Smithsonian National Postal MuseumTitle: The Pichs CollectionSan Carlos Institute
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Smithsonian National Postal Museum The Pichs Collection, Exploring Cuba's History Through Postage Stamps
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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.

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