This page last updated: 2 August 2000

::: San Francisco Postmarks Found on Hawaiian Mail 1867 to 1900 :::

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Proliferation of postmarks at the San Francisco office and also increased volume of mail between San Francisco and Honolulu make it difficult to record all examples of San Francisco postmarks found on Hawaii related mail in this time frame. This problem increases after about 1880. Also compounding the problem of being complete is the practice at San Francisco of using devices making similar but not exactly identical marks. Mahoney does a good job of pulling together similar markings in his several Appendices to facilitate comparison and exact identification. Here are examples of San Francisco postmarks found on Hawaii related mail from 1870 to 1900.

Usage Dates given are for the range reported by Mahoney or Williams based on the usage period at San Francisco. The period of use on Hawaiian mail usually is only a part of the total period of use.


Starting at the end of 1867, the San Francisco office stopped using the double circle postmarks as the device to mark incoming mail from Hawaii at least on a regular basis. Stray uses of the double circle show up in the 1870's but most letters were marked with one of many single circle date stamps. During the Convention Period lasting from July 1, 1870 to December 31, 1881, terms of the Hawaii United States Postal Convention mandated use of the phrase "paid all" in the postmarks and also specified they were to be in red ink. After Hawaii joined the Universal Postal Union effective January 1, 1882, the phrase no longer was required but use of "paid all" cancels at the San Francisco post office continued nonetheless. Moreover, during the Convention Period, San Francisco also used postmarks without the phrase "paid all" so consistency of conformance to the Convention apparently was unimportant, at least as a receiving mark or transit mark on mail from Hawaii. Mail destined for Hawaii probably always carried the "paid all" postmark. In 1894, San Francisco began using machines to postmark letters but even after machine cancels became standard, some letters were marked with the circle date stamps. For ease of identification, the circle date stamps can be segregated into categories according to the word arrangements found in them.


Two marks used in the early 1870's have the word "PAID" in them without with word "ALL."

SF PAID 4Aug70

August 4, 1870

Mahoney type 8-1
Williams type SAF 660
32mm; magenta, red
Usage: August 4, 1870 to March 2, 1871
This variety of Mahoney type 8 has only the word "PAID" at the bottom without a numeral. Note also "SAN" with the smaller letters "AN" and "CAL."

SF PAID 10Dec70

December 10, 1870

SF PAID 15May75

May 15, 1875

Mahoney type 18-1
Williams type SAF 680
33mm; magenta, red
Usage: August 5, 1870 to May 15, 1875


Marks with "CAL." at the bottom of the circle and a day/month center first appeared in 1867 and the earliest are identified in the page for pre-1870 marks (repeated here for comparison because their use extended into the 1870's). The number of similar style in this category is particularly bewildering. Mahoney identified thirteen distinct marks of this type, ranging in size from 24mm circles to 28mm circles, and collected them together in his Appendix 1. All of the varieties in Mahoney's Appendix 1 are lumped together as type 19 in his list (except one, broken out and given type 29). Williams separates these marks as types SAF 640, 670, 790, 800, 810, 830, 840, 870, 880, 920, 930, 970 and 1000 (arriving at the same number of varieties as Mahoney but the tracings show some differences). Two tracings by Williams have no period following "CAL" but all of Mahoney's tracings show a period.

Mahoney's Appendix 2 shows sixteen varieties of "CAL." marks with a day/month/time center (no year date), ranging in size from 26mm circles to 28mm circles. All of the varieties in Appendix 2 are lumped together in Mahoney's list as type 24. A similar mark missing the "N" in "Francisco" is type 23. I have not noted type 23 on Hawaiian mail. Williams separates these marks as types SAF 860, 890, 900, 910, 960, 980 and 990.

SF CAL_ 11Nov67

November 11, 1867

1. Mahoney type 19 (see his Appendix 1 for the various "CAL" marks he includes in type 19
Williams SAF 640
23.5mm; black, red
Usage: March 4, 1866 to August 15, 1870
The letters of "AL" of "CAL." are larger than styles 2 and 3, below. The gap between the "S" of "San Francisco" and the "C" of "CAL." is 4mm

SF CAL_ 27Sep69

September 27, 1869

2. Mahoney Appendix 1, type 19
Williams type SAF 670
23.5mm; black
Usage: March 8, 1868 to September 6, 1870
"AL" smaller than in style 1; note the small font size for the month and day date. Space between "S" and "C" = 5mm.

