Thursday, December 2, 2010

International Mail Postage Due :
A Canadian Miscalculation

The underpaid cover shown below, mailed from Lancaster, England to Forest Ontario, February 12, 1957, was correctly taxed by the Manchester post office but incorrectly taxed in Canada. The error is understandable but the Canadian addressee paid three times the proper amount.

British Taxation

Air mail letter rate...................1s 3d
Amount prepaid........................1s
Amount underpaid...................3d
Due (double deficiency)...........6d

Conversion to UPU gold centimes (ctm.) @ 1 d. = 5 ctm.
6d= 6d x 5 ctm./d. = 30 ctm.

(The UPU monetary unit was a gold standard. The UPU monetary unit was the gold franc of 100 centimes of a weight of 10/31 of a gramme and of a fineness of 0.900. The gold franc was a notional currency. No country actually minted the UPU franc. Nations converted their currencies to gold centimes to calculate postage due in centimes.)

Hexagonal T handstamp
MR= Manchester

Canadian Amount Paid

The Canadian Post Office (exchange office) would normally convert the centimes due to Canadian cents. This was not done in this case. The only due marking on the cover was the British "T 30" which may have been interpreted by the Forest post office as being 30 cents since the addressee was charged 30 cents:

The correct Canadian Tax

The conversion factor was : 1 Canadian cent = 3 ctm.

30 ctm. = 30 ctm. x 1 cent/3 ctm. = 10 cents

The amount due was 10 cents, not 30 cents.

Taxation errors are not uncommon with international underpaid mail.