This page last updated: 5 January 2009

52 - Oct 4 Scott 1 and 2 to NYC Walske

Courtesy of Siegel Auction Galleries, Advertiser lot 9

Hawaii's first stamps are known as the Missionary Issue. Four stamps of three values - 2¢, 5¢ and 13¢ - comprise the issue, all printed locally by letterpress at the Government Printing Office. Missionaries are assigned Hawaii Nos. 1-4 by Scott Catalogue. The first three stamps in the issue were announced for sale on October 1, 1851, at the Honolulu and Lahaina post offices. By early April, 1852, the fourth stamp was printed to correct confusion and state clearly the 13¢ value was to pay both Hawaiian and United States postage through to any East Coast United States destination.

Missionaries were issued and used while stamp collecting was a "school-boy" hobby in England and Europe. Few examples of these stamps were retained. When adult collectors and stamp periodicals began to pay attention, Missionaries were immediately recognized as among the rarest of all postage stamps and high prices reflected the intense interest in them. Forgers quickly made imitations for sale, some marketed as space fillers and some as attempts at fraud. Around 1919, a group of forgeries known as the Grinnell Missionaries came to light. In a celebrated lawsuit in Los Angeles, California, the Grinnells were declared fakes in 1922, but the fight to have them found genuine has been pursued into the 21st Century. Recently, after an intense two year examination using modern high technology the Grinnells once more were found to be fakes by the Expert Committee of the Royal Philatelic Society London.

Interest in Missionaries was stimulated by the November, 1995, auction of the vast Advertiser Collection. Missionaries locked in collections for decades, some for more than one hundred years, came to market and more collectors are now able to count them in their collections.

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For Grinnell Study, click Here.

5¢ FFG

2¢ Missionary (Scott No. 1) first issued October 1, 1851, was intended for payment of the 2¢ foreign mail rate on newspapers but also was used to pay the 2¢ ship fee on letters. This example was canceled with a black "Jupiter" cancel (cirgrid20-7(uneven) see Cancels - Bars > Circular Grids).

5¢ Missionary (Scott No. 2) first issued October 1, 1851 to pay the Hawaiian postage on foreign mail. This example was struck with the circular grid of small squares (cirgrid 28-6(6 x 5) see Cancels - Bars > Circular Grids).

13¢ FFG
13¢ 4 FFG

13¢ Missionary (Scott No. 3) with "Hawaiian Postage" first issued October 1, 1851 to pay the 13¢ combined United States and Hawaiian postage for a single letter bound to an Eastern United States destination. This example is canceled with the red "sunburst" probably made with an inked piece of sponge (misc?(sponge) see Cancels - Miscellaneous).

13¢ Missionary (Scott No. 4) with "H. I. & U.S. Postage" first issued by early April, 1852, to eliminate confusion over whether Hawaii's stamp included the United States postage of 8¢. This example is canceled with the black "Jupiter" cancel (cirgrid20 -7(uneven) see Cancels - Bars > Circular Grids). San Francisco postmarked the stamp with a circle date stamp in blue ink used only in December, 1852 and January, 1853 (Williams type SAF-350; see San Francisco Manuscript, Straightline and Single Circle Postmarks to 1870).

Printed on a fragile pelure paper .0015" thick, the stamps are easily damaged and most known examples are repaired. The 2¢ stamp pictured above once belonged to Henry Crocker. When he bought it in the 1890's a small piece was missing from the top left corner. Later Crocker bought some scraps of Hawaiian stamps and among them was the missing piece. He had the piece restored to its original place. The 5¢ stamp above is missing the bottom margin and frameline, which has been added and painted in with some additional repair work to the upper margin. This stamp also is re-backed, a preservation step taken with many Missionaries. The bottom left example on this page has a portion of a border line mended by expertly added paper with the missing stamp portion painted in. The bottom right example is intact with a few paper wrinkles but no repairs. For the Missionaries, I define minor damage to include adding a portion of a border line or sealing a tear, thin or small hole and carefully painting in the repair to match the original. Repairs affecting the fancy borders at the center of the stamp or the lettering are more serious than minor, in my estimation, for pricing purposes. I personally disagree with doing repair work of any kind on the Missionaries (other than to prevent further damage, such as sealing a tear) so the foregoing is a description of market acceptance, not of approval.


