Honolulu postmarks begin with the straightline postmark put into use at the Polynesian
Office in November, 1850, after mail was being handled under the Treaty arrangement but
before there was a Post Office. When the Honolulu Post Office opened on December 21,
1850, the straightline postmark was used by the post office until June, 1851. The next
postmarks were circular date stamps first used at Honolulu in February, 1852 (one
source starts the date at December, 1851, but no evidence supporting that date has been
uncovered), so a gap of about six months existed in 1851-1852, when Honolulu had no
postmark. Thereafter, postmarks were used continuously at the Honolulu Post Office.
Postage rates first were applied to Hawaiian domestic mail starting in August, 1859.
Until then, there were no domestic postmarks. After the domestic rate went into effect
and until about 1884-1886, the postmarks used on foreign mail were often, but not
always, different than those used for domestic mail.
To retain the distinction between foreign mail and domestic mail postmarks during the
time frame while they were being used separately at Honolulu, this study breaks
Honolulu postmarks into three groups:
Honolulu Post Office and Postmasters
Honolulu Foreign Mail Postmarks to 1886
Honolulu Local and Inter-Island Mail Postmarks to 1886
Honolulu Postmarks, 1884 to 1900