SF CAL_ 15Nov67 red

November 15, 1867

SF CAL_ 17mar70

March 17, 1870

SF CAL_ 6Sep70

September 6, 1870

3. Mahoney Appendix 1, type 19
Williams type SAF 790
23.5mm; black
Usage: November 15, 1867 to April 28, 1875
"AL" smaller than in style 1, but is the same as in style 2; note the small font size for the month but the font size for the day is larger than in type 670. Space between "S" and "C" = 3.5mm.

SF CAL 5Jul70

July 5, 1870

4. Mahoney Appendix 1, type 19
Williams type SAF 800, but not quite the same
24mm; black
Usage: July 5, 1870 to December 16, 1874
The month date is larger than in the preceding marks, but the day date once again is small, and "AL" is the same size as the "C." Williams's type 800 comes closest. Space between "S" and "C" = 4mm.

SF CAL_ 13Dec76

December 13, 1876

5. Mahoney type Appendix 1, type 19
Williams type SAF 870 or 880
27mm; red
Usage: October, 1873 to March 16, 1878
Wide gap between month and day; 4.5mm separation between "S" and "C." Williams shows a period in type 880 but it is missing in type 870. Another similar mark has a 6mm separation between the "S" and "C" and perhaps Williams intended one of these styles to refer to that mark. Space between "S" and "C" = 5mm.

SF CAL_ 21Nov75

November 21, 1875

6. Mahoney Appendix 1, type 19
Williams type SAF 930, but not quite the same
26mm; black
Usage: November 21, 1875 to June 13, 1877
Lettering of postmark is set well inside the ring of the circle; the date has a medium size font for the month and very large font for the day. Space between "S" and "C" = 3mm.

SF CAL_ 6Oct80

October 6, 1880

7. Mahoney Appendix 2, type 24
Williams type SAF 890
27.5mm; black
Usage: September 18, 1875 to October 6, 1880
Space between "S" and "C" = 3mm. Although many styles have a third line for the time of day, I have noted few used on Hawaii mail.

SF CAL 7Jul97

July 7, 1897

8. Mahoney unlisted
Williams unlisted
This circle date stamp is the same as tracings used by Mahoney and Williams to illustrate flag machine cancels but this mark is found without the flag. A diagonal 2 machine cancel overlaps the circle date stamp.


"PAID ALL" or "PD. ALL" marks are quite common on Hawaii mail passing through San Francisco. Click here for a study of the PAID ALL and PD. ALL Marks.


Although San Francisco used a large number of duplex handstamps with an elliptical or oval canceller attached, I find few Hawaii related covers bearing them. Williams puts them all in Appendix 6 and shows 63 varieties. He separates many into different type numbers beginning with type 548. Williams also shows numerous duplex marks, beginning with SAF 1010 with a usage period for the duplex marks from December 21, 1878 to January 29, 1902.

Numeral 3 in duplex

SF duplex3 3Jul81

July 3, 1881

Mahoney type 548, Appendix 6, type A
Williams type SAF 1030
23.5mm; black
Usage: December 23, 1880 to August 1, 1891

Numeral 8 in duplex

SF duplex 3Nov84

November 3, 1884

Mahoney type 550, Appendix 6, type B
Williams type SAF 1130
23.5mm; black
Usage: October 18, 1884 to January 10, 1894

Numeral 18 in duplex with solid sides

SF duplex 2Dec99 sold

December 2, 1899

Mahoney Appendix 6, type E
Williams type SAF 1670
25mm; black
Usage: May 31, 1893 to February 14, 1900


These marks were used in the 1880's and early 1890's at the San Francisco post office. Mahoney lists five varieties as types 320, 321, 322, 329 and 331 (the first two types with STM. SHIP; type 329 spells out "STEAMSHIP" and type 322 and 331 have ST. SHIP). I have not noted the type with the full word spelled out on Hawaii related covers. Williams also lists the same five styles as SAF 740 (STEAMSHIP), 750 and 751 (ST. SHIP) and 770 and 780 (STM. SHIP). Mahoney types 320, 321 and 322 and Williams types SAF 760, 770 and 780 have the letter "D" below the date.