Henry Whitney

Henry Whitney, Honolulu's first postmaster directed the design and printing of the Missionaries. Whitney was also employed by the Government Printing Office which published the Polynesian, Hawaii's principal weekly newspaper at the time. Printing of the Missionaries was done at the Government Printing Office possibly on a small press used for printing business cards or cartes de visite. A form of two subjects was made from type available at the Polynesian or at the Mission House where the monthly Friend was published.

The printing form had two clichés side by side and each was different than the other. Type I is the left hand subject and Type II is the right hand subject in the form. Scott Trepel has suggested the order of printing began with the 5¢ value because the small "n" of type II was in the wrong font and was corrected for the 2¢ value. The 13¢ Hawaiian Postage followed and around April, 1852, the 13¢ H. I. & U.S. was issued. In type II of the latter, the period after the "U" is missing. See Volume 1 of Siegel Auction No. 769, the Advertiser Sale, p. xi-xv.

Type I

The main feature of Type I is the leg of the "P" is located mid-way under the "H"

Type II

In Type II, the leg of the "P" is located under the left leg of the "H"

Scott 1 Pietsch
Scott 1 unused

Courtesy Shreve Philatelic Galleries, Pietsch Sale, lot 1001

Courtesy Siegel Auction Galleries, Advertiser Sale, lot 11

Scott 2 adv 16
Scott 2 Pietsch

Courtesy Siegel Auction Galleries, Advertiser Sale, lot 16

Note the small "n" in "Cents"
Courtesy Shreve Philatelic Galleries, Pietsch Sale, lot 1002

Scott 3 adv 21
Scott 3 Pietsch

Courtesy Siegel Auction Galleries, Advertiser Sale, lot 21

Courtesy Shreve Philatelic Galleries, Pietsch Sale, lot 1004

Scott 4 Pietsch
Scott 4 adv 25

Courtesy Shreve Philatelic Galleries, Pietsch Sale, lot 1006

Note the missing period after "U"
Courtesy Siegel Auction Galleries, Advertiser Sale, lot 25


Local and Inter-island mail was carried free of charge until 1859, well after use of the Missionaries was discontinued. Thus the Missionaries were issued to pay the international rates then in effect. Postage rates and mail arrangements of the early 1850's are detailed in the Foreign Mail page. Click here for a list of recorded Missionary covers.

  • The 2¢ stamp also was used to pay the 2¢ ship fee on letters.

  • The 2¢ value was issued to pay the Hawaiian portion of the newspaper rate.

  • Hawaii charged 5¢ postage to carry mail from the Honolulu post office to a ship in the harbor and the 5¢ value was for that rate. If only 5¢ was paid, the letter was sent with United States postage unpaid.

  • Hawaii also charged 5¢ for incoming letters, collected at delivery. Two inward covers, both addressed to Mrs. Pogue at Lahainaluna, are franked with the 5¢ stamp. Mrs. Pogue was Henry Whitney's sister and it is believed Henry Whitney added the stamps at Honolulu to relieve his sister from having to pay postage on delivery.

  • Someone who wanted to fully prepay the Hawaiian and United States combined postage on a single weight letter bound to the Eastern states could do so with the 13¢ stamp. This rate included the 5¢ Hawaiian foreign mail charge plus the 6¢ rate from San Francisco to the East via Panama plus a 2¢ ship fee paid by the San Francisco post office to the captain of a vessel bringing mail. Each additional half ounce cost only 11¢ but no stamp of that value was issued.

