The North American Intervention (5)
Tome II, p.26: New York to Havana.
5 January, 1901.
As part of its reform of the Spanish/Cuban postal system,
the United States Post Office Department introduced postage
due stamps, to be applied to insufficiently prepaid letters,
their total indicating the amount of postage due to be
collected from the addressee. Under the Spanish Administration,
special postage due stamps were unknown, the amount of
postage due being marked on the face of the envelope in
manuscript, or by handstamp.
The first overprinted United States postage due stamps
were placed in use in Cuba on October 14, 1899. Four different
denominations were used: 1, 2, 5 and 10 centavos de peso.
This cover illustrates a scarce usage of the 10 centavos
de peso stamp, used with three 2 centavos de peso values
for a total postage due of 16 centavos de peso. This odd
amount came about because this letter, posted at New York
on January 5, 1901, was franked with only 2-cents in U.S.
postage. It appears to be mailed to a civilian, not connected
with the North American forces, and was therefore subject
to the Universal Postal Union rate.
Under the Universal Postal Union (U.P.U.) Convention
of Paris, 1878, the international rate of postage for
a letter weighing not more than 15 grams was 25 gold centimes,
or in US currency, 5-cents. In Cuba, the amount was the
same, 5 centavos de peso. The New York post office marked
this short paid letter with their U.P.U. “N.Y./T”
in circle convention handstamp to alert the Cuban authorities
that the letter was short paid.
Cuban postal authorities determined that the letter weighed
between 15 and 30 grams, and consequently should have
been prepaid with 10-cents postage. Since 2-cents had
been paid, they credited the addressee with that, subtracting
2-cents from 10-cents and arriving at 8-cents. Article
5 of the U.P.U. Convention provided for doubling the amount
of the deficiency, as a penalty, so the total amount of
postage due from the addressee became 16 centavos de peso.