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Haiti
"The Liberty Head" Issues 1881-1887

The Brian Moorhouse Collection

"The Liberty Head" Issues
1881-1887
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Brian's Speeches at the Royal Philatelic Society London

21st May 2015

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, Mr. President, Fellows, members & guests. I hope you have had a chance to look at the Haiti “Liberty Heads” in the frames and I hope you have a copy of the “handout” I prepared to go along with this display. 

Originally, I had thought to talk to you a little about the history of the collecting and research of the “Liberty Heads” issues … a sort of “who’s who” of Haiti philately … I have always had an interest in the history and provenance side of philately but it quickly became apparent that this would take up a major portion of my time this afternoon so, instead, I have written a version of this as an article and it is included in the “handout”. However, I would just like to mention and pay tribute to a couple of famous philatelic names from the past that did pioneering work on the printing and plating of these stamps. These are Leslie L.R. Hausberg and Bertram Poole who were both active collectors of Haiti in the early 1900’s. However, it is a series of articles by James R.W. Purves published in the Collectors Club Philatelist in 1973 that was a truly spectacular piece of philatelic detective work that will surely stand the test of time as being the definitive study of the “Liberty Head” issues !  Needless to say all three gentlemen were members of The Royal Philatelic Society and, interestingly, Hausberg was named as one of the “Fathers of Philately” while both Poole and Purves were signatories of the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists.

It has actually been a little over 100 years since there has been an exclusive showing of the “Liberty Head” issues of Haiti to The Royal Philatelic Society. The last one was back in December 1911 when Hausberg, who I have just mentioned, presented a paper on the subject. You did have some “Liberty Heads” in the frames during Philympia 1970, courtesy of Dr. Norman Hubbard, but it was a shared exhibit floor on that day and, finally, you did have a full display of Haiti in 1995 from F. Burton Sellers, or Bud Sellers as he was more well-known. However, he had actually sold his “Liberty Head” collection some years earlier and his display consisted solely of post-classic Haiti material. 

Before we go any further let me say a quick word on Haiti’s currency. They used centimes and gourde (pron. gord). 100 centimes = 1 gourde and the centimes are usually referred to as “centimes de gourde”, quite a mouthful, in order to differentiate them from French gold centimes. One centime de gourde was the equivalent of five French gold centimes and it was also the equivalent of one US Cent. In order to make life a little easier for this paper, I am, in most instances, going to refer to the Haiti currency as cents rather than centimes de gourde !

In total there are 23 different basic “Liberty Head” stamps. We have six imperforate values all printed from Plate I issued in July 1881. These are 1c, 2c, 3c, 5c, 7c and 20c values.

We then have the same six values perforated printed from Plate II. There were second printings from this Plate II for the five lower values of the set. The Plate II stamps were issued at various dates as required in the 1882-1885 period.

Next was Plate III, which was used for the 2c, 5c and 20c values only. These were issued in the 1885-1886 period. 

A new die was made to print additional 1c and 2c values issued in 1886 and, finally, another new die was made to print further 5c values issued in 1887.

I am going to concentrate mainly on some aspects of the imperforate values but I will bring in an odd mention or two of the perforated stamps.

According to an October 1880 edition of Le Moniteur, the official journal of the Republic, Haiti was originally approved to become a member of the UPU on 1st April 1881. Several days later, the same journal reported that the Legislature had approved a law authorising the issue of a series of postage stamps and that it had been signed by President Salomon. There were a total of thirteen stamps in this proposed series with values ranging from 0.2c to 20c plus a 1 gourde top value.

There were brief announcements made in Le Moniteur in March and April 1881 saying that Haiti’s entry into the UPU had been postponed until 1st July 1881. A week prior to this date, on 23rd June 1881, the National Assembly passed a decree announcing Haiti’s formal entry into the UPU. This was signed by President Salomon the following day and on 1st July 1881, Haiti duly became a member of the UPU.

As I said earlier, Haiti’s first postage stamps were a series of six imperforate values, and not thirteen as originally proposed in October 1880. These featured a “Liberty Head” design and they were issued on the 1st July 1881, the date of joining the UPU. 

The contract to print the first issue of postage stamps for Haiti had been given to a small printing firm, Mon. G. Richards in Paris. The actual “Liberty Head” design was attributed to a Haitian sculptor, Edmond-Louis Laforesterie and it was speculated at the time that the head strongly resembled a likeness of President Salomon’s wife. The stamps were produced by electrotype printing. It is recorded that a wooden die for the design was engraved by Richards and it would seem likely that a wax mould was taken from this in order to make a working die in copper so that separate electrotypes could then be made to form a printing plate of 50 clichés. The numerals for the six different values in the series were mounted on movable metal plugs, which were then dropped into slots that had been cut into the “shield” part of the design at the bottom of each cliché on the plate. This same basic plate was thus used for all six values with just the actual figures of value being changed. 

This method of electrotype printing resulted in various primary flaws affecting some of the clichés on this basic plate while the use of the movable plugs likewise caused secondary flaws in the “shield” area around the various figures of value. The primary flaws are, of course, common to all the six values in the series while the secondary flaws are mostly only common to each specific value. All of the “Liberty Head” stamps printed from Plate I can be plated using these flaws and the same basics hold true for the later perforated issues from Plates II and III.

A detailed study of the progressive wear of these various flaws on the different values by Purves led to the conclusion that the imperforate stamps had been printed in the following order: 20c, 1c, 2c, 3c, 5c and, finally, 7c.

