Haiti postage stamps
Haiti postage stamps are stamps issued in the Republic of Haiti.
Haiti is a country on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola and part of the Dominican Republic In 1492 Haiti was invaded by Columbus and the land claimed for Spain in whose hands it remained until 1865 when it achieved independence. In the years before independence control of the country frequently passed from Spain to France to Spain again with frequent hostilities between the Spanish settlers and the French pirates.
African slaves came to the country as agricultural labour and later rebelled in the late 18th/early 19th centuries. All of this contributed to an increasingly erratic and unstable economy and it was trade which promoted the need for postal communication. The first post offices in Haiti was British and operated from 1865 to 1881.
Haiti issued it's own postage stamps in 1881. The first stamp produced cost 1 centime and showed the head of Liberty, facing left. Interestingly, it is a belief held by some that the stamp actually shows two faces, one of a white woman and one of a black woman. The black woman is thought to be Gen. Louise Felicite Saloman, the wife of the Haiti president of the time.
It is worth noting also that these initial first stamps were overprinted for us as fiscals in 1923. The overprint was a locally administered hand stamp. Overprints were particularly common in 1923 and then, later in 1970s.
Haitian postage stamps, despite not reaching chart-topping auction figures, are generally regarded well in the philately world because of their uniqueness.
Popularity with collectors
Haiti postage stamps are particularly popular with beginner collectors as they are comparatively inexpensive and also relatively easy to find. There are also avenues to explore with regards to specialising. One avenue of specialisation is collection of overprints – seventy nine different Scott listed stamps have been overprinted resulting in ninety four major (and some minor) variants.
The Liberty head postage stamp has been the victim of forgeries and these forgeries themselves are also attractive to collectors due to distinguishing features such as shade and tint variations. The stamps themselves pay homage to Haiti's chequered history with many of the stamps honouring the slaves who fought so hard for their freedom. As well as the French and Spanish influences mentioned above, the Haiti postal system shows influences from Britain, Germany, Holland and America.
In 1949 Port-au-Prince (the capital of Haiti) celebrated it's Bicentennial anniversary by producing a souvenir collection of specially commissioned stamps promoted two hundred years of Haitian history.
Notable auction sales
The Haiti Philatelic Society hold actions four times yearly in which only members can bid. Some notable auction sales from the June 2011 auction include a wrapper address to a Leon Montes with a 1c double overprint on 50, Scott #254, 1c in red from 1918. This sold for $280. The highest selling individual stamp from this auction was stamp number #242, mint never hinged. It was described as very scarce and sold for $190. A hinged copy J20, selvage at bottom reached $125.