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 Articulo Puripex 2009 - Bisected stamps used in Puerto Rico

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Fecha de inscripción : 16/09/2010
Localización : Toa Baja, Puerto Rico

MensajeTema: Articulo Puripex 2009 - Bisected stamps used in Puerto Rico   Dom Oct 03, 2010 9:29 pm

By: Hans J.A. Vinkenborg

Over the years, the use of bisected stamps in Puerto Rico on covers or documents has been mentioned in many articles and books. In this presentation I would like to summarize the findings so far and show better scans of the covers since most of the old pictures are quite vague while more covers have been found in the last few years. After an introduction I will show the covers known so far and briefly describe them.

Introduction.

Bisected stamps in the mail were always quite common in Cuba and in many other countries including Spain, but were always very rare in Puerto Rico. This was simply because there were usually sufficient stamps available in the post offices in Puerto Rico with a nominal value equal to or smaller than the amount necessary to pay the required postage-rate. When a very low rate was necessary in Havana, Cuba, for local mail within the city, the unused stamps of a high value were simply overprinted with a Y ¼ overprint and used for the local mail. But in Puerto Rico there appeared to be no need to make such an overprint or to use bisected stamps.

Among the publications by F. Billig, R.B. Preston and M.H. Sanborn, J.I. Garcia-Lomas and others, there were also two publications by dr. Cesar W. Rivera-Carrasquillo about bisected stamps used in Puerto Rico. This was published in the magazine of the Sociedad Filatélica de Puerto Rico (SFPR) of December 1982 and another summary of that article in the Puripex 1995 publication. In my presentation I will present the pictures in the same following order as dr. Rivera-Carrasquillo did. My interest in the bisected stamps of Puerto Rico lead to acquiring 6 of the known covers over the last few years which are now all part of my Puerto Rican collection.

Fritz Billig

In Billig’s Philatelic Handbook, volume VI, published in 1946, I found the first reference to the existence of bisected stamps used in Puerto Rico. In a large well illustrated article of 47 pages on Puerto Rican philately, amongst others many forgeries were shown which were known at that time. The publication takes the form of a catalogue and on page 133 it is stated that the 10 centimos 1869 stamp was known to have been used bisected in both Cuba and Puerto Rico giving the Puerto Rican usage a $25 value and the Cuban usage a $3.50 value. It is not stated in this book if this Puerto Rican bisected usage has ever been seen and there is no further information on this statement.

Preston and Sanborn.

Preston’s first article in which he mentioned a Puerto Rican cover with a bisected stamp was included in his book “The Postal history of Puerto Rico” which appeared in October 1950. He wrote a.o.:

“From information given in the various stamp catalogues one would assume that bisected stamps were used in Puerto Rico, as they are mentioned as having been used under the broad heading of ‘Issues for Cuba and Puerto Rico’. Even in the Spanish specialized catalogue, under the issues for ‘Antillas Españolas’ they are listed which would seem to indicate that bisects were commonly used in both islands. This, however, is not the case. Actually, bisects were quite commonly used in Cuba, but are great rarities when used in Puerto Rico. In other parts of this text we may have stated that bisected stamps, showing authentic Puerto Rican usage were unknown. In view of information which has just come to light this statement must be withdrawn (this is written after the original text had gone to print)”.

The main catalogue of those days regarding Cuba and Puerto Rico was published by Manuel Galvez from Madrid. No doubt he refers to this catalogue, which indeed mentions many stamps used bisected, starting with the issue of 1864, however without stating if this use occurred in Cuba or Puerto Rico. Preston than continues to show the cover (here also shown as figure 1) which was brought to his attention by J.M. Bartels from Boston, USA, a well known dealer and expert of the time. This cover was given for inspection by the owner (J.C. Jűhring) at the end of 1939 or beginning of 1940 as will be evidenced further on. It showed a bisected stamp of 10 centimos of the 1869 issue of the Spanish Antilles. At that time this was the first and only known cover of the sort and both men are puzzled about the background of this bisected use of stamps in Puerto Rico. They state:

“Our inspection of this cover leaves no doubt in our minds as to its genuineness: the oval grid killer tying the bisect to cover is struck with the same ink pad as was the Arecibo postmark of Jan 10th, 1869. The cover material, address, cancellation and backstamp are all of the correct form. In fact we can dismiss any idea of this cover being a counterfeit”.

Preston continues to remark that the mystery of the use of this bisected 10 ct stamp used as a 5 ct stamp is the fact that no 5 ct postal rate was known to exist in Puerto Rico. He adds:

“To add to the puzzle, the cover is an official letter originating in Arecibo and addressed to San Juan. At this period it was customary to forward most of the official mail without any stamps – why was a bisected stamp used in this case?”.