The stamps were all printed on tinted papers and nail head marks and signs of the edges of this lithographic tint plate can be found in the margins on some sheets and multiples. 

New postal rates also came into effect on 1st July 1881 and these remained unchanged until 1st April 1906.

These are mainly as would be expected and the only thing that stands out are the different rates for foreign mail dependent upon whether the length of the sea journey was under or over 300 nautical miles. One thing to note is that the 5c AR fee was collected on an AR form and not alongside the regular postage on the cover

For the “Liberty Head” issues, examples some of these rates are simply not known. No city letter or drop letter items are known, no internal registered letter is known … No domestic postcards or foreign “under 300 nautical miles” postcards are known and no foreign “under 300 nautical miles” printed matter rates are known either.

The numbers of imperforate stamps printed were as follows …

We can see that the highest printing figure was for the 7c value.

It is not an unreasonable supposition to suggest that, at the time of the first order of postage stamps, the anticipated foreign letter rate (over 300 nautical miles) was going to be 7c. The UPU regulations at the time set the basic foreign letter rate for a member at 25 French gold centimes per 15 grams. As previously mentioned, at the time Haiti joined the UPU, the Haiti centime de gourde was equal to the US cent and one centime de gourde was the equivalent of five French gold centimes so the basic foreign letter rate should have been 5c. 

However, the same UPU regulations also allowed a surcharge for conveyance by sea for a distance of more than 300 nautical miles. This surcharge could be added to the regular postal rate and it would seem that the original intention was for Haiti to add an additional 2c to increase the foreign letter rate to 7c. In common with the practice of several other countries, Haiti must have then decided to further increase this surcharge to 5c to make the 10c foreign letter rate for a sea journey of over 300 nautical miles.

As you will have noticed there was no actual single stamp to pay the basic 10c foreign letter rate. When the stamps first appeared the rate was usually made up with two 5c stamps but stocks started to run low very quickly and it was not long before 10c rates were made up with 3c and 7c stamps. 

To give an idea of the lifespan of the various imperforate “Liberty Head” values, the first perforated stamp to actually appear on sale at the post offices was the 5c value circa August 1882. The 1c, 2c and 3c perforated values were all issued during the course of 1883 but it was not until mid 1884 that the perforated 20c value first appeared. Finally in latter half of 1885 the perforated 7c made its appearance. The imperforate 7c and 20c values were still being sold in some post offices as late as 1886.

Now, the one positive thing that the lack of a 10c value did do, was to help create a few interesting frankings. There are multiple ways to make up a 10c rate using the lower values and several of these are shown in the frames. I would stress that, other than the aforementioned 5c + 5c and 3c + 7c combinations, these can all be classed as rare and a few are, presently, the only recorded examples.

As mentioned earlier, Haiti issued its first stamps on 1st July 1881. There are no first day cancels or covers known from this date and the earliest recorded usage of a Haiti stamp is from the following day. This is a pair of 5c values with a Port au Prince cancel of 2nd July 1881. This is shown in the frames.

Also in the frames is the earliest recorded usage on a cover. This is also a pair of 5c values and these are on a cover front to Paris with Port au Prince cancels of 10th July 1881.

300 NAUTICAL MILES

Now, let us take a quick look at the “5c under 300 nautical miles” foreign rate. As I am sure you all know, a nautical mile is 1 minute of 1 degree of the earth’s 360 degree circumference around the equator so a quick piece of mental arithmetic taking the circumference of the earth at 24,900 miles will tell you that 300 nautical miles comes out at just over 345 regular miles. As you can see from the map, this means you can send mail from Port au Prince or Cap Haitien to the Turks and Caicos Islands, to the east end of Cuba (e.g. the port of Santiago de Cuba) or to Kingston, Jamaica. One other possibility was from Cap Haitien in the north to northern ports in the Dominican Republic or from Jacmel in the south to Santo Domingo.

There are just two recorded imperforate 5c “under 300 nautical miles” rate covers and both are from Port au Prince addressed to Kingston, Jamaica and I am pleased to show you one of these. This is endorsed “per Alps” (Hamburg American Line vessel) and it is the earlier date (30th July 1881) of the two.

I also show you two of just three recorded internal rate letters with imperforate stamps. 

The first is a double rate cover from Cap Haitien to Port au Prince with a strip of four 1c values cancelled on arrival (3rd June 1883). This would have travelled by ship and a partial endorsement is just visible under the stamps. 

The second is a triple rate cover with some contents, datelined inside, 1st April 1882, sent between the same two locations and this has a pair of the 3c value also cancelled on arrival (3rd April). This is endorsed ‘Pr. Lotharingia”, also a Hamburg American Line vessel that tragically sank in the Atlantic later that same year. Both these covers were almost certainly handed directly to the ships rather than going through the post office at Cap Haitien.

Another postal rate worthy of mention is the 2c foreign printed matter rate. Just two examples of this rate have been recorded with imperforate stamps and both were sent from Port au Prince in December 1881, one to France, which I am showing, and the other to Luxembourg. 

Moving to registered mail, there are just three recorded registered covers with imperforate stamps. All three of these are in the frames. The first and earliest is a September 1881 cover from Port au Prince to France with two single 3c values and two single 7c values to make up the 20c foreign registered rate. 

The second cover shows the corner card of the President and is dated in April 1885. It was sent from Port au Prince to Paris and is franked with a pair of 7c imperforates plus perforated 1c and 5c values to make up the 20c foreign registered rate. This was originally in the Sellers collection.

