Today in Postal History


Cayman Islands to United States
May 4, 1931

This registered cover went into the mails on Cayman Brac.
Cayman Brac is about 180 km east northeast of
Georgetown on the principal island of Grand Cayman.
(The third Cayman island is Little Cayman.)
Cayman Brac is about 225 km northwest of Montego Bay in Jamaica
and about the same distance south of Cuba.

The Caymans were ceded to England by Spain in 1670.
They were colonized from Jamaica in the 18th century.
The Caymans were administered as a dependency
of Jamaica until a new constitution in 1959.
Crown Colony status was achieved on November 28, 1962.

The first regular post office was opened at
Georgetown, Grand Cayman, in April, 1889.
The stamps of Jamaica were used until February 19, 1901.
(Jamaican stamps of the era cancelled in Grand
Cayman are much sought after - check your SG.)

Stamps for Cayman Islands were first issued in November, 1900.
Jamaican stamps remained valid and Cayman cancels warrant a premium.

This cover was franked with King George V
stamps first issued between 1921 and 1926.
There are d pale gray green, two 2d slate gray,
and 2d bright blue (SG 70, 73, and 74).
The registration rate appears to have been 4d with 2d for mail abroad.
Can someone confirm that this is correct?

The stamps are cancelled with three Cayman Brac CDS.
Registration was noted by a handstamp with a script number.
The obligatory blue pencilled cross was added both front and back.
Finally, the cover was sealed with wax (note that
the wax is on top of the blue cross on the back).

The cover was destined for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
To get there, it first had to go through Kingston,
Jamaica, with the rest of the mail from the Caymans.
It was given an oval registry stamp there on May 7.

Next, it was logged into the United States registry system
in New York City on May 14 with two oval handstamps.
Surprisingly, there seems to have been no United States serial number applied.

It arrived in Philadelphia on the same day.
It then went to a branch office in Philadelphia
for delivery where it was postmarked May 15.
Can anyone suggest what the branch office was?

This is what the CIA World Factbook has to say about the Cayman Islands Economy:

"With no direct taxation, the islands are a thriving offshore financial center. More than 93,000 companies were registered in the Cayman Islands as of 2008, including almost 300 banks, 800 insurers, and 10,000 mutual funds. A stock exchange was opened in 1997. Tourism is also a mainstay, accounting for about 70% of GDP and 75% of foreign currency earnings. The tourist industry is aimed at the luxury market and caters mainly to visitors from North America. Total tourist arrivals exceeded 1.9 million in 2008, with about half from the US. About 90% of the islands' food and consumer goods must be imported. The Caymanians enjoy one of the highest outputs per capita and one of the highest standards of living in the world."


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