  • The first 13¢ stamp confused its purpose by using the words "Hawaiian Postage." It was replaced with another 13¢ stamp with "H.I. & U. S. Postage" in place of "Hawaiian Postage." Most reference sources give November, 1852 as the time when the second 13¢ stamp was issued, but a folded letter with a confirmed date of April, 1852 shows those sources were incorrect.


This page will attempt to maintain three ongoing projects: identifying the earliest known use ("EKU") of each stamp in this issue; updating a Missionary Census as new information is received; and listing important studies in a bibliography. You can help develop this page by sending an Email ( with your questions.


Scott No. Value Issue Date EKU Notes
#1 Oct. 1, 1851 Feb. 6, 1852 On piece with red SF cds March 15; the stamp would have left Hawaii on the February 6, 1852 sailing; the only known cover is dated October 4, 1852.
#2 Oct. 1, 1851 Sep. 11, 1852 Postmarked on cover.
#3 13¢ Oct. 1, 1851 Dec. 30, 1851 Datelined contents in a cover from Kahului, Maui; the cover has no postmark.
#4 13¢ Apr., 1852 Apr. 23, 1852 Postmarked on cover; datelined contents from Honolulu; the exact issue date was never documented but agitation to clarify the wording arose in late March, 1852.


Scott No. Value Stamps Unused Stamps Used On Cover Total Notes
1 1 13 1 15 One of the off cover stamps is on a piece.
2 12 40 10 63 Two off cover stamps are on pieces and the covers include the cover bearing both the 5¢ and 2¢ values. The used stamps include one more than listed in the Siegel census - a 5¢ stamp auctioned by Fox in May, 1955.
3 13¢ 7 51 13 71 Two of the off cover stamps are on pieces and one of those pieces also bears the 2¢ value. Three stamps listed as on cover are all on the same cover so only 11 separate covers are recorded. The stamp on one cover is merely a fragment.
4 13¢ 8 34 9 51 Four off cover stamps are on pieces.
Totals 28 138 32 200 The total number of covers bearing missionary stamps is 30 because of multiple stamps on a single cover.


Encyclopedia Of Rare And Famous Stamps, David Feldman SA, Geneva, Switzerland, 1993, Norman Williams tells the tale of how the Missionary Issue burst into the European philatelic consciousness. The chapter dealing with the Missionaries is entitled "Hawaii" at pages 117-142. Williams and his late brother Maurice authored many important books and articles on stamps and their production. Several of their works focused on the great rarities of philately and included the 2¢ Missionary. Norman's more recent book does not substitute for books such as Stamps of Fame but instead takes a different approach. He has produced a significant and fascinating study about the origins of the hobby as well as the revelation of the Missionary Issue to the European philatelic press. If you have access to it and read Italian, you can find the essence of the Hawaii chapter in "I 'Missionari' Delle Hawaii una storia filatelica...." at Il Nuovo Corriere Filatelico, Vol. IX-X, June 1983-April, 1984. A shortened version of that article was published as "The Hawaiian Missionaries," Stamps and Foreign Stamps, Dec., 1985, pages 34-39.

Vol. 1, catalogue, Advertiser Collection Sale, Siegel Auction Galleries, Sale No. 769. It would be tough to beat this catalogue as a display and study of the known Missionary stamps. The catalogue is blessed with photographs of more Missionaries than have ever been assembled for auction (or in any collection for that matter putting aside the fact that the Advertiser Collection itself once included more Missionaries than it possessed at the time of the sale). Siegel Galleries' Scott Trepel also included several important studies of the Missionaries and at the back of Vol. 1 sets forth an attempt at a census of each of the four Missionary stamps. Williams had accomplished a census of the 2¢ value but Trepel's is the first modern comprehensive effort to count and to describe all of the stamps and his census is nearly complete. I happen to disagree with Trepel's conclusion about how the sunburst cancel was created because sugar cane, if it were used, should have left enough sugar and acid residue to damage the stamps over time. I believe the cancels were produced with a sponge fragment.

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