The final registered cover is recognised as being one of the two major items of classic Haiti. This is a cover dated December 1885 sent from Jacmel to Hamburg and it is franked with a strip of four of the imperforate 20c value to pay a 7-times foreign registered letter rate. There are just six recorded frankings with the imperforate 20c value and this is the only recorded multiple of this stamp on a cover. This item was originally in the Consul Weinberger collection and the only time I am aware of it being on the open market was at a H.R. Harmer auction in London in 1991.

There are no surviving post office records from this period and at this present time it is unclear how many post offices were actually operating in Haiti at the time of joining the UPU. From postmarks found on stamps and covers it seems quite possible that just three post offices were actually operating: Port au Prince, plus Cap Haitien in the north and Jacmel in the south. 

Throughout the 1880’s cancels from just 11 post offices have been recorded on Liberty Head stamps. Anti-clockwise round the coast from north to south these are:
Cap Haitien
Port de Paix
Gonaives
St. Marc
Port au Prince
Petit Goave
Miragoane  (spelling: Miragoave)
Jeremie
Les Cayes
Aquin
Jacmel

It is possible that others might exist. After all, in the 1790’s, when the French ran the postal system, there were no less than 56 post offices operating throughout the country.

Let us now take a look at what major mint multiples exist for the 1881 imperforate “Liberty Head” issues. We will take each of the values in turn

1c:  The largest mint multiple of the 1c red is the interpanneau block of 70 stamps that includes the ten tête-bêche pairs. This started its recorded history as an uncut double sheet of 100 stamps (two sheets of 50 stamps) and graced the collections of Hausberg, Tows and Hennan before in was reduced in size while in the possession of Dr. Norman Hubbard. After Hubbard it was in the Bustamante collection and, today, I am pleased to be able to show it to you in the frames here. This is the other major item of classic Haiti and it is documented as being shown in its original state to the Royal Philatelic Society by Hausberg back in December 1911 !

The next largest 1c mint multiple is a complete sheet of 50 stamps. Multiples of the 1c value are not rare but there are probably no more than five complete sheets in existence.

2c:  The largest mint multiple of the 2c violet is a complete sheet of 50 stamps. Again, multiples of this stamp are not rare but I am only aware of two intact complete sheets. I show you two sheets here today: The first is intact but the other is separated into two parts comprising the top three rows and the lower two rows. 

This latter (separated) sheet was in the Tows, Lilly and Sellers collections. The separation was mentioned in the 1949 and 1968 catalogue descriptions for both the Tows and the Lilly sales.

A complete sheet less one stamp at Postion 1 is also known for the 2c value and this item was offered in the auction of the Hennan collection.

3c:  The largest mint multiple of the 3c bistre is also a complete sheet of 50 stamps. Yet again, the stamp is not rare in multiples but, in this instance, there is only the one recorded intact sheet and this is shown in the frames. This sheet was in both the Hubbard and Sabattini collections.

5c:  This is a much scarcer stamp in mint multiples. The largest multiple of the 5c green that I have seen is the block of 15 stamps that I show you today. This is three vertical rows of five stamps and it is ex Tows, Lilly and Hubbard. In both the Tows and Lilly collections it was included in a mint plating of a full sheet of the 5c values. In the 1981 sale of the Hubbard collection, where it was offered as a single lot, it was clearly described … “This is the largest block known”

Just over 12 years earlier, in 1968 in London, the Abbot collection had finally surfaced. (You will find more information on this in your copy of the “handout”.) This collection had been put together in the 1890’s period and it was being offered in auction by H.R. Harmer Ltd. Lot 629 is of particular interest: 1881 5c green, part o.g. block of twenty (4 x 5) various creases, also two cracks between the stamps) … Alas, the item was not illustrated.

I have not seen or heard of any reference to this multiple since. Hubbard and Purves were both active participants at this particular auction but it seems unlikely that it was bought by either of them. It is possible that the cracking between the stamps mentioned in the description was particularly bad and that it ended up being cut into smaller blocks at a later date but this is just speculation. The Abbot sale was almost 50 years ago but, nevertheless we should not forget that this multiple might still exist somewhere.

The second largest 5c mint multiple I am aware of is a lower marginal irregular block of seven stamps which is also shown in the frames    Maybe this could have been cut from the above-mentioned Abbot block ?

7c:  This is also a scarce stamp in mint multiples and the largest recorded blocks of the 7c blue are two blocks of twelve, one three across and four down and the other, four across and three down. Both these blocks are ex Abbot, Purves and Lloyd and are in the frames today

The next largest recorded mint multiples for the 7c value are a lower right corner block of nine (3 x 3) and a block of eight. This latter multiple is in a distinctive deep blue shade. Both these blocks were also ex Abbot, Purves and Lloyd

20c:  Finally we come to the high value of the series. The 20c red-brown is a difficult stamp to find in mint multiples. The largest recorded is the block of 15 stamps that I show you today. This is three vertical rows of five stamps from the right side of the sheet with margins on three sides and it is ex Tows, Lilly, Hubbard and Sabattini.

In both the Tows and Lilly auctions it was included in a mint plating of a full sheet of the 20c value. In the catalogue descriptions for both sales it was noted as being a block of 17 stamps and, fortunately, it was illustrated in the latter catalogue, albeit in a very reduced size

The main portion of the block at the right side of the plating was exactly as it is seen today, but in the illustration it is clear that there was a horizontal pair attached at the lower left corner making up the block of 17. The plating was broken up sometime after the Lilly sale and someone obviously went to work with a pair of scissors !  

