The Bull’s Eye issue was so named as the design of the value figures inside an oval setting had the appearance of a bull’s eye, and was issued on 1st August 1843; it was therefore the second stamp issue which was not a local issue after the Penny Black in 1840. The design may have been taken from a bank note and produced on an engraving press held in the Brazilian Mint in Rio de Janeiro. They were produced imperforate on un-watermarked paper.
J.D. Sturtz, a German who had been Brazilian consul to Prussia, with the aid of a British charge d’affaires suggested that the adoption of prepaid postage stamps similar to those in Britain would be useful to the economy of Brazil. On 29th November two bills were passed amongst which stated that postage was to be prepaid, and that postage stamps were necessary for this; the Brazilian government then promulgated Law No.43 to create stamps on 30th November 1841.
Before the use of postage stamps in Brazil, postage rates were calculated by weight and distance, but due to the size of the country this could be expensive, and also complicated if there was a combination of land and water being travelled. Prior to the introduction of stamps, it was decided that all letters sent by land required a rate of 60 reis for the first four-eighths ounce and 30 reis for each additional two-eighths ounce; all mail sent by sea required 120 reis for the first four-eighths ounce and 60 reis for each additional two-eighths ounce. Therefore, three values were produced: 30 reis, 60 reis and 90 reis.
In 1841 the Brazilian customs authorities had seized an engraving machine from a Pedro Ludwig, which was confiscated and put it into use at the Brazilian Mint. On 24th December 1842, a transferring machine and accessories were bought from Eduardo Lemerick, so that the Mint could print the postage stamps. At first the design of the new stamps was to include a portrait of the emperor, but the cancellation of the stamp might have been considered disrespectful at that time. All Bull’s Eyes were printed in Rio de Janeiro and a total of six printing plates were produced.
The first two plates were of fifty-four stamps composed of panels of eighteen stamps of each value in three horizontal rows of six stamps. Plate 3 had fifty-four stamps but only of the 30 reis denomination; plate 4 had 60 stamps again only the 30 reis and arranged in ten rows of six stamps. Plates 5 and 6 both had sixty stamps but only with the 60 reis denomination in the same arrangement as plate 4.
At first the postage stamps were only used in Rio de Janeiro, possibly as a trial period, and after thirty days they were distributed for use in the main post offices throughout the Empire of Brazil. Some 220 post office cancellations are known with Rio de Janeiro, Nictheroy and Pernambuco being the most common.
The printing of Bull’s Eyes ceased at the end of 1843 with the sale of existing stocks authorised on 22nd August 1844; However, the remaining stocks were burnt in the courtyard of the Brazilian Mint on 30th March 1846, and few are known used after 1850 (especially with some examples used at Cuiabá). For this reason and because they were frequently used by being placed on the flap on the back of an envelope and damaged when the letter was opened, these stamps are considered scarce with faults to be expected.
Lot 10115: 60r black on reverse of 3 October 1852 entire letter from Cuiabá to Rio de Janeiro, usually found. The letters from Cuiabá -six recorded and all with the same franking- are highly desirable as these represent the latest usages recorded in the “Bull’s Eyes” issue (the latest being 13 March 1854).