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::: Local Mail Advertising Covers :::

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Hono 28Mar71 C&C bill
Hono 28Mar71 C&C bill back

A billboard advertising cover, front and back. This cover was sent from Honolulu on March 28, 1871, to Kohala Plantation, Hawaii. Routing was per the steamer Kilauea to Kawaihae and then by overland carrier to Waimea, Hawaii and across the Kohala Mountains to Iole where Rev. Bond resided. In addition to the printed advertising, this cover bears a blue oval Castle & Cooke dated handstamp.

Advertising covers include a broad scope of printed advertisements, handstamps and printed corner cards. My records show printed advertisements first appeared on covers in Hawaii at least by 1871, but there could be earlier examples. For additional information about advertising marks, also see Auxiliary Marks/Private Sender Marks.


Some of the earliest advertising covers are known as "billboards" because of the panel of advertisements displayed on the back side of the envelope. Only a handful of these covers have survived but they are dramatic in appearance.

Hono 2Sep72 Judd bill
Hono 2Sep72 Judd bill back

Another billboard cover, this one for A. F. Judd's law practice and docketed September 2, 1872. Notice the advertisement for Henry Whitney's stationery store at the lower right corner of the back. Another prominent figure in the early postal system was C. S. Bartow, the first postmaster of Lahaina, whose advertisement is at the lower left corner.


Handstamps served two functions, one as an advertisement and the other as a return address.

Hono 30Jun71 EOHall 31a

E. O. Hall & Son had this oval handstamp made for their private use. This unusual United States printed stationery cover was mailed from Honolulu to Lahainaluna, Maui on June 30, 1871. The United States 3 postage was wasted because it was invalid in Hawaii.

Other examples of handstamped advertisements:

Kekaha Sugar Co 10Sep92

Kekaha Sugar Co.

Kilauea Sugar Co's Retail Store 21July93

Kilauea Sugar Co's Retail Store

Meier & Kruse 14Feb90 Kekaha

Meier & Kruse


In the 1890's a wide variety of printed advertisements appeared on covers. Here are examples:

Hono 231_72 10Aug94 Hollister

Hollister & Co. printed advertisement mailed August 10, 1894 at Honolulu.

Hono 231_72 31May94 Shoe

Manufacturers' Shoe Co. printed advertisement mailed at Honolulu on May 31, 1894.

Hono 4Sep95 Putnam

An unusual printed advertisement for Hobron Drug Co. pitching Putnam's Cherry Cough drops, mailed September 4, 1895 at Honolulu as a drop letter and handled by the dead letter office of the Honolulu Post Office.


Some printed corner cards were fancier than others and clearly promoted the business operation of the sender.

Hono 234_62 15Apr Williams

Dated probably in the late 1870's, this printed corner card for J. Williams & Co. photographers was used to send photographs to a patron.

Hono 231_72 27Aug95 Wichman

H. F. Wichman printed corner card mailed August 27, 1895 at Honolulu.

Hono 231_82 6Dec98 Arlington

The Arlington Hotel printed corner card mailed December 6, 1898 at Honolulu.

Kahului _Jan_ Irwin

W. G. Irwin & Co. altered its printed corner card by adding the manuscript word "Maui" for use at its Kahului office and mailed from Kahului on January __, 1895.

Oahu R&LCo 22Dec96

Oahu Railway & Land Company used this pictorial corner card, mailed at Honolulu on December 22, 1896.

US Consular Agency Hilo 2Oct94

Another example of the U. S. Consular Agency cover from Hilo bearing the 2 Scott No. 75 and mailed October 2, 1894.

hawaii 49 front

An interesting advertisement for the Star Newspaper Co. on a UPSS 3a (Scott U1) circular dated May 14, 1893 on the reverse. (Courtesy of Antone Medeiros)

Makee Sugar Company 21Aug98

Some printed corner cards, such as this example from Makee Sugar Company, were understated so the primary purpose was for the return address.

Oahu R&LCo 1Mar00 80

Typewriters appeared in Hawaii late in the 19th Century and this typewritten return address corner card for the Oahu Railway and Land Company is an early example, sent March 1, 1900.

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