The second largest recorded mint multiple of the 20c value is a unit of five stamps. I am aware of two such multiples. One is a horizontal strip of five stamps and the other is a lower left corner block of five stamps  (4 + 1) with a nail head mark in the left margin. Both are being shown in the frames

The block of five is particularly interesting as this distinctive multiple was specifically mentioned by Bertram Poole in a 1914 article on the plating of the “Liberty Heads”. It was stated to be in the Hausberg collection. 

If we look again at the illustration of the 20c plating in the Lilly collection we can, in the lower left corner, see this block of five stamps with the distinctive nail head mark in the left margin. 

You will recall that I mentioned the fact that the stamps were all printed on tinted papers and that nail head marks (as just seen) and signs of the edges of this tint plate can be found in the margins on some sheets and multiples. Several examples of these are shown in the frames. Moens, who wrote the first major article on how these stamps were printed, suggested that the lithographic tint plate was big enough that the resultant tinted paper sheets could take six impressions of the sheet of 50 stamps (three across and two down). Both Hausberg and Purves were of the opinion that the tinted paper sheets were smaller and could take just four impressions (two by two). For the moment I am much more inclined to go with the latter theory. Hausberg with his double sheet with two interpanneau impressions of the 1c sheet quite likely had information from the margins that, sadly, is no longer available to us today. Also the printing quantities for the different values are all divisible by 200 (four sheets) but not by 300 (six sheets) and, finally, I have, so far, been unable to find more than four possibly different nail head arrangements from the sheets and multiples that I have or have seen. 

The impressions of the sheets of 50 stamps on the printed tint plate would logically have been done on a work and turn method which is, of course, how we ended up with tête-bêche pairs.

Now the conundrum:  Both the 1c and 2c tête-bêche pairs are printed with the lower frame lines of the stamps facing each other across the interpanneau margin. Now look again at the two 2c sheets I showed you earlier … 

You can see the edge of the tint plate at the top of the first sheet but you can also see the edge of the tint plate at the bottom of the second sheet !  

This seems to suggest that not all 2c stamps were necessarily printed in a tête-bêche format. More research on this is definitely needed !

In the “handout” I prepared to go along with this display, there is a more detailed study I have done on the imperforate tête-bêche pairs. I would point out that these are only known for the 1c and 2c values of the series and that my research has shown that all the recorded pairs of these stamps come from just two interpanneau double sheets of the 1c value and two interpanneau double sheets of the 2c value

Now let us look at a couple of perforated stamps …

I was talking about postal rates a little earlier and I mentioned the 5c domestic and foreign Acknowledgement of Receipt or AR fee for a registered letter. I am showing two such usages: Both are “Service de Postes” AR forms and the first one, dated in January 1886, is franked with a perforated 5c Plate III while the other is dated in May 1887 and is franked with a perforated 5c from the New Die.

It is interesting to see how this system worked. Both these forms accompanied registered letters to Paris: They each consist of a folded sheet of paper that has three separate address panels.

They were first addressed to the post office in Paris and cancelled on arrival. They were then refolded so they were addressed to back to the post office in Port au Prince. The third panel, which you see here, was pre-addressed back to the original sender and it is on this third portion that the 5c stamp to pay the AR fee was affixed and cancelled on the day the original registered letter was sent. Finally, the cancel struck in the lower left corner of this same address panel shows the date the form was actually returned to the Port au Prince post office.

The paper used for these forms was poor quality and very brittle … Very few of these forms have survived the years. 

As stated earlier, there are 23 basic “Liberty Head” stamps: The Stanley Gibbons Central America Catalogue lists all these with separate catalogue numbers: Scott list all the stamps but not necessarily with separate numbers.

If you look at the catalogue prices you will see that the highest priced basic mint “Liberty Head” stamp in both catalogues is the 1881 imperforate 20c red-brown. So is that the scarcest stamp ?  Not by a long way !

I have found that the scarcest mint stamp is the 1882 perforated 5c blue-green Plate II First printing – this is SG 14 or Scott 10 and it has a catalogue price for a mint copy at just £8.50 in Gibbons or $8.25 in Scott. As a used stamp it is fairly plentiful and very easy to find but as a mint stamp it is a very different story 

Purves, when doing his research, made detailed lists of all his “Liberty Head” stamps and, according to these, he had just five single mint copies of this stamp. These undoubtedly went to Lloyd when he sold his collection to him. The mounted Carroll Lloyd exhibition collection contained just three mint singles of this stamp and it is quite likely that all of these all came from Purves. 

In the Sabattini collection offered in Malmo, in the year 2000, I did not see any mint copies of this stamp at all. Sabattini’s mounted album page with this particular 5c printing showed only used stamps.

In my opinion, this mint stamp is probably more rare than the famous U.S. “Inverted Jenny”. There are supposedly over 90 copies of that stamp accounted for and I think you would have an impossible time trying to find anywhere like 90 mint copies of this stamp. Of course, this is a very low profile item and there are bound to be some examples spread about in collections but they are going to be few and far between and they are going to be very hard to find. 

This was the only basic “Liberty Head” stamp that I did not have in a mint multiple so I was very delighted with the recent acquisition of this very fine block of four that had actually been “hiding” on a page of 5c Plate III stamps. 

The recent Scott Catalogue value of this block is $33, so it does not quite match up their value for an “Inverted Jenny” block of four which currently runs around $1.8M … Believe me though, this block is certainly just as rare and, maybe, even rarer.

