This page last updated: 10 July 2000

::: San Francisco Rate Marks :::

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Numeral Rate Marks:

2 Red

December 18, 1850

U. S. postage on a letter received at a port was 6 if brought by a non-contract vessel. This "ship rate" included a charge of 2 paid to the ship's captain as a "ship fee." The ship fee was charged once per letter, regardless of weight. Normally, the full 6 ship rate was charged because most letters were sent collect. The sender of the letter bearing this mark might have attempted to prepay it but, being unfamiliar with the ship fee, mistakenly thought the rate was 4 and the cover was rated to collect the underpayment when the letter was picked up at the post office.

5 black on Staples Ranch cover

February 14, 1859

For the rate on collect mail to inland California and Oregon, to 1863. Note the large ball at the end of the tail on the "5."

5 black 27Sep64

September 27, 1864

For underpaid postage at the error rate in August-September, 1864. Note the hook at the end of the tail on the "5."

5 ms

August 3, 1861

Used with the large SHIP mark (Mahoney type 305) to show the inland California rate

6 red

April 5, 1852

For the 6 United States postage rate. Noted on prepaid mail while the San Francisco post office rated Hawaiian prepaid letters at 6 rather than 8.

8 red circle 1Nov52

November 1, 1852

For the 8 United States rate including the 2 ship fee. Seen in orange-red, magenta, blue or black. Usage: May 1, 1852 to September 10, 1853 and again on collect mail in 1865.

10 black

For the 10 rate to collect on letters with United States postage unpaid at the steamer rate in 1867-1870.

12 black

For the 12 rate to collect on letters with United States postage unpaid in the Early or Middle Treaty Periods.

14 ms

July 1, 1852

For double weight prepaid letters in the Early Treaty Period

22 black

May 16, 1855

22 red

September 20, 1859

For double weight prepaid letters in the Middle Treaty Period; seen in combination with the "SHIP" mark, Mahoney type 305.

32 ms

June 1, 1855

For triple weight prepaid letters in the Middle Treaty Period

Manuscript "40"

40 ms red

June 20, 1849

Boxed "40"

40 boxed

November 20, 1849

Stamped "40"

40 red

June 14, 1851

"40" for rate, without the incoming ship fee, from San Francisco to the Eastern United States in the Pre-Treaty and Inaugural Treaty Periods. This rate did not include the 2 ship fee paid for bringing the letter to the San Francisco post office. Omission of the ship fee probably was due to one of three reasons: 1) in the early days, the San Francisco post office perhaps was unaware of the ship fee; 2) the ship captain or a passenger carried the letter as a favor to the sender and entered it into the mail at San Francisco without that office becoming aware of its origin; 3) after the Treaty Period commenced and until September, 1851, Hawaii paid the 2 ship fee from the 10 it collected on foreign mail being paid by Hawaii.

42 ms over 6

June 1, 1850

42 ms

March 1, 1851

For the 42 rate on letters with United States postage unpaid in the Inaugural Treaty Period and Pre-Treaty Period.

80 red

December 14, 1850

For a double weight letter in the Inaugural Treaty Period.

Ship Marks:

SHIP black

December 16, 1864

SHIP, Mahoney type 305; red, black; Used extensively throughout the Early and Middle Treaty Periods to designate an incoming collect letter subject to the ship fee. Always used in combination with a stamped or manuscript numeral mark to show the amount to be collected.


March 6, 1864

SHIP 4 used to designate the incoming ship letter rate to San Francisco in the late Treaty Period.


April 21, 1863

SHIP 5, Mahoney type 311; used for the 5 rate to inland California and from 1861 for San Francisco.

Ship 6 ms

August 12, 1849

Ship 6
Manuscript Ship 6. Typically, letters from Hawaii addressed to residents in San Francisco were sent with the United States postage unpaid and were marked to collect the 6 incoming ship fee from the addressee when the letter was picked up at the post office. The 6 rate was charged once per letter regardless of weight.

SHIP 6 clamshell - black from Davis cover

January 25, 1850

SHIP 6 18 Oct 50 red clamshell

November 14, 1850

SHIP 6 late clamshell

December 19, 1860

"Clamshell" Ship 6; Mahoney types 307 and 316; Usage: January 25, 1850 to December 19, 1860. The mark first was made with black ink; the ink was changed to red by June 1, 1850. In 1851, the ink was changed back to black. In late 1860, the mark was greatly deteriorated, leading Mahoney to give the late appearance a new type, number 316.

SHIP 6 straight 24May64

May 24, 1864

SHIP and 6 29Jul64

July 29, 1864

SHIP 6, Mahoney type 308 (top image on left); black These Ship 6 marks were unrelated to the ship fee on mail to San Francisco. Rather, they were used for collect mail in the Late Treaty Period. The top image is an integrated SHIP 6 and the bottom image is a combination of Mahoney type 305 and an unattached numeral "6."

SHIP. 12

May 13, 1863

SHIP.12, Mahoney, type 210 Used for collect mail in the Middle Treaty Period

Ship 42 ms

June 1, 1850

Manuscript Ship 42, used for collect mail instead of the clamshell SHIP 6.

PAID Marks:

PAID red

June 14, 1851

PAID, Mahoney type 337 18mm x 5mm, red

PAID red 1852

March 20, 1852

PAID blue 1Dec52

December 1, 1852

PAID black 16Jun55

June 16, 1855

PAID, Mahoney types 336 and 339; 20mm x 6mm; red, blue or black; more than one device was used as the black image seems different than the red and blue and measures closer to 19mm long with its flat "D" - note also the thicker left leg on the "A."


November 28, 1853

PAID/8/SHIP, Mahoney type 309; black. Usage: September 20, 1853 to March 31, 1855. Used to indicate the 8 rate on incoming prepaid mail from Hawaii.

PAID 12 black

November 20, 1855

PAID 12 red 5Jan57

January 5, 1857

PAID 12, Mahoney type 335 red or black

22 paid ms 13Apr60

April 13, 1860

22 paid manuscript


Due 4

January 4, 1864

Due 4; Mahoney type 436-2

Due 12 12Dec59

December 12, 1859

Due 12 manuscript

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