This page last updated: 2 April 2018

Advertised 20Sep cover

This inward cover was on the dead letters list in the Pacific Commercial Advertiser edition of September 20, 1867.

Service Marks are the various marks used by the Hawaiian Postal Service to convey information to the recipient or sender of mail or to another post office down the mail stream. These marks include advice marks, collection marks, dead letter office marks, late letter marks, rate marks, registered letter marks and tax marks. Service marks used on registered letters sent in the foreign mail are discussed at Registered Letters. Registered marks used on local and inter-island mail are addressed below on this page. Auxiliary Marks are those used by other government offices, foreign postal services, unofficial sources such as forwarders, ships or ship pursers, railroads, express companies and commercial or ecclesiastic sources including plantations, mission stations and merchants. Another page is devoted to the Auxiliary Marks. Jim Shaffer has made valuable contributions to the study of both the service marks and the auxiliary marks and brought to light several of the unrecorded marks.


This phrase is meant to include the various handstamps used to tell a recipient of a letter reasons for the condition of an envelope or to explain a delay in transit. The two styles of "Too Late" marks meant a letter arrived too late to be included in a mail shipment so it was held over for the next shipment. Otherwise, these marks seem self-explanatory. These "advice marks" have received little notice and only two, the FORWARDED mark and the all capitalized TOO LATE mark, are noted in MH. Indeed, the tracing of the latter mark in MH suggests they observed a somewhat different style than is imaged below. Hopefully this effort to put some focus on the advice marks will lead to recording additional strikes or other marks. Please E-mail ( me if you can add to the usage period and number of recorded strikes or if you can add other advice marks.

MH #423


December 23, 1895

41mm x 4mm; purple
Usage: December 23, 1895 - January 4, 1898
One strike recorded; noted on a domestic mail postal card.
Rarity 1RRRR

MH unrecorded

Missent to Honolulu_ Jan98

January, 1898

Missent to/Honolulu
2 lines; 35mm top line, 30mm bottom line; purple
Usage: January, 1898
One strike recorded; noted on a cover from Germany to New Jersey and sent to Honolulu by mistake.
Rarity 1RRRR

MH unrecorded

Newspaper  Mail

[News] Paper/Mail
Usage: uncertain; this partial strike is the only one I have seen. It could be a foreign mark. The stamp also has a Honolulu squared circle postmark used for second class mail from January, 1897 to February, 1900.

MH unrecorded

Received at Honolulu in Bad Cond

December 16, 1897

2 lines; 43mm top line, 35mm bottom line; purple
Usage: December 16, 1897
One strike recorded; noted as a backstamp on an inbound foreign mail letter.
Rarity 1RRRR

MH unrecorded

Received in bad condition

February 19, 1896

Received in bad Condition
1 line italicized; black
Usage: August 1, 1894 to February 19, 1896
Two strikes are recorded; noted as a backstamp on domestic covers.
Rarity 1RRRR

MH unrecorded

Received in this Condition Burns8May90

May 8, 1890

1 line all capital unserifed letters; black
Usage: May 8, 1890 to January 2, 1892
Two strikes are recorded.
Rarity 1RRRR

MH unrecorded

Received in this Condition 21May95

May 21, 1895

Received in this Condition
1 line italicized; black
Usage: September 27, 1894
Two strikes recorded; noted as a backstamp on domestic covers.
Rarity 1RRRR

MH unrecorded


February 21, 1899

1 line; 52mm, black
Usage: February 21, 1899
One strike recorded; noted as a backstamp on a domestic cover.
Rarity 1RRRR

MH Unrecorded

Too late 8Aug90

August 6, 1890

Too late
1 line, but apparently formed from two unattached devices; overall 26mm x 5mm; purplish black
Usage: August 6, 1890
One strike recorded, noted on a domestic cover mailed from Paia, Maui; the mark probably was used at Kahului, Maui, to denote the letter arrived there too late to forward to Honolulu that day.
Rarity 1RRRR

MH #765


September 7, 1897

1 line, 32mm x 4.5mm; black
Usage: September 7, 1897 to October 10, 1897
Two strikes are recorded; noted only on domestic covers.
Rarity 1RRRR

MH unrecorded

Too Late 31May98

May 31, 1898

Too Late
1 line, 26mm; purple
Usage: __, 1896 to June 1, 1900
Four strikes are recorded; noted on local inter-island mail and also on outbound foreign mail.
Rarity 1RRRR


Two styles of marks were used to indicate the time a letter was collected from a place in Honolulu for depositing letters away from the main post office. The explanation usually given is that the marks refer to collection from a letter box, but some covers I have seen seem inconsistent with this explanation.

MH #753

COLL 10_10 am 5Jul95

July 5, 1895

COLL 3_50 pm 9Jun96

September 29, 1896

COLL. 10.10 A.M. or 3.50 P. M.
1 line, 40mm x 3.5mm; purple
Usage: 1895-1896
Scarcity 2

MH #752


December 14, 1899


September 9, 1898

COLLECTION 9:25 A. M. or 3:20 P. M.
1 line, 40mm x 2.5mm
Usage: 1898-1899
Scarcity 2


From its earliest days, the Honolulu Post Office advertised undelivered letters in the local newspaper. Unclaimed letters were treated as dead letters. In the 1860's the Honolulu Post Office briefly employed a mark to show a letter was advertised (see the image at the top of this page). That mark was retired until the late 1880's. In the 1890's, the Honolulu Post Office used a variety of marks associated with the dead letter office. Some of these marks were noted in MH, but several were not. Please E-mail ( me if you can add more strikes to those indicated as rare, if you can expand the usage period or if you can other dead letter office marks. Click here for images of the Dead Letter Office Marks.


