The R:S: overprints of Haiti

Philathelic phantacy production or patriotic emergency issue?

Interestingly, it seems that the known 2c copies have inverted overprints. I speculate that a maximum of one sheet, probably less, was overprinted and that the overprint was made inverted on purpose, so that the portrait of the ousted president Salomon could be placed up-side-down on covers to signal disgrace, while the overprint giving the initials of the revolutionary government, 'République Septentrionale', could be read in the right orientation.
When the first stamps surfaced in 1890(!), there was speculation that the overprint was a fantasy production produced for stamp collectors (Kohl's Handbuch). Doings for which Haiti is notorious. However, several facts about the stamps strongly speak against the stamps being philatelic.
First of all, no unused copies are known. Characteristic for all philatelic speculation in Haiti in the early days is that unused copies are way more common than used and that used copies are usually cancelled with easily recognisable CTO-cancels. The stamp exhibited above show parts of two cancels, which does not look like CTO-cancels. Second, the first stamps surfaced in 1890 right after the revolution ended in October 1889. Third and very striking, the year slug reads '89' in broad numbers, which are characteristic of the 89 year slug arriving from France to Cap Haitien on 16 July 1889, and which were used on the contemporary Cap Haitien Black Seal covers, see next page. Fourth, all the known copies are cancelled within the right time-period in two major towns that were part of the revolutionary republic, whereas any 'normal' stamps cancelled in these towns during the revolution are unknown! Thus, everything point towards the stamps being a true patriotic emergency production in a time of extreme stamp shortage.

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Henrik Mouritsen

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Most recent revision 14. April 2000