This page last updated: 22 September 2000

::: CANCELS - Rings :::

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Hono 18Oct67

This October 18, 1867 cover bears an example of ring3-25(center pin), a 3 ring cancel of 25mm diameter with a (center pin).

2-175 30Jun72cover

A June 30, 1872 cover canceled with a ring4-24(dashes), a 4 ring cancel of 24mm diameter– the rings consisting of (dashes).

Reference numbers for the so-called "target" cancels (Davey's Section 3 – Circles, with numbers 101-124) begin with ring followed by a number for the number of rings and then the diameter of the outermost ring in millimeters. Thus, ring1-7 means a one ring cancel of 7mm diameter. Where two or more marks share a root description, additional comment is added to distinguish them. For example, three marks are designated ring2-19, so they are differentiated thus: ring2-19(no center dot; even circles), ring2-19(no center dot; uneven circles) and ring2-19(center dot). Cancels are noted with one, two, three or four rings. Altogether, more than 32 devices made ring cancels, not including rings containing letters found under the letter cancels.

There is much room for debate in this section. Part of the problem arises because marks were applied carelessly so marks produced with the same device have different appearances. Also, some marks came from different devices but appear the same – or nearly so – and are lumped together. A third reason for identification problems is the proliferation of local ring cancels, making it difficult to form a complete list.

1 Ring


Rarity 1R


Davey unlisted
Shaffer unlisted

Usage: late 1870's, location unknown
Ring nearly punches stamp; the other cancel on this stamp appears to be cirgrid25-7(dashes)


Scarcity 2

2-121 41

2-121 42

2-121 Shaffer rendering

Davey rendering

Davey 143
Shaffer 2-121

Usage: mid-1880's, location unknown, noted on Scott Nos. 41 and 42.
Davey: "Single very thick circle divided into many trapezoidal segments, 17mm., black. Usually very blurred and hard to measure. Scarce."
Shaffer: reserved 2-121 for Davey 143, but had not seen it.

Davey placed it among "various circular devices," but it seems to fit better with the rings. A sketch of this mark in Meyer Harris suggests a circle of thicker trapezoids.


Rarity 1R

2-120 Shaffer rendering

Shaffer rendering

Davey unlisted
Shaffer 2-120

Usage: Makawao, about 1875-1876 [per Shaffer], see Wolffers Auction #102, lot 941. Measurement is approximate

2 Rings


Scarcity 2

2-138 cir2-17

Davey unlisted
Shaffer 2-138

Usage: Honolulu, January 26, 1869.
Similar to ring2-21, but smaller in diameter.


ring2-18(rings even)
Cancel unconfirmed

2-130 Davey 101 rendering

Shaffer rendering

Davey 101
Shaffer 2-130

Davey: "Target of 2 circles, 18mm. Scarce, found only on older issues. Black, purple."
Shaffer: reserved 2-130 for Davey 101 but had not seen it.

Davey's listing of an 18mm circle most probably is the mark listed here as a 19mm circle, ring2-19(no center dot; even rings).


ring2-18(outer thin; inner thick)
Cancel unconfirmed

Davey 102
Shaffer 2-136

Davey: "Target of 2 circles, outer very thin, inner circle quite thick, 18mm."
Shaffer: reserved 2-136 for Davey 102 but had not seen it.


ring2-18(large center dot)
Estimated 8

2-135 3Mar86

March 3, 1886

Davey 113
Shaffer 2-135

Usage: Noted December 30, 1883 to April 29, 1893 from several locations (Honolulu, Paauhau, Hanalei and Keanae are noted specifically); often associated with mail from small offices. Also noted as a fake on an October 1, 1867 cover.
Davey: "Target of 3 circles, the center one solid, 18mm."


ring2-18(small center dot)
Rarity 1R

2-134 44

Davey unlisted
Shaffer 2-134

Usage: uncertain
Shaffer: "18mm. Found on issues of about 1875-1883."