Maybe those two famous stamp traders, Bill Gross and Donald Sundman, or other collectors of a similar ilk, are watching this on U-Tube … Hi Guys … Can I just let you know that I could be open to a trade if someone with a block of the previously mentioned American stamp would really like to have this nice Haiti block of four …

Thank you all for your attention !  

2003

Before we start let me say a quick word on Haiti’s currency. They used centimes and gourde (pron. gord). 100 centimes = 1 gourde and the centimes are usually referred to as “centimes de gourde”, quite a mouthful, in order to differentiate them from French gold centimes. One centime de gourde was the equivalent of five French gold centimes and it was also the equivalent of one US Cent. In order to make life a little easier I am, in most instances, going to refer to the Haiti currency as cents rather than centimes de gourde !

IMPERORATE

In total there are 23 different basic “Liberty Head” stamps. We have six imperforate values all printed from Plate I issued in July 1881. These are 1c, 2c, 3c, 5c, 7c and 20c values.

PLATE II

We then have the same six values perforated printed from Plate II. There were second printings from this Plate II for the five lower values of the set. The Plate II stamps were issued at various dates as required in the 1882-1885 period.

PLATE III & NEW DIES

Next was Plate III, which was used for the 2c, 5c and 20c values only. These were issued in the 1885-1886 period. 

A new die was made to print additional 1c and 2c values issued in 1886 and, finally, another new die was made to print further 5c values issued in 1887.

LIBERTY HEADS

According to an October 1880 edition of Le Moniteur, the official journal of the Republic, Haiti was originally approved to become a member of the UPU on 1st April 1881. Several days later, the same journal reported that the Legislature had approved a law authorising the issue of a series of postage stamps and that it had been signed by President Salomon. There were a total of thirteen stamps in this proposed series with values ranging from 0.2c to 20c plus a 1 gourde top value.

There were brief announcements made in Le Moniteur in March and April 1881 saying that Haiti’s entry into the UPU had been postponed until 1st July 1881. A week prior to this date, on 23rd June 1881, the National Assembly passed a decree announcing Haiti’s formal entry into the UPU. This was signed by President Salomon the following day and on 1st July 1881, Haiti duly became a member of the UPU.

As I said earlier, Haiti’s first postage stamps were a series of six imperforate values, and not thirteen as originally proposed in October 1880. These featured a “Liberty Head” design and they were issued on the 1st July 1881, the date of joining the UPU. 

The contract to print the first issue of postage stamps for Haiti had been given to a small printing firm, Mon. G. Richards in Paris. The actual “Liberty Head” design was attributed to a Haitian sculptor, Edmond-Louis Laforesterie and it was speculated at the time that the head strongly resembled a likeness of President Salomon’s wife. The stamps were produced by electrotype printing. It is recorded that a wooden die for the design was engraved by Richards and it would seem likely that a wax mould was taken from this in order to make a working die in copper so that separate electrotypes could then be made to form a printing plate of 50 clichés. The numerals for the six different values in the series were mounted on movable metal plugs, which were then dropped into slots that had been cut into the “shield” part of the design at the bottom of each cliché on the plate. This same basic plate was thus used for all six values with just the actual figures of value being changed. 

This method of electrotype printing resulted in various primary flaws affecting some of the clichés on this basic plate while the use of the movable plugs likewise caused secondary flaws in the “shield” area around the various figures of value. The primary flaws are, of course, common to all the six values in the series while the secondary flaws are mostly only common to each specific value. All of the “Liberty Head” stamps printed from Plate I can be plated using these flaws and the same basics hold true for the later perforated issues from Plates II and III.

A detailed study of the progressive wear of these various flaws on the different values by Purves led to the conclusion that the imperforate stamps had been printed in the following order: 20c, 1c, 2c, 3c, 5c and, finally, 7c.

The stamps were all printed on tinted papers and nail head marks and signs of the edges of this lithographic tint plate can be found in the margins on some sheets and multiples. 

New postal rates also came into effect on 1st July 1881 and these remained unchanged until 1st April 1906.

BASIC POSTAL RATES

These are mainly as would be expected and the only thing that stands out are the different rates for foreign mail dependent upon whether the length of the sea journey was under or over 300 nautical miles. One thing to note is that the 5c AR fee was collected on an AR form and not alongside the regular postage on the cover

For the “Liberty Head” issues, examples some of these rates are simply not known. No city letter or drop letter items are known, no internal registered letter is known … No domestic postcards or foreign “under 300 nautical miles” postcards are known and no foreign “under 300 nautical miles” printed matter rates are known either.

The numbers of imperforate stamps printed were as follows …

IMPERFORATE PRINT NUMBERS

We can see that the highest printing figure was for the 7c value.

It is not an unreasonable supposition to suggest that, at the time of the first order of postage stamps, the anticipated foreign letter rate (over 300 nautical miles) was going to be 7c. The UPU regulations at the time set the basic foreign letter rate for a member at 25 French gold centimes per 15 grams. As previously mentioned, at the time Haiti joined the UPU, the Haiti centime de gourde was equal to the US cent and one centime de gourde was the equivalent of five French gold centimes so the basic foreign letter rate should have been 5c. 

However, the same UPU regulations also allowed a surcharge for conveyance by sea for a distance of more than 300 nautical miles. This surcharge could be added to the regular postal rate and it would seem that the original intention was for Haiti to add an additional 2c to increase the foreign letter rate to 7c. In common with the practice of several other countries, Haiti must have then decided to further increase this surcharge to 5c to make the 10c foreign letter rate for a sea journey of over 300 nautical miles.