These marks reflect payment of an extra fee for processing a late letter so they are a sub-category of rate marks rather than an advice mark. Starting in mid-1882, people who brought their letters to the Honolulu Post Office after the posted closing time for a mail shipment were charged an additional 5 fee to have their letters included in the mail. The fee was charged more to discourage the practice of bringing in late letters than for revenue. Two different marks were used to indicate a late letter fee was charged. Examples I have seen thus far are on covers sent abroad. A mark identified in MH as type 758 is said to have "Late Fee" above and "Maui" below, but I have not seen it, if it actually exists. After the mid-1880's, the Honolulu Post Office used its regular postmark on late letters.

MH #759

Late Letter 2Jul82

July 2, 1882

31mm; purple; no date
Usage: July 2, 1882 to October 1, 1884
Rarity 1RRR

MH unrecorded

Late Letter 16Mar86

March 16, 1886

34mm; black, purple
Usage: June 15, 1885 to September 1, 1886
Rarity 1RRR


Several varieties of rate marks were used in Hawaii, most by the Honolulu Post Office on foreign mail. Click here for a study of the rate marks.


The following marks are registered marks associated with the local and inter-island mail. Registered marks associated with mail sent abroad are discussed at Registered Letters. Little attention has been paid to these marks so much remains unknown. Please E-mail ( me if you have additional information about these marks.

MH unrecorded

MS Reg 31

Manuscript Reg[istered]
Usage: late 1880's; this partial mark is on a Scott No. 31 stamp

MH unrecorded

REGISTERED - Kauai - 200 8Oct97

Usage: October 8, 1897 to March 10, 1900; so far this mark always is associated with mail (foreign or inter-island) originating on Kauai.

MH unrecorded

Koloa reg 10May99

May 10, 1899

Usage: from Koloa, Kauai, 1899
Rarity 1RRR


Marks used to indicate postage due are found on outbound and inward foreign mail covers and also on domestic mail covers. On foreign mail, UPU rules required the originating country to indicate the amount of postage due in values of French centimes. Five French centimes equaled one cent Hawaiian. The destination country translated the amount due into local currency. Only one of these marks is reported in MH, the "COLLECT, _ _ _ _ _ _ CENTS" mark. A "COLLECT, 10 CENTS" mark is known in addition to the 6 and 2 cents examples shown. Other tax mark examples and values may exist.

Outbound Foreign Mail Marks

MH unrecorded

T25CEN~1 T 50 CENTIMES 23Jul87

T with a value/CENTIMES
purple, black
Values are noted in 5, 10, 15, 25, 50 and 100 centimes; the 100 is written in manuscript on the one cover I have seen with that value.
Usage in the 1890's.

Inbound and Domestic Mail Marks

MH unrecorded

Tax COLLECT 24Mar85

March 24, 1885

1 line, 34mm x 5mm; blue
Usage: this could be a Wells Fargo mark; one strike is noted

MH unrecorded

Tax 10 due 25Dec86

December 25, 1886

10 due
manuscript; red
Usage: on inbound foreign mail before handstamped collect marks were used. Indicates an underpayment of 5 so the recipient was charged double the amount underpaid.

MH unrecorded

Tax _06 due 22Mar92

March 22, 1892

06 Due
manuscript; red
Usage: on inbound foreign mail before handstamped collect marks were used. Indicates an underpayment of 3 so the recipient was charged double the underpayment.

MH unrecorded

Tax Collect, 6 Cents 9Jul95

July 9, 1895

1 line, 55mm; purple and red
Usage: June, 1895 to May, 1899; seen on inward foreign mail underpaid 3 so the recipient was charged double the underpayment.

MH #763

Tax Collect,....Cents 19Jan95

January 19, 1895

Tax Collect, ....Cents 19Dec99

December 19, 1899

COLLECT, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ CENTS.
1 line, 58mm; purple, red
Usage: seen on inward foreign mail and on domestic mail.

MH unrecorded

Tax Collect_ 2 Cents_ 10Feb99

February 10, 1899

1 line, 55mm; red
Usage: noted on domestic mail.


Someone decided to "improve" philatelic covers for scarce high value stamps by adding a "SPECIAL POSTAL DELIVERY" mark, thus making it appear a higher rate was needed to justify use of high value stamps. There was no such service apart from the normal registered mail service. I have seen the bogus mark on two covers, each bearing a genuine Honolulu postmark with an overprinted stamps. Noted so far are covers with the 18 double overprint, Scott No. 71a and with the 12 red lilac overprinted in red, Scott No. 63.

MH unrecorded

Bogus SpecPostDel 13Mar94 detail

March 13, 1894

Noted with Honolulu postmarks dated March 13, 1894

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