The center "dot" looks more like a "dash" assuming it is the same mark noted by Shaffer.


ring2-19(no center dot; even rings)
Scarcity 2
Black, purple


Davey unlisted
Shaffer 2-130

Usage: Honolulu, 1885.
Similar to ring2-19(no center dot; uneven rings) and the strikes perhaps were made with the same device but ring2-19(no center dot; uneven rings) seems cruder. Also, compare with ring2-18(rings even).


ring2-19(no center dot; uneven rings)
Scarcity 2


January 15, 1885

2-131 41

2-131 44

Davey unlisted
Shaffer 2-131
Shaffer 2-132

Usage: Honolulu, January 15, 1885 to July 15, 1885 on registered or late letter mail.
Shaffer 2-131: 20mm. Known on Late-Letter mail, July 15, 1885. Also on 2¢ of 1883-1892." I measure these examples as 19mm rather than the 20mm Shaffer describes.
Shaffer 2-132: "about 1862." Compare ring2-19(no center dot; even rings).

The two marks are difficult to distinguish. Shaffer's 2-132 is based on Wolffers auction #98, lot 810 (on a Boston Lithograph stamp) and it may be a different different device than was used for 2-131 because the lines seem thinner.


ring2-19(center dot)
Scarcity 2

2-133 7Aug69

August 7, 1869


Davey 103
Shaffer 2-133

Usage: Honolulu February 19, 1869 to August 7, 1869
Davey: "a very crude hand-cut killer."

The center dot is smaller than in


Rarity 1R


Davey unlisted
Shaffer unlisted

Usage: unknown origin.
Query whether this is two single ring devices or one two ring device. This mark illustrates one problem with the ring cancels – they were easy to produce from handy material so a postmaster could pick up almost anything that would hold the ink long enough to cancel the stamp. Thus, local variations of ring cancels make it tough to give a complete listing.


Rarity 1R

2-137 9Jan69

January 9, 1869

Davey 104
Shaffer 2-137

Usage: Honolulu, late 1860's.
Davey: "Target of 2 circles and 4 center dots, 20mm. Crudely hand-cut and unevenly spaced."


Scarcity 2

ring2 IV-11-8

Davey unlisted
Shaffer unlisted

Usage: unknown origin, noted on Scott Nos. 30 and 52, suggesting early 1890's

3 Rings


Estimated 8
Black, blue, purple, green, red

2-150 blue
2-150 reddish purple

Davey 111
Shaffer 2-150

Usage: October 27, 1882 to September, 1899; known from numerous towns, sometimes as a duplex cancel with a town postmark; noted are Hamakuapoko, Hana, Hilea, Honokaa, Honolulu, Kahului, Keauhou, Kekaha, Olaa, Pahala, Pohoiki, Pukoo, Spreckelsville and Waialua. Also used on inter-island steamers for loose letters.
Davey: "Target of 3 circles, 15mm. This number includes all the variants of the 3-circle targets of this diameter: citcles heavy, circles thin, spacing differs, etc. Black, purple, blue, green, pink. Known from Olaa, Spreckelsville, Pohoiki, and undoubtedly used elsewhere."
Shaffer: "Thickness of circles and spacing differ. Inner circle varies from 5mm to 7mm."


Scarcity 2

2-157 MH 112 30b

Davey unlisted
Shaffer 2-157

Usage: Honolulu mid 1880's; noted on a foreign mail registered cover (April 19, 1883), a #32 cover from the 1880's, a block of 4 of #30b and on #34.
Shaffer: "Inner circles not triangles. Probably Honolulu, on registered cover about 1884; also on 5cent #32, about 1882."

This mark is similar to Davey's ring3-16(triangles) (see below). Davey perhaps misdescribed the mark he saw.


Cancel unconfirmed

2-156 Shaffer rendering

Davey rendering

Davey 112
Shaffer 2-156

Davey: "Target of of 3 circles, each divided into 6 segments, 16mm., black. Segments of innermost circle are little triangles."
Shaffer: reserved 2-156 for Davey 112, but had not seen it.

