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::: Registered Covers and Rates :::

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Until the UPU Period, Hawaii charged 15 to register a letter. The registry fee charged by the United States was changed several times prior to 1882, as follows:
. July 1, 1855 ............................... 5
. July 1, 1863 ............................. 20
. January 1, 1869 ........................ 15
. January 1, 1874 .......................... 8
. July 1, 1875 .............................. 10

These fees were charged once per letter in addition to the regular letter rate. During the Convention Period the letter rate to the United States was 6 per half ounce. Mail destined for Europe or other countries and sent through the United States required United States postage to pay the rate from the United States to the destination country plus the registration fee.

Registered covers in this Period never show the Hawaiian rate because it was paid in cash and there was no need to reflect it on the cover. The United States fee was pre-paid with United States stamps. Once a letter was properly registered at San Francisco, it could be sent registered to any other country with which the United States had an agreement for registered mail and no additional registry fees were charged.

Hono 25Feb75 cover REG

Postmarked at Honolulu on February 25, 1875 and at San Francisco on March 21, this double weight cover shows pre-payment of the United States registry fee of 8 (US Scott Nos. 157 and 159) plus 12 Hawaiian postage (Scott No. 33). A "silent" 15 was also paid for the Hawaiian registry fee. The Reg SL #2 style straightline REGISTERED is seen on this cover. Postmarked for the sailing of the bark Deutschland on February 27, 1875, but the Deutschland sailed without the mail. Carried to San Francisco on the steamer McGregor, departing March 10, 1875 and arriving March 20.

Hono 31Jul76 cover REG

Postmarked July 31, 1876 at Honolulu, this example is a re-backed cover front showing the Reg. SL #1 style straightline REGISTERED. The United States 15 stamp (US Scott No. 163) paid the 10 registry fee charged by the United States plus the 5 GPU rate from the United States to Great Britain. Carried to San Francisco on the bark Cyane, departing August 1, 1876 and arriving August 22.

Hono 2Dec79 cover REG

Postmarked December 2, 1879, at Honolulu and December 24 at San Francisco, this triple weight cover was prepaid with the Hawaii 18 Kekuanaoa (Scott No. 34) for the letter rate and 10 United States stamps (US Scott No. 185) to pay the 10 registry fee. Carried to San Francisco on the barkentine Ella, sailing December 4, 1879 and arriving December 23.


A standard 10 registry fee was set by the UPU, prepaid with stamps of the originating country. Examples of registered mail to non-UPU countries, such as the Australasian Colonies before 1892, would use different rates, but registered mail to other UPU members would simply add 10 to the applicable letter rate. An additional charge of 5 was required for a return receipt. At the 1892 UPU Convention a requirement for using the "A. R." marking was imposed for indicating a return receipt had been purchased.

Hono 29Mar82 cover Reg

Postmarked March 29, 1882 and franked with Hawaii 1 violet (Scott No. 30b), 2 brown (Scott No. 35) and 12 black (Scott No. 36) to pay the 5 letter rate and 10 registry fee under the UPU rates.

Hono 19Apr83 Reg

Postmarked April 19, 1883 with postmark type 273.01, the earliest recorded use of that mark. In March, 1883, the Honolulu post office began using the large "R" handstamp also seen on this cover. Three 10 stamps once were on this cover, but one has fallen off, to pay 20 for a double weight letter to Europe plus the 10 UPU registry fee. Use of registry labels for foreign destinations began at New York on January 1, 1883. On mail from Hawaii to Europe, the only United States post office authorized to exchange mail with European countries was New York, so only New York registry labels will be seen on outgoing letters to Europe. On registered letters to Hawaii, we should see only San Francisco registry labels.

Hono 15Jan85 Reg

Postmarked January 15, 1885, with Honolulu postmark type 273.01. This cover is another example of a double weight registered cover to Europe.

Hono 1Jun89 cover Reg

Postmarked June 1, 1889 and franked with 35. The letter rate to Europe was 10 and this cover appears to be double weight, costing 20, leaving 15 for the registry fee. All of the registered covers I record to Europe in the years 1887 to 1890 pay a 15 registry fee although my official references say the fee should have been 10. Thrum's Annuals for 1888 and 1889 state the fee is 15. The confusion unquestionably lies in the return receipt. Until 1892, there was no requirement to show a return receipt request by a special marking. Marks on the back of this cover suggest a card was affixed by tape, suggesting a return receipt was attached to it. Please E-mail ( me if you have a different opinion about the 15 fee in this time frame.

Hono 22Oct89 Reg

Postmarked October 18, 1889 at Paia and October 22 at Honolulu, this cover also pays a 15 registry fee and a single letter rate of 10 to Europe. This cover has no apparent signs of a receipt having been attached.

Hono 12Oct92 cover Reg

Postmarked October 12, 1892, with a return receipt mark. This example is one of only two I have found with the first style of "A.R." (the other being lot 3557 in the Advertiser Sale).

Hono 8Sep93 cover reg

Postmarked September 8, 1893 with the regular oval duplex handstamp rather than with one of the Honolulu registered mail stamps. I regard the boxed REGISTERED mark as a private mark used by E. W. Holdsworth and sent to stamp dealers in England.

Hono 25Apr94 cover reg

Postmarked April 25, 1894 with postmark type 274.01, here is a rather clear example of a philatelic cover paying $1.07, a phantom weight for a regular size cover.

Hono 14Aug99 cover Reg

Postmarked August 14, 1899 with type 282.11, this cover is an example of official post office correspondence, paying the 5 letter rate and a 10 registry fee.

Hono 9May00 Reg

Postmarked May 9, 1900 with type 255.01 and the solid "R" it has the appearance of a philatelic cover considering the complicated choice of stamps to pay 50 for an eight times letter rate plus a registry fee. If the cover truly needed 50 (it is large), two of the 25 stamps would have served.


Lihue _92 cover reg

A registered cover sent at the second class rate for pamphlets. Originating at Lihue, Kauai and postmarked there with Lihue type 282.011 (the date is indistinct), this cover received the large R, MH type 701, at Honolulu but no postmark, and is franked with the 5 ultramarine, Scott No. 39, and the 12 lilac red, Scott No. 46. I interpret the fee to be the registry fee of 10, the 5 return receipt plus the pamphlet rate of 2 per 2 ounces of weight. In October, 1892, Honolulu was just starting to use the A.R. marking and I believe it was missed on this cover but a return receipt in fact was purchased.


Registered postal cards are scarce items. Commercial use of registration normally was for security either because of the nature of the communication or the value of the content. Examples known of outbound registered postal cards are philatelic uses. Inbound registered covers are no less scarce.

Hono 14Dec92

Postmarked December 14, 1892, at Honolulu with type 281.01, and sent to Budapest, Hungary. A return receipt was ordered, as indicated by the A. R. mark and the date of December 14, 1892, is the EKU for that mark. This card appears to be overpaid 2 as the rate should be 2 for the postal card, 10 for the registry fee and 5 for the return receipt. The absence of any message suggests this usage was philatelic.

Hono 1Feb93

Postmarked February 1, 1893, at Honolulu with type 274.01 and received from Germany with a San Francisco courtesy label. This card was unquestionably a commercial use judging from the nature of the communication on the reverse.

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