Welcome readers to todays offering from The Philatelist. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take the first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Today we have a quandary. What does a new leader do when radicals rebel, forcing out the President, and you the Vice President find yourself elevated. Starting a bank I bet occurred to almost none of you, but it was the right move.
The stamp today is from 1941 Argentina. It includes on the stamp a long ago President, something rare in Latin America. But the left-right divide is always there and it is understandable that the circa 1941 right wingers in charge of Argentina would find the creativity of 50 year before right wingers inspiring. It also gives an excuse to show of one of the new grand edifices of Buenos Aires on a stamp. Combining a historical figure and new impressive architecture on a stamp makes this stamp a winner.
The stamp today is issue A174, a five centavo stamp issued by Argentina on October 26th, 1941. It was a single stamp issue commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Bank of the Nation. Carlos Pellegrini, the founder of the bank and the then President also appears. The stamp was a single issue. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents. As with many stamps I yammer about here, I find this stamp undervalued.
The run up to the founding of the Bank of the Nation in Argentina was an interesting time. A President named Rocca had in cahoots with wealth landowners concocted a scheme that brought in much foreign investment in Argentina. Local operations were able to issue bonds in London that were being marketed as backed by the gold supply of the Argentine government. This created an investment boom that funded railroads and public works but over time the inflows just covered debt service. There of course was not enough gold to actually back all the debt and when the government paid the debt in newly printed currency it initiated a financial panic in 1890 London. Barings Bank had sold most of the defaulted Argentine bonds and they had to be bailed out by a consortium of other London banks. Though such a thing has happened many times since, this was a first.
The default had terrible effects in Argentina. The economy contracted more than 10 percent in one year and Argentina was cut of from further foreign investment. An inept successor to Rocca and long simmering resentment lead to radicals taking to the streets in the hopes the army would also want the government gone. This “Revolution in the Park”was indeed put down by the army but the President did resign.
Carlos Pellegrini, the vice president found himself elevated. With the old debt defaulted, it was a great time to start a local bank that could fund only worthy projects. This house cleaning lead to 25 more years of right wing rule and Pellegrini the nickname “storm sailor”. Mr. Pellegrini also showed how smart he was by not overstaying his welcome and leaving office at the end of his term. The bank he founded is still today the largest bank in Argentina with over 25 % of the local market.
The stamp also shows the edifice of the new bank headquarters building that was built in two stages between 1940 and 1957. It was twice the size of the previous headquarters of the bank. The building was the work of prominent local architect Alejandro Bustillo and done in the French neoclassical style. Mr. Bustillo also designed estacias and hotels including the biggest hotel casino in the world in Mar del Plata. His record was eventually beaten when Donald Trumps’ Taj Mahal Casino opened in Atlantic City in 1990. I am afraid both casinos were too big as they both have had much financial trouble.
Well, my drink is empty so it is time to open up the discussion in the below comment section. I doubt the people revolting in the park were satisfied with President Pellegrini. They eventually took power in 1916 though and not everyone was thrilled with them either. It is probably better to go left when there is money around, even if the opportunity comes when there isn’t. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.