Davey may have misdescribed ring3-16(pie)


Scarcity 4

2-151 Shaffer rendering

Shaffer 2-151

2-152 Shaffer rendering

Shaffer 2-152

2-151 42

Davey unlisted
Shaffer 2-151
Shaffer 2-152

Usage: Honolulu April 1, 1888 to December 26, 1888
Shaffer 2-151: "About 16-17 mm, but outer circle often prints unevenly, as large as 19-20mm."
Shaffer 2-152: "About 18mm. Appears to be hand-cut, but may be same as [2-151]. Honolulu, Jan. 15, 1889-March 9, 1889."


Rarity 1R
Black; purple

2-153 Shaffer rendering

Shaffer rendering

Davey 114
Shaffer 2-153

Usage: 1870's – 1880's
Davey: "Target of 3 circles, 21mm., purple. Used in 1870's; scarce."
Shaffer: known on #30a and #37


Scarcity 2 with punch holes
Estimated 7 without punch holes


2-160 MH 115 27Feb77

February 27, 1877
Holes punch the paper.

2-160 MH 116 23Dec78

December 28, 1878
Holes do not penetrate paper

2-160 MH 116 21Apr94

April 21, 1894

Davey 115
Davey 116
Shaffer 2-160

Usage: Honolulu, February 19, 1876 to November 2, 1877 with pins piercing the paper (Davey 115) and thereafter (Davey 116) to December, 1883 on foreign mail; at least to April 1, 1896 on domestic mail.
Davey 115: "3 circles and three hollow center pins, the two outer circles each divided into 4 segments, 21mm. A 'patent' or 'scarifying cancel.' A type used also in the United States. Ordered by Postmaster General Brickwood in 1876 to discourage the cleaning and reuse of stamps. Pins punched pieces out of stamps and envelopes. (After a year, the device was altered; see No. 116.} Black, Honolulu. Scarce in original state."
Davey 116: "Later form of marking No. 115, as altered in 1877 by shortening the pins so that they printed as tiny circles, thus making a design suggesting a pumpkin face. Black, Honolulu, 1877-94. Common in altered state."

The alteration (either deliberate or the result of wear) shortened the pins so they no longer pierced the paper.


ring3-21(hollow circle)
Cancel unconfirmed

2-153 Shaffer rendering

Shaffer rendering

Davey 144
Shaffer 2-153

Davey: described a 21mm hollow circle with 2 parallel lines inside; 1880's.
Shaffer: reserved 2-153 for Davey 144, but had not seen it.


Estimated 8
Black, red

2-158 MH 117 31Jul76

July 31, 1876

2-158 MH 117 red 37

red strike – scarce

Davey 117
Shaffer 2-158

Usage: Honolulu, January 10, 1876 to July 14, 1884 on foreign mail; to March 28, 1889 on domestic mail.
Davey: "Target of 3 circles, each divided into many segments, 23mm., black. Honolulu, 1876-1883. A beautiful marking when well struck. Shown in Crocker's work on a laid paper 'Numeral,' probably struck by favor."

This mark is the commonest of the three ring circle cancels.


See ring4-24

Davey 188
Shaffer 2-161

Davey listed this mark, but it is merely an ink variant of ring4-24


ring3-25(center pin)
Scarcity 2

2-154 4Sep66

September 4, 1866

2-154 30Sep67

September 30, 1867

Davey 119
Shaffer 2-154

Usage: Honolulu, March 22, 1866 to December 10, 1867; also noted with a center pin punching the paper from Kawaihae, October, 1868 and Wailuku, April, 1875 to April 6, 1882
Davey: "Target of 3 circles and center dot, 25mm., black. Honolulu, about 1866. Often found on 5c 'Numerals' used to the United States."