2 X 5C TO NOUMEA

 

As you will have noticed there was no actual single stamp to pay the basic 10c foreign letter rate. When the stamps first appeared the rate was usually made up with two 5c stamps but stocks started to run low very quickly and it was not long before 10c rates were made up with 3c and 7c stamps. 

3C + 7C TO RHODE ISLAND, USA

To give an idea of the lifespan of the various imperforate “Liberty Head” values, the first perforated stamp to actually appear on sale at the post offices was the 5c value circa August 1882. The 1c, 2c and 3c perforated values were all issued during the course of 1883 but it was not until mid 1884 that the perforated 20c value first appeared. Finally in latter half of 1885 the perforated 7c made its appearance. The imperforate 7c and 20c values were still being sold in some post offices as late as 1886.

Now, the one positive thing that the lack of a 10c value did do, was to help create a few interesting frankings. There are multiple ways to make up a 10c rate using the lower values and several of these are shown in the frames. I would stress that, other than the aforementioned 5c + 5c and 3c + 7c combinations, these can all be classed as rare and a few are, presently, the only recorded examples.

10 X 1C  (three recorded)

3 X 1C + 7C  (three recorded)

2 X 1C + 2C + 2 X 3C (only recorded)

1C + 2C + 3C (3 colour frankings – around six known) 

2 X 1C + 4 X 2C (only recorded)

1C + 3 X 3C (only recorded)

EARLIEST RECORDED DATE

As mentioned earlier, Haiti issued its first stamps on 1st July 1881. There are no first day cancels or covers known from this date and the earliest recorded usage of a Haiti stamp is from the following day. This is a pair of 5c values with a Port au Prince cancel of 2nd July 1881. This is shown in the frames.

EARLIEST RECORDED COVER

Also in the frames is the earliest recorded usage on a cover. This is also a pair of 5c values and these are on a cover front to Paris with Port au Prince cancels of 10th July 1881.

300 NAUTICAL MILES

Now, let us take a quick look at the “5c under 300 nautical miles” foreign rate. As I am sure you all know, a nautical mile is 1 minute of 1 degree of the earth’s 360 degree circumference around the equator so a quick piece of mental arithmetic taking the circumference of the earth at 24,900 miles will tell you that 300 nautical miles comes out at just over 345 regular miles. As you can see from the map, this means you can send mail from Port au Prince or Cap Haitien to the Turks and Caicos Islands, to the east end of Cuba (e.g. the port of Santiago de Cuba) or to Kingston, Jamaica. One other possibility was from Cap Haitien in the north to northern ports in the Dominican Republic or from Jacmel in the south to Santo Domingo.

(60 x 360 = 21,600 nautical miles: divide 249 by 216 = 1.15 x 300 = 345).

UNDER 300 NAUTCAL MILES

There are just two recorded imperforate 5c “under 300 nautical miles” rate covers and both are from Port au Prince addressed to Kingston, Jamaica and I am pleased to show you one of these. This is endorsed “per Alps” (Hamburg American Line vessel) and it is the earlier date (30th July 1881) of the two.

DOUBLE INTERNAL RATE

I also show you two of just three recorded internal rate letters with imperforate stamps. 

The first is a double rate cover from Cap Haitien to Port au Prince with a strip of four 1c values cancelled on arrival (3rd June 1883). This would have travelled by ship and a partial endorsement is just visible under the stamps. 

TRIPLE INTERNAL RATE

The second is a triple rate cover with some contents, datelined inside, 1st April 1882, sent between the same two locations and this has a pair of the 3c value also cancelled on arrival (3rd April). This is endorsed ‘Pr. Lotharingia”, also a Hamburg American Line vessel that tragically sank in the Atlantic later that same year. Both these covers were almost certainly handed directly to the ships rather than going through the post office at Cap Haitien.

FOREIGN PRINTED MATTER RATE

Another postal rate worthy of mention is the 2c foreign printed matter rate. Just two examples of this rate have been recorded with imperforate stamps and both were sent from Port au Prince in December 1881, one to France, which I am showing, and the other to Luxembourg. 

REGISTERED 1

Moving to registered mail, there are just three recorded registered covers with imperforate stamps. All three of these are in the frames. The first and earliest is a September 1881 cover from Port au Prince to France with two single 3c values and two single 7c values to make up the 20c foreign registered rate. 

REGISTERED 2

The second cover shows the corner card of the President and is dated in April 1885. It was sent from Port au Prince to Paris and is franked with a pair of 7c imperforates plus perforated 1c and 5c values to make up the 20c foreign registered rate. This was originally in the Sellers collection.

REGISTERED 3

The final registered cover is recognised as being one of the two major items of classic Haiti. This is a cover dated December 1885 sent from Jacmel to Hamburg and it is franked with a strip of four of the imperforate 20c value to pay a 7-times foreign registered letter rate. There are just six recorded frankings with the imperforate 20c value and this is the only recorded multiple of this stamp on a cover. This item was originally in the Consul Weinberger collection and the only time I am aware of it being on the open market was at a H.R. Harmer auction in London in 1991.

HAITI MAP

There are no surviving post office records from this period and at this present time it is unclear how many post offices were actually operating in Haiti at the time of joining the UPU. From postmarks found on stamps and covers it seems quite possible that just three post offices were actually operating: Port au Prince, plus Cap Haitien in the north and Jacmel in the south. 

