DANISH WEST INDIES BISECTED 4 CENTS STAMP USAGE IN 1903

The Danish West Indies Post Offices experienced 17 months of turmoil in 1902-1903 when the postal rates were changed and Denmark failed to provide new stamp denominations in a timely manner.

In 1902 the DWI and Copenhagen Post Offices attempted to patch the need for 2 cents stamps by issuing provisional stamps - and in early 1903 the DWI Post Offices - still in desperate need of 2 cents stamps - had to resort to bisecting the 4 cents stamps for use where a 2 cent or a 1 cent stamp was needed. The bisects were not to be used when the postage exceeded 2 cents which prohibited any use of bisects in combination with other stamp denominations.

Postcard to France with two 1 cent stamps cancelled January 19 - 1903 the day before the use of bisected 4 cents stamps was authorized.

1 CENT STAMP DEPLETION

On January 20 1903 the last 25 sheets of the 1 cent Coat of Arms were delivered from "St.Thomas Kassekommission" to the St.Thomas Post Office and new 1 cent stamps could not be expected until late February. About February 10 all 1 cent stamps were sold out and not untill March 1 new 1 cent stamps would arrive from Denmark. This is the period when bisected 4 cents were very much needed at St.Thomas.

Correspondingly the period when the bisected 4 cents were needed due to 1 cent stamp depletion at Christiansted was February 11 to March 5 and at Frederiksted February 17 to March 6.

 

This table shows the dates when the post offices allowed the use of bisected 4 cents stamps. Furthermore it shows when each post office was sold out of the 1 cent stamp.

 Post Office                        Bisected 4 cents stamp usage                  1 cent stamp depletion


 St. Thomas                       20 January - 23 May 1903                        10 February - 1 March

Christiansted                   11  February - 4 June 1903                       11 February - 5 March

Frederiksted                    11  February - 4 June 1903                       17 February - 6 March

 

The bisects were used from January 20 - June 4 1903. The great majority of thousands of covers mailed are readily identifiable as philatelic - but normal commercial covers also were saved though they can be hard to identify.

These were the only stamps on sale at the post offices at the time of the bisects in 1903 - and the 1 cent value was sold out for three weeks by mid February to first in March.

One US stamp dealer had the newspaper announcement printed on a US postal card - including it with each cover order. This Notice is for St. Croix on February 10.

The need to use a bisected stamp is best ilustrated in the above photo. It shows how few stamps denominations were available in the first half of 1903. The 1 cent stamps were sold out for approximately three weeks in February-March - and as mentioned earlier - it was the depletion of the 1 cent stamp that resulted in the need to use bisected 4 cents stamps. 

The first day of bisect usage was January 20 1903 - the St. Thomas postmaster published a notice in the local newspaper - the 'St Thomas Tidende' - announcing that the bisects could be used on the two islands of St.Thomas and St. Jan. A similar notice authorizing their use on St.Croix was not publishedd for another three weeks - a mystery that defies logic - since covers were mailed from St.Thomas to St.Croix in the letter box on January 20 - arriving there the next morning. 

The publication in English in 'St.Thomas Tidende' on January 20, 1903 reads:

For the time being the Post Office will admit the use of 4 cents postage stamps cut in half diagnonally for the prepayment of postage, say in those cases, where the amount of the postage is covered by the payment of two cents or less.

The correspondence thus prepaid should be handed in over the counter and not dropped into a letter box. The use of postage stamps thus cut will be disallowed as soon as 2 cents stamp have been arrived, about which publication will be issued.

Government, St.Thomas th 20 the January, 1903

Partial cancelled Frederiksted February 11 - first day of use on St. Croix.

A similar notice was published on St. Croix  (see photo above) - but perhaps because some provisional 2 cents overprint on 3 cents stamps were still avaiable there - the use of the bisected stamps did not begin until February 11.

The first day of use on St.Croix has always been reported as February10 - but it is very likely that this is an error. The post office announcement is dated February 10 - but it was printed in the newspaper the "St. Croix Avis" on February 11 and the "DWI Record" maintained by the DWI Stydy Group - records publication dates of February 11 and 13 from Frederiksted and February 12 and 13 from Christiansted. Thus, it appears that the first day usage on St. Croix should be changed to February 11 - 1903.  

Cover paying the 8 cents UPU rate to Denmark - mailed on St. Thomas January 31 1903 in the period of the bisects - but before the stock of 1 cents became depleted on St. Thomas around February 10. The 1 cent Coat of Arms used on this cover could very well be from the batch of 25 sheets of 1 cents arriving at the St. Thomas Post Office on January 20. Note it is a partial. Backstamped Kjøbenhavn (Copenhagen) February 21 1903.

Local Frederiksted postcard sent April 11. 1 cent rate for local postcards. This card is philatelic with no message - but sent within the period of the bisects and about a month after the stock of 1 cents Coat of Arms was replenished in Frederiksted (March 6).

2 CENTS SINGLE AND DOUBLE POSTCARDS

A Single 2 cents postcard sent from St.Thomas to Hamburg in the period when the bisects were used - March 26 1903.

 

The 2 cents single postcards were not sold on St.Thomas from September 17 - 1902 to February 16 - 1903 - but the double 2 cents cards were available. Thus - if you wanted to send a card from St.Thomas to a foreign country between February 10 and February 16 you could only have chosen between a bisected 4 cents and a double 2 cents card which when separated would give you two cards to mail.  

At Christiansted from February 11 to February 16 only the 4 cents bisected stamps were available. The 2 cents single and double cards were not on sale until February 17.

At Frederiksted only bisected 4 cents stamps could have been used. However, on February 27 cards were again available. 

During the entire period of the bisects the stock of 1 cent stamps available at St. Jan was sufficient.

Have any collectors seen a 2 cents postal card during the short period of 1 cent stamp depletion? - In my collection I have a local postcard sent in the short period of 1 cent stamp depletion (overpaid by one cent). See the page  POSTCARD - LOCAL