ring3-25(filled center dot)
Rarity 1RRRR

2-155 Shaffer rendering

Shaffer rendering

Davey unlisted
Shaffer 2-155

Usage: Wailuku, April, 1875-June, 1883.
Shaffer: "25mm. Center dot sometimes shows as a small dot in circle." Query: should this mark be listed as a 4-ring mark?


ring3-25(negative X)
Rarity 1RRRR
purple, black

2-159 Shaffer rendering

Shaffer rendering

Davey 120
Shaffer 2-159

Usage: unknown origin, mid 1880's to early 1890's.
Davey: "Target of 3 circles, each divided into four 90° segments, small dot in center, 25mm."
Shaffer: noted on #43 (1880's)

4 Rings


Estimated 10
Black, purple, blue, red, brown, green
size range: outer circle 20mm-22mm; inner circle 5mm-7mm.

2-170 13Jan96 blue

January 13, 1896

2-170 6Mar97

March 6, 1897

2-171 38

Hilo with 235.9a1

Davey 131
Shaffer 2-170
Shaffer 2-171

Usage: numerous offices, sometimes as a duplex cancel with a town postmark. November, 1883 to August 7, 1900. Noted as a duplex cancel with Aiea 255.9a1, Hilo 235.9a1, Holualoa 253.9a1, Honokaa 255.9a1, Honolulu type 237.9a2, Kohala 254.9a18, Koloa 255.9a1, Lahaina 253.9a1, Lahaina 255.9a1, Lihue 253.9a1, Makaweli 255.9a1, Naalehu 253.9a1, Olaa 253.9a1, Peninsula 255.9a1, Punaluu (Oahu) 255.9a1, Waianae 282.9a1, Waipahu 255.9a1. Also used as a separate cancel from several towns from December, 1883 (Puehuehu) to August, 1900 (Makena); noted are Hilo, Heeia, Honolulu, Kailua, Kapaa, Keomuku, Kilauea, Lahaina, Makaweli, Makena, Naalehu, Pahala, Puehuehu and Waiahole. Also used on inter-island steamers for loose letters.
Davey 115: "This number covers all variants of the 4-circle targets within the stated size limits [20mm-22mm]."


ring4-20(thick lines - cto)
Estimated 7

2-172 49

Davey 131
Shaffer 2-172

Usage: Honolulu, late 1880's.
This variety with thick lines was used to cancel high value or obsolete stamps sold to speculators at reduced prices.


Scarcity 3

2-161 center punch 18Nov

November 18, ___
Center ring failed to print

2-161 MH 133 4 ring 24Feb

February 24, ____

Davey 133
Davey 134
Davey 118
Shaffer 2-161

Usage: Honolulu, July 23, 1870 to December 13, 1875 on domestic and foreign mail.
Center pin originally punched a hole in the stamp (Davey #133) and later it was shortened or worn so it no longer punched the stamp (Davey #134). Some strikes have no inner circle (Davey #118), see ring3-24. Davey 134 is noted from July 24, 1872. Davey #118 can be found throughout the usage period and sometimes a pair will have #133 or #134 and #118, proving #118 was merely a result of the way the mark was applied.


Rarity 1R

2-175 30Jun72

Davey 132
Shaffer 2-175

Usage: Kawaihae, noted June, 1872
Davey: "Target of 4 circles, each divided into many short dashes, 23mm., black. Perhaps used at Kawaihae. Quite scarce."


ring4-25(10mm inner circle)
Rarity 1R

2-173 40

Davey 136
Shaffer 2-173

Usage: unknown origin; noted on Scott No. 40
Davey: "Target of 4 circles close together, outer diameter 25mm., inner diameter 10mm. Scarce."


ring4-25(small inner circle)
Rarity 1R

2-174 35

Davey 135
Shaffer 2-174

Usage: Wailuku, April, 1875 to March 29, 1882 (with center pin); Honokaa February 26, 1891 (without center pin).
Davey: "Target of 4 circles, evenly spaced, 25mm. Usually black; one copy in brown recorded. Fairly scarce."

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