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Postal history of Haiti - République Septentrionale

In autumn of 1888, a revolution took place in Northern Haiti. République Septentrionale was proclaimed with Cap Haitien as its capital. The unrest worsened the already existing shortage of stamps. The few stamps on hand were overprinted R.S. The known copies are all cancelled in Cap Haitien or Gonaives. Only the 1 and 2 cent denominations are known with this overprint and in total, less than ten stamps with R:S: overprint are known today. In March 1889, a negative seal reading 'HAITI/POSTES/CAP HAITIEN' was introduced. A total of 31 covers bearing this seal are known. At first, the marking was used simply as a postage-paid marking (as shown by the registered letter below, which only show one strike like normal letters). In the second half of the year there was an attempt to make it appear as a postmaster provisional with an implied value of 10 centimes (as shown, for instance, by the existence of second weight letters bearing two strikes of the seal and double postage due). This change in practice was probably an attempt to avoid postage due charges by foreign postal authorities. Even though the seal did not say 'postage paid', it was accepted by the US postal authorities during the first month of use, but not from mid-April onwards. Similarly, the postal authorities in St. Thomas, DWI, started charging postage due in July. All other postal authorities seem to have accepted the marking as proof of pre-payment of postage. Another interesting facet of the covers is the dates of the Cap Haitien postmarks. Due to the civil war, no year-slug reading '89' was received from Port au Prince. Therefore, the '88' slug was sent to France, so that a new one reading '89' could be made. As an emergency solution, the '81' year-slug was used until the '88' slug was returned by mid-June. The '88' slug was replaced by the new '89' slug when it arrived from France on July 16th. The '89' slug was used until the negative seal ended its service in October 1889. The revolutionaries gained control over whole Haiti in August 1889.


Registered letter sent from Cap Haitien 27/03/1889 to New York showing an unusually clear strike of the negative seal frank 'HAITI/POSTES/CAP HAITIEN' to denote payment of postage. Also shows boxed 'R' and circular postmark dated '27/MARS/81' (see above). Note the message in the upper right corner: 'Affranchie manque de timbres' = 'Paid - shortage of stamps' in French. One of two known covers accepted by the US postal authorities without postage due. One of the two known covers showing that the seal initially was used as a simple postage-paid marking. 'No 1600' is the Haitian registration number and '69982' is the New York registration number. Arrival postmark 'D 3/4/89' of New York harbour on reverse.

You can find more information about the postal history of République Septentrionale in the APS Congress Book 1992 and in 'Haiti Philately' no.2/1998.

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