Danish West Indies
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.
On January 20 1903 the last 50 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. It has previously been thought that it was 25 sheets (2500 stamps) (see document below of January 16) - but I have recovered another document dated January 17 which confirms that it was in fact 50 sheets (5000 stamps) of 1 cent originating from the stock of St. Croix and delivered via the Kassekommissionen to the St. Thomas Post Office (See document below). For years consensus has been - that there were 25 sheets and it made sense to conclude that there was a rapid depletion in the 1 cent stock 21 days later around February 10.
Now I show that there was double the amount available of 1 cent stamps (5000 stamps) so I will argue that it is likely that the St. Thomas Post Office was NOT depleted of 5000 1 cent stamps 3 weeks later on February 10. Also taking into account that there were many covers and postcards sent in that period using bisected 4 cents and double 2 cents postal cards .The 1 cent stamps were sold out untill March 1 - when new 1 cent stamps would arrive from Denmark. I have recovered yet another document (see document below) showing that there was in fact a delivery of 500 sheets of 1 cent stamps from "Finansministeriet" in Denmark to the Kassekommissionen on February 28 1903. This correlates very well with the previous statement that the 1 cent stamp depletion ended on March 1 on 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. If St. Croix had not delivered 50 sheets of 1 cent stamps to St. Thomas their stocks would likely not have been depleted and we would not have had all these interesting covers with bisected 4 cents coming out of the St. Croix Post Offices.
A big thank you to whoever shipped those 50 sheets.
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 (?) February - 1 March
St. Jan 20 February - 23 May 1903(?) None reported
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. Please also see PHILATELIC USAGE
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 St.Thomas. 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 the 20th January, 1903
Please note that this notice to the people of St. Thomas on January 20 shown above - did NOT include St. Jan as previously assumed. I have recovered a document in the Danish Rigsarkivet showing that February 20 1903 is the authorization day on the use of bisected 4 cents on St. Jan. See the letter from Gouvernementet to the St. Thomas Post Office dated February 20 1903.
This makes February 20 1903 the First day of use on St. Jan.
As we only know of a few covers sent from St. Jan - it is not clear why Gouvernementet decided to specify an authorization day of bisected use on St. Jan - February 20 1903?
Furthermore I have not been able to locate any notice to the public in any of the DWI papers regarding specific bisected authorization date on St. Jan.
A similar notice as to the St. Thomas 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. Or perhaps it was due to the 1 cent depletion on St. Croix around this date??
The first day of use on St.Croix has always been reported as February 10 - 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 50 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.
The 2 cents single postcards were not sold on St.Thomas from September 17 - 1902 to February 16 - 1903 - but the double 2 cents card was 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