Although an independent country since 1830, a postal system was not established in Ecuador until 1865. Until 1880 the British handled external mail and the Ecuadorian authorities handled internal mail. The early stamps were printed locally and have a coat of arms design in a frame, much like that of contemporary French stamps.
During the 1890s, Ecuador gave a ten-year contract for the production of postage stamps to Henry Etheridge. Under the contract, he provided the stamps for free. However, the country would issue a new series each year, and Etheridge would have the remainders and reprint rights for the philatelic market. Etheridge sold these rights to Nicholas Seebeck, whose Hamilton Bank Note Company issued Ecuador's 1892, 1894, and 1895 stamps. Even though the contract was cancelled by the government in 1895, Seebeck's reputation and his numerous reprints may have, in spite of the relatively brief association, given Ecuador philately an undeserved reputation.
D'Elia, R. and Armitage, D. Ecuador: The Philately of the Seebeck Era, 2005.