Further, in his book he makes no explicit reference to Fritz Billig’s publication in which the bisected use of a 10 ct stamp of the 1869 issue was listed some 4 years earlier.

He concludes to remark that even though Puerto Rico did not have a postal (or fiscal) rate of 5 ct, the lowest being 10 ct for mail within the island, the 5 ct stamp of the 1868 issue was known to have been used in Puerto Rico, but always in multiples to replace stamps with a higher nominal value. He mentions for example that a cover exists bearing two 5ct stamps of the 1868 issue postmarked in Ponce on November 9th 1868. Also for fiscal use such 5 ct stamps were used, but always in multiples. Apparently, the 5 ct stamps were sent to Puerto Rico by the Madrid printers to replace 10 ct stamps (or higher values), which were regularly out of stock and could not be delivered on time. More information about the use of 5ct 1868 stamp in Puerto Rico can be found in the SFPR’s Puripex 2008 publication in the article by dr. Herman Cestero.

Jose Ignacio Garcia-Lomas.

The next important publication on Puerto Rican philately was published in 1975 by Garcia-Lomas. His book “Reseña – Inventario de Marcas, Sellos, Pruebas y Enteros Postales de Puerto Rico (como Dependencia Postal Española)” refers to bisected stamps at several places and includes an Annex I of four pages on ‘fragmented’ stamps used in Puerto Rico. He mentions the listing by Fritz Billig and the article by Preston and Sanborn, repeating the conclusions of Roger Preston. The cover of our figure 1 is shown as well in his book. He then mentions that Preston’s collection, which was auctioned in Madrid in 1970, contained another cover with a bisected stamp, here shown as figure 3, which was inspected by Garcia-Lomas who had no doubt as to the authenticity of this cover based on related reference material. This cover was used with a bisected 20 ct stamp of the 1868 issue posted at 13th April 1868 from San Juan to Vega Baja. This cover was also used for official business by a Court and it triggered Garcia-Lomas to investigate the postal rates allowed to be used by the Courts of Puerto Rico. This is when he found out about the existence of the Royal Order of 24th September 1859.

In this Royal Order the conditions were listed which would have to be fulfilled to use a reduced postal rate to mail Court documents:

· the full rate applies when the papers are sent on behalf of the ‘well-off or rich’ party
(‘parte pudiente o rica’),

· ‘free postage’ applies when these documents are sent on the request of a poor party
and the Royal Order of 18th February 1855 applies, meaning that no postage is
required when the Judge or Prosecutor at the courthouse testifies that it is ‘official
mail’ while the Court clerk marks on the cover that he has checked that it meets the
requirements of the Royal Order marking ‘Visto Bueno’ (V°B°) on the cover and by
marking the cover with an ‘A’ of Abono,

· if these papers are sent on the request of both parties (rich and poor), only half of the postal rate applies; here too (in most cases), the ‘Visto Bueno’ mark is placed to evidence the verification.

This last condition clearly explains that cases could exist where even the lowest postal rate in use in Puerto Rico could be halved; since no postal stamps were readily available for this lower rate, bisected stamps were used instead.

Garcia-Lomas continues to remark that another circular from the Correos dated 22nd June 1860 states that no postage was due at all for official letters and letters regarding poor parties when these letters were sent by the Court to the Mayor of a community when these letters were marked in accordance with the Visto Bueno and Abono rules stated above.

All-in-all, Garcia-Lomas considers that bisected stamps on judicial mail has been used in Puerto Rico from as early as the mid 1860-ties up to the end of 1869. Theoretically this would mean that also stamps of the earlier issues of the Spanish Antilles which were used late could have been used bisected in the mail in Puerto Rico. As will be shown further on, in the meantime several covers dating from 1870 have been found expanding the timeframe; these are shown with this article (figures 5 and 6).

Different than in many other territories, Garcia-Lomas states that he is not aware of the existence of commercial or private mail in Puerto Rico which was franked with bisected stamps, which was quite common in Cuba and other countries. He explains this by the simple fact that stamps with a low nominal value were usually available in abundance so that multiples could be used to make up higher rates if stamps with a high nominal value were not available at the postoffice. However in the meantime, such a commercial cover came to the market and is shown hereafter in figure 9.

Remarks regarding the judicial covers 1 to 8

FIGURE 1:



This was the first cover found with a bisected stamp, shown by both Preston/Sanborn and Garcia-Lomas in their books as mentioned above.
· Judicial cover from Arecibo to Puerto Rico (= San Juan) dated 10th January, 1869 with backside arrival stamp Puerto Rico 11th January, 1869
· diagonally bisected 10 ct stamp of Spanish Antilles issue 1869 (Edifil Ant. nr. 16)
· Visto Bueno + De Oficio Doy Fe
· ex collections of J.C. Jűhring, Gaspar Roca, now in my collection since 2006
· authenticity is ‘guaranteed’ by Preston in a letter to Jűhring dated 1st July 1940 when he returned the cover to him after inspection with his gratitude; this letter is kept with the cover and is in my possession as well.

