UPU members were required to send a number of their new pieces (both stamps and postcards) to Bern, where they were then distributed to the other states of the union as specimens. They were sent to let the postal administrations know about the new copies issued in the other countries and thus, hopefully, prevent fraud. These specimens were marked with different stamps as SPECIMEN or MUESTRA among others. One particular one, ULTRAMAR, was placed for the Portuguese colonies.
Along with the copies that the UPU sent to each postal administration, it also sent an annual circular where it gave an account of the new copies catalogued according to its own numbering. This was in the form 123.456. Sometimes with a N# prefix. The UPU also maintained their own collection but they were marked differently.
They marked the specimens in their collection with the same numbering, but added the year at the end, so we find pieces with markings of the form 123.456vXXXX where XXXX was the year with two or four digits. Sometimes they would exchange the points for /.
Many of these pieces are glued on the back, as they were stored in the UPU reference collection. Also, it is usual to find these marks on the back of the pieces.
In this article I show what is perhaps the oldest specimen in the UPU collection for Venezuela -and perhaps in Venezuela philately- since this practice began in 1878. It was included in the 1880 circular under number 224.21 as indicated by the mark on the front.