Throughout the 1880’s cancels from just 11 post offices have been recorded on Liberty Head stamps. Anti-clockwise round the coast from north to south these are

CAP HAITIEN

PORT DE PAIX

GONAIVES

ST. MARC

PORT AU PRINCE

PETIT GOAVE

MIRAGOANE (Rare – just two examples recorded on stamps)

JEREMIE

LES CAYES

AQUIN

JACMEL

It is possible that others might exist. After all, in the 1790’s, when the French ran the postal system, there were no less than 56 post offices operating throughout the country.

Let us now take a look at what major mint multiples exist for the 1881 imperforate “Liberty Head” issues. We will take each of the values in turn

1C LARGEST MULTIPLE

1c:  The largest mint multiple of the 1c red is the interpanneau block of 70 stamps that includes the ten tête-bêche pairs. This started its recorded history as an uncut double sheet of 100 stamps (two sheets of 50 stamps) and graced the collections of Hausberg, Tows and Hennan before in was reduced in size while in the possession of Dr. Norman Hubbard. After Hubbard it was in the Bustamante collection and, today, I am pleased to be able to show it to you in the frames here. This is the other major item of classic Haiti and it is documented as being shown in its original state to the Royal Philatelic Society by Hausberg back in December 1911 !

1C SHEET

The next largest 1c mint multiple is a complete sheet of 50 stamps. Multiples of the 1c value are not rare but there are probably no more than five complete sheets in existence.

2C SHEET

2c:  The largest mint multiple of the 2c violet is a complete sheet of 50 stamps. Again, multiples of this stamp are not rare but I am only aware of two intact complete sheets. I show you two sheets here today: The first is intact but the other is separated into two parts comprising the top three rows and the lower two rows. 

2C SEPARATED SHEET

This latter (separated) sheet was in the Tows, Lilly and Sellers collections. The separation was mentioned in the 1949 and 1968 catalogue descriptions for both the Tows and the Lilly sales.

A complete sheet less one stamp at Postion 1 is also known for the 2c value and this item was offered in the auction of the Hennan collection.

3C SHEET

3c:  The largest mint multiple of the 3c bistre is also a complete sheet of 50 stamps. Yet again, the stamp is not rare in multiples but, in this instance, there is only the one recorded intact sheet and this is shown in the frames. This sheet was in both the Hubbard and Sabattini collections.

5C BLOCK X15

5c:  This is a much scarcer stamp in mint multiples. The largest multiple of the 5c green that I have seen is the block of 15 stamps that I show you today. This is three vertical rows of five stamps and it is ex Tows, Lilly and Hubbard. In both the Tows and Lilly collections it was included in a mint plating of a full sheet of the 5c values. In the 1981 sale of the Hubbard collection, where it was offered as a single lot, it was clearly described … “This is the largest block known”

Just over 12 years earlier, in 1968 in London, the Abbot collection had finally surfaced. (You will find more information on this in your copy of the “handout”.) This collection had been put together in the 1890’s period and it was being offered in auction by H.R. Harmer Ltd. Lot 629 is of particular interest: 1881 5c green, part o.g. block of twenty (4 x 5) various creases, also two cracks between the stamps) … Alas, the item was not illustrated.

I have not seen or heard of any reference to this multiple since. Hubbard and Purves were both active participants at this particular auction but it seems unlikely that it was bought by either of them. It is possible that the cracking between the stamps mentioned in the description was particularly bad and that it ended up being cut into smaller blocks at a later date but this is just speculation. The Abbot sale was almost 50 years ago but, nevertheless we should not forget that this multiple might still exist somewhere.

5C BLOCK X7

The second largest 5c mint multiple I am aware of is a lower marginal irregular block of seven stamps which is also shown in the frames    Maybe this could have been cut from the above-mentioned Abbot block ?

7C BLOCKs X12

7c:  This is also a scarce stamp in mint multiples and the largest recorded blocks of the 7c blue are two blocks of twelve, one three across and four down and the other, four across and three down. Both these blocks are ex Abbot, Purves and Lloyd and are in the frames today

7C BLOCK X9 & BLOCK X8

The next largest recorded mint multiples for the 7c value are a lower right corner block of nine (3 x 3) and a block of eight. This latter multiple is in a distinctive deep blue shade. Both these blocks were also ex Abbot, Purves and Lloyd

20C BLOCK X15

20c:  Finally we come to the high value of the series. The 20c red-brown is a difficult stamp to find in mint multiples. The largest recorded is the block of 15 stamps that I show you today. This is three vertical rows of five stamps from the right side of the sheet with margins on three sides and it is ex Tows, Lilly, Hubbard and Sabattini.

In both the Tows and Lilly auctions it was included in a mint plating of a full sheet of the 20c value. In the catalogue descriptions for both sales it was noted as being a block of 17 stamps and, fortunately, it was illustrated in the latter catalogue, albeit in a very reduced size

20C PLATING EX TOWS

The main portion of the block at the right side of the plating was exactly as it is seen today, but in the illustration it is clear that there was a horizontal pair attached at the lower left corner making up the block of 17. The plating was broken up sometime after the Lilly sale and someone obviously went to work with a pair of scissors !  

20C STRIP X5

The second largest recorded mint multiple of the 20c value is a unit of five stamps. I am aware of two such multiples. One is a horizontal strip of five stamps. 

20C BLOCK X5

and the other is a lower left corner block of five stamps  (4 + 1) with a nail head mark in the left margin. Both are being shown in the frames

The block of five is particularly interesting as this distinctive multiple was specifically mentioned by Bertram Poole in a 1914 article on the plating of the “Liberty Heads”. It was stated to be in the Hausberg collection. 

20C PLATING EX TOWS

If we look again at the illustration of the 20c plating in the Lilly collection we can, in the lower left corner, see this block of five stamps with the distinctive nail head mark in the left margin. 