FIGURE 2:



From this cover, only a bad photocopy is available out of the articles by Cesar Rivera-Carrasquillo; from the copy and his comments this can be concluded:
· judicial cover from Arecibo to Puerto Rico (= San Juan) dated 22nd July 1869 with no apparent backside arrival stamp
· diagonally bisected 10 ct stamp of Spanish Antilles issue 1869 (Edifil Ant. nr. 16)
· Visto Bueno + De Oficio Doy Fe
· marks ‘ex collection Worthington’ and ‘J.M. Bartels’ in pencil on the back, no present owner known to me.

FIGURE 3:



This cover was a.o. shown in the Annex of the book by Garcia-Lomas.


· Judicial cover from San Juan to Vega Baja dated 18th April, 1868 with no backside arrival stamp but marked (porteo) ‘½’ in blue
· diagonally bisected 20 ct stamp Spanish Antilles issue 1868 (Edifil Ant. nr. 14)
· Visto Bueno + De Oficio + blue ‘A’ mark of Abono of San Juan
· ex collections of R.B. Preston and Scott Gallagher, now in my collection since 1999.

FIGURE 4:



This cover is not described in the Philatelic literature and acquired by me in 2008.
· Front only of a judicial cover from San German to Mayagüez dated 4th June 1867 with an arrival stamp placed on the front dated 5th June 1867
· diagonally bisected 2 real stamp of Spanish Antilles issue 1864 (Edifil Ant. nr. 12)
· ‘RS’ (Real Servicio) mark + ‘no hay sellos’ (but no Visto Bueno mark)
· APS certificate stating ‘genuine in all respects’ dated 14th May 1981 and Graus certificate stating ‘autentico’ and ‘original de la epoca’ dated 27th June, 1994

FIGURE 5:





This cover is not described in the Philatelic literature and acquired by me in 2008.
· Cover folded from insurance policy paper forming a judicial letter from Ponce to Puerto Rico (= San Juan) dated 18th May 1870 with an arrival stamp placed on the back dated 20th May 1870
· vertically bisected 10 ct stamp of Spanish Antilles issue 1870 (Edifil Ant. nr. 19)
· ‘SN’ (Servicio Nacional) mark (but no Visto Bueno mark)
· Remark on the backside stating: “El Administrador de la Aduana de esta Villa ha entregado este pliego en la de Correos de mi cargo hoy dia 18 de Mayo a las dos de la tarde” with his signature
· pencil markings by J.P. Brown (?) , OK-Bartels + Luis Pagan stating 7/95 + SG (?)
· APS certificate stating ‘genuine in all respects’ dated 30th June 1994 and Graus certificate stating ‘autentico’ and ‘original de la epoca’ dated 30th April, 1999

FIGURE 6:



From this cover, only a bad photocopy is available out of the articles by Cesar Rivera-Carrasquillo showing the front and backside; from this copy and his comments this can be concluded:
· judicial cover from Mayagüez to Puerto Rico (= San Juan) dated 16th March 1870 with a backside arrival stamp dated 18th March 1870
· diagonally bisected 10 ct stamp of Spanish Antilles 1870 issue (Edifil Ant. nr. 19)
· ‘SN’ (Servicio Nacional) mark (but no Visto Bueno mark)
· Remark on the backside stating: “Entregado en la administracion de la correos … a las uno de la tarde del dia de hoy. Mayagüez 16 de marzo de 1870” with his signature
· this cover was shown at the world exhibition in Malaga in 2006 where I viewed it and at that time it was owned by F. Acevedo; I repeatedly requested him to send me a better scan but I received no reply.

FIGURE 7:



This cover is not described in the Philatelic literature so far.
· Judicial cover from Adjuntas to Ponce dated 13th or 15th January, 1868 with backside arrival stamp Ponce 15th or 18th January, 1868
· vertically bisected 20 ct stamp Spanish Antilles issue 1868 (Edifil Ant. nr. 14)
· Visto Bueno + De Oficio
· ex collection of Gaspar Roca, now in my collection since 2006.

FIGURE 8:



From this cover I only have a bad photocopy out of the catalogue by Hugo Storer, page 16; it is only partly legible.
· judicial cover from Aguadilla to … (?) dated 15th November 1863, backside not available
· diagonally bisected 1 real stamp of Spanish Antilles issue of 1864 (Edifil Ant. nr. 11) as indicated by Storer in the catalogue; this would mean that the circulation of these 1864 stamps already started at the end of 1863
· Visto Bueno + De Oficio
· no owner known to me at this time
Eventhough there is no proof of authenticity, I believe that this cover should considered to be genuine based on Storer's listing.

