This cover with independence and postage due stamps can be an example of how people didn’t understand postage laws or how people tried to outsmart the system.
So, there are covers that catch our attention because they’re good looking, they have a good story behind it, they’re interesting or all of the above. And it’s absolutely true that this cover with independence and postage due stamps has all of the above.
But let’s start with some facts. The stamps used in this cover started circulating on September 15th, 1921 and were demonetized on December 31st, 1921. Basically, this issue circulated for just 4 months.
Now, returning to this cover, it has a strip of 3 of 1921’s independence stamp. It was sent from San Jose to Kensington, England on February 13th, 1922. That’s two months after the independence issue was demonetized.
When this cover got to the postal office, the person in charge of processing it noticed that the stamps were already demonetized and did not cancel the stamps with the regular handstamp, instead, canceled them with pencil lines. Also, used the postage due handstamp (the circular one with the T in the center).
Postage dues were paid at the destination and were calculated in the UPU’s monetary unit. It was the gold franc of 100 centimes of a weight of 10/31 of a gram and of a fineness of 0.900. Now is easy to understand why most of the covers have postage due calculated in centimes.
Ok, that’s really useful information, but how’s the right amount to be paid calculated and what’s the correct exchange rate to pounds? According to the UPU’s guidelines, the amount to be paid is the double of what wasn’t paid when mailing the cover. The rate for letters to Europe in 1922 was 20 céntimos, therefore the total to be paid was 40 céntimos. The cover was marked with a postage due of 4 pence when it arrived in England and got the corresponding postage due stamps.
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