You will recall that I mentioned the fact that the stamps were all printed on tinted papers and that nail head marks (as just seen) and signs of the edges of this tint plate can be found in the margins on some sheets and multiples. Several examples of these are shown in the frames. Moens, who wrote the first major article on how these stamps were printed, suggested that the lithographic tint plate was big enough that the resultant tinted paper sheets could take six impressions of the sheet of 50 stamps (three across and two down). Both Hausberg and Purves were of the opinion that the tinted paper sheets were smaller and could take just four impressions (two by two). For the moment I am much more inclined to go with the latter theory. Hausberg with his double sheet with two interpanneau impressions of the 1c sheet quite likely had information from the margins that, sadly, is no longer available to us today. Also the printing quantities for the different values are all divisible by 200 (four sheets) but not by 300 (six sheets) and, finally, I have, so far, been unable to find more than four possibly different nail head arrangements from the sheets and multiples that I have or have seen. 

2C TETE-BECHE

The impressions of the sheets of 50 stamps on the printed tint plate would logically have been done on a work and turn method which is, of course, how we ended up with tête-bêche pairs.

Now the conundrum:  Both the 1c and 2c tête-bêche pairs are printed with the lower frame lines of the stamps facing each other across the interpanneau margin. Now look again at the two 2c sheets I showed you earlier … 

2C SHEET

You can see the edge of the tint plate at the top of the first sheet but you can also see the edge of the tint plate at the bottom of the second sheet !  

2C SEPARATED SHEET

TWO SHEETS – NO TETE-BECHE PAIRS

This seems to suggest that not all 2c stamps were necessarily printed in a tête-bêche format. More research on this is definitely needed !

In the “handout” I prepared to go along with this display, there is a more detailed study I have done on the imperforate tête-bêche pairs. I would point out that these are only known for the 1c and 2c values of the series and that my research has shown that all the recorded pairs of these stamps come from just two interpanneau double sheets of the 1c value and two interpanneau double sheets of the 2c value

Now let us look at a couple of perforated stamps …

5C AR RATE PLATE III

I was talking about postal rates a little earlier and I mentioned the 5c domestic and foreign Acknowledgement of Receipt or AR fee for a registered letter. I am showing two such usages: Both are “Service de Postes” AR forms and the first one, dated in January 1886, is franked with a perforated 5c Plate III while the other is dated in May 1887 and is franked with a perforated 5c from the New Die.

5C AR RATE NEW DIE

It is interesting to see how this system worked. Both these forms accompanied registered letters to Paris: They each consist of a folded sheet of paper that has three separate address panels.

They were first addressed to the post office in Paris and cancelled on arrival. They were then refolded so they were addressed to back to the post office in Port au Prince. The third panel, which you see here, pre-addressed back to the original sender and it is on this third portion that the 5c stamp to pay the AR fee was affixed and cancelled on the day the original registered letter was sent. Finally, the cancel struck in the lower left corner of this same address panel shows the date the form was actually returned to the Port au Prince post office.

The paper used for these forms was poor quality and very brittle … Very few of these forms have survived the years. 

As stated earlier, there are 23 basic “Liberty Head” stamps: The Stanley Gibbons Central America Catalogue lists all these with separate catalogue numbers: Scott list all the stamps but not necessarily with separate numbers.

If you look at the catalogue prices you will see that the highest priced basic mint “Liberty Head” stamp in both catalogues is the 1881 imperforate 20c red-brown. So is that the scarcest stamp ?  Not by a long way !

5C PLATE II FIRST PRINTING

I have found that the scarcest mint stamp is the 1882 perforated 5c blue-green Plate II First printing – this is SG 14 or Scott 10 and it has a catalogue price for a mint copy at just £8.50 in Gibbons or $8.25 in Scott. As a used stamp it is fairly plentiful and very easy to find but as a mint stamp it is a very different story 

Purves, when doing his research, made detailed lists of all his “Liberty Head” stamps and, according to these, he had just five single mint copies of this stamp. These undoubtedly went to Lloyd when he sold his collection to him. The mounted Carroll Lloyd exhibition collection contained just three mint singles of this stamp and it is quite likely that all of these all came from Purves. 

In the Sabattini collection offered in Malmo, in the year 2000, I did not see any mint copies of this stamp at all. Sabattini’s mounted album page with this particular 5c printing showed only used stamps.

In my opinion, this mint stamp is probably more rare than the famous U.S. “Inverted Jenny”. There are supposedly over 90 copies of that stamp accounted for and I think you would have an impossible time trying to find anywhere like 90 mint copies of this stamp. Of course, this is a very low profile item and there are bound to be some examples spread about in collections but they are going to be few and far between and they are going to be very hard to find. 

5C PLATE II FIRST PRINTING BLOCK X4

This was the only basic “Liberty Head” stamp that I did not have in a mint multiple so I was very delighted with the recent acquisition of this very fine block of four that had actually been “hiding” on a page of 5c Plate III stamps. 

The recent Scott Catalogue value of this block is $33, so it does not quite match up their value for an “Inverted Jenny” block of four which currently runs around $1.8M … Believe me though, this block is certainly just as rare and, maybe, even rarer.

Maybe those two famous stamp traders, Bill Gross and Donald Sundman, or other collectors of a similar ilk, are watching this on U-Tube … Hi Guys … Can I just let you know that I could be open to a trade if someone with a block of the previously mentioned American stamp would really like to have this nice Haiti block of four …

Thank you all for your attention !