The covers 1 to 6 were discussed by Cesar Rivera-Carrasquillo in his two articles in the SFPR magazines in 1982 and 1995. The fact that he did not include or even mention Hugo Storer's cover (shown in Figure 8.) must have been done on purpose since this cover was known to everyone at that time. I am however unaware of the motives since it was clearly cancelled in Puerto Rico (Aguadilla) and not in Cuba and as such (in my view) should have been included in his overview of bisects used in Puerto Rico.

The above described 8 listings can be placed in the time as follows: November 1863 (figure 8.), June 1867 (figure 4.), January and April 1868 (figures 7 and 3), January and July 1869 (figures 1 and 2.) and March and May 1870 (figures 6 and 5). Due to the very limited number of covers, the prices realized in auctions can be substantial.

Commercial and Privately used covers with bisected stamps of Puerto Rico
Contrary to what was believed so far, also one commercial or private letter is known to exist with a bisected stamp used in Puerto Rico. This cover is shown in figure 9. It was recently (2008) offered for sale by Kohler Auctions in Germany and it is the only commercial cover with a bisected stamp that I know of Puerto Rican origin.

FIGURE 9:



This cover is not described in the Philatelic literature and acquired by me in 2008.
· Commercial cover from San Juan to Cayey stamped on 14th December 1888 with a faint illegible backside arrival stamp
· two complete ½ Mil de peso stamps (Edifil nr. 55) and one diagonally bisected 2 Mil de peso stamp (Edifil nr. 57), all of the Puerto Rican issue of 1882-1884
· Graus certificate stating ‘autentico’ and ‘original de la epoca’ dated 30th May 2008.

Forgeries

Whenever philatelic material becomes valuable to collectors, forgeries are bound to enter the market soon. It is quite simple to forge an item with a ‘bisected’ stamp but even if a fake cancellation is placed on top, it will probably not be too difficult to detect that the entire is a forgery. In particular for experts and collectors with a ‘trained eye’ it should be feasible to detect the fraud. Still, forgers try to make the best of it and the market is flooded with quasi-bisects. A nice example of a forgery is shown in figure 10 which shows a piece with a bisected stamp next to a complete stamp, both cancelled in Manati. However, the missing part of the cancellation between the two stamps is added by pencil, leading to the result shown here. It looks quite good from a distance since both stamps are genuine but the cancel is retouched and the entire piece is a fake. Many more examples are known to exist. If you find such items and if you are tempted to buy it, I suggest that you pay only a small price or have it checked by an expert first to make sure that you are not deceived. Having said this, it should be mentioned again that similar pieces are often genuine and actually quite common in the Cuban postal and fiscal philately, while its autheticity can often be recognized by the Cuban cancellations which can be identified by the experts.



I realize that this short presentation is just a ‘status report’ per 2009 based on the knowledge of today and the material found so far, since the 1940-ties. A general conclusion may remain that covers with bisected stamps used in Puerto Rico are indeed quite scarce and valuable. Reports on new findings and/or any reaction or addition to this article is most welcome. The author can be reached by e.mail at the following address in The Netherlands: j.a.vinkenborg@freeler.nl.
Sources of literature/bibliography:
· Billig’s Philatelic Handbook, volume VI, by Fritz Billig, New York, 1946;
· The Postal History of Puerto Rico, by R.B. Preston and M.H. Sanborn, APS publication, State College PA, 1950;
· Catalogo especial Galvez de colonias y ex-colonias Españolas 1950-51 by M.Galvez, Madrid, 1951;
· Reseña – Inventario de Marcas, Sellos, Pruebas y Enteros Postales de Puerto Rico (como Dependencia Postal Española) by J.I. Garcia-Lomas, Madrid, 1975;
· Catalogo Filatelico de Puerto Rico by H. Storer, Hato Rey, PR, 1977;
· An article in the magazine of the ‘Sociedad Filatelica de Puerto Rico’ by Cesar W. Rivera-Carrasquillo of December 1982 and the Puripex magazine of 1995;
· Catalogo Historico Postal de Cuba (1855-1898) by J.I. Abreu-Perez, FESOFI, Madrid, 1996;
· Article in ‘The Cuban Philatelist’ by Y. Kouri in the CPSA magazine of July 1998, page 139-142;
· Article: ‘Uso del sello de 5 centimos de escudo de 1868 en Puerto Rico’ by H. Cestero, SFPR Puripex 2008, San Juan, PR.
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