SF ST_SHIP 31Jul81 red

July 31, 1881

SF ST_SHIP 31Jul81

July 31, 1881

Mahoney type 331
Williams type SAF 750
27mm; red, black
Usage: November 14, 1876 to July 31, 1881
This style is the only one without the "D."


SF ST_SHIP 13Aug87

August 13, 1887

SF ST_SHIP 21Apr88

April 21, 1888

Mahoney type 322
Williams type SAF 760
27.5mm; black
Usage: June 14, 1877 to December 13, 1889
This style is the only "D" with "ST. SHIP"



September 1, 1888

Mahoney type 320
Williams type SAF 770
27.5mm; red
Usage: December 21, 1883 to January 15, 1891
A space is between the period and "SHIP"



November 27, 1887

Mahoney type 321
Williams type SAF 780
27mm; black
Usage: November 27, 1887 to August 10, 1888
"SHIP" is close to the period


Mahoney and Williams show three "F. D." marks. They are Mahoney types 42, 45 and 48 or Williams types SAF 2020, 2090 and 2130. The first two styles (Mahoney 42, Williams SAF 2020 and Mahoney 45, Williams 2090) have a three line date. I have noted only the second and third types on Hawaii related mail. The first type (Mahoney 42/Williams 2020) is a 30mm circle.

SF FD 10Nov92

November 10, 1892

Mahoney type 45
Williams type SAF 2090
26.5mm; black
Usage: November 15, 1890 to January 14, 1897

SF FD 10Oct95

October 10, 1895

Mahoney type 48
Williams type SAF 2130
26.5mm; black
Usage: February 12, 1893 to November 15, 1899
This style has a two line date unlike the other "F. D." types.

"REC'D" MARKS with or without "F. D."

In these marks, "REC'D" is at the bottom. In one style, "F. D." appears just below the date and above "REC'D." Mahoney lists the one mark with the "F. D." (type 31) and seven other styles with REC'D at the bottom (types 33, 34, 35, 37, 41, 43, 44). In types 33 and 34, Mahoney's tracing shows no comma and in type 43, REC'D is along the side instead of at the bottom. Other REC'D marks are listed under the various station letters. Williams lists none of these marks.

SF FD REC'D 13Dec86

December 13, 1886

SF FD REC'D 26Nov87

November 26, 1887

Mahoney type 31
Williams unlisted
27mm; red, black
Usage: February, 1880 to August, 1890

SF REC'D 23Jun85

June 23, 1885

Mahoney type 37
Williams unlisted
28mm; black
Usage: May, 1884 to November, 1893
Four line month/day/time/year

SF REC'D 26May96 Mah41

May 26, 1896

Mahoney type 41
Williams unlisted
27mm; black
Usage: August, 1888 to March, 1900
Three line month day/time/year

SF REC'D STA D 12Aug93

August 12, 1893

Mahoney type 609
Williams unlisted
Usage: August 12, 1893 to May, 1896
Various San Francisco stations also had REC'D marks. This style is from Station D (wharf at the foot of Market Street).


Several marks contain the word "BOX." All have a number in them as well. Mahoney uses four tracings to illustrate the styles (types 47, 50, 53 and 56) and gives the numbers associated with each style. Williams lists each number variety as a separate mark (types SAF 2560, 2580-2730 and 2750-2770).

SF BOX 28Nov96

November 28, 1896

Mahoney type 50
Williams type SAF 2750
27.5mm; black
Usage: October, 1893 to October 3, 1898
Four line month/day/time/year

SF BOX 22May99

May 22, 1899

Mahoney type 56
Williams type SAF 2770
28.5mm; black
Usage: May 22, 1899 to September 15, 1899
Three line date.


San Francisco carrier and special delivery circle date stamps have been noted.

SF Carrier Dec73

December, 1873

Mahoney type 382
Williams unlisted
Usage: November, 1873 to November, 1877

specdev cds

December 15, 1894

Mahoney type 496
Williams type SAF 2060
39.5mm; purple
Usage: 1886-1895


San Francisco began using a series of machine postmarks in 1894. The following are examples found on mail from or to Hawaii. Click here for a study of machine cancels.

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