mailed and that the cancel was applied as a favor, a practice not too uncommon even today.
So, while the usage of the card, appears to be genuine, the historical evidence proves otherwise and places it in the doubtful category.