This cover originated at Lahaina, Maui on May 15, 1883 and commenced a four island
Odyssey seeking A. Lowenberg, Esq. First it was taken to Oahu and postmarked at
Honolulu on May 18. Then it went to Kauai and was postmarked at Kapaa and Koloa. Back
it went to Honolulu on August 3 and then down to Hawaii where it was postmarked at Hilo.
Mr. Lowenberg must have been found somewhere because the letter did not become a "dead
Postmarks must include the name of a post office,
by my definition. Hawaiian town postmarks thus must
include the name of Honolulu or a "country post office" – that is – a post office
outside Honolulu. This page will deal primarily (but not exclusively) with the country
offices, as Hawaii's postal authorities called them in the 19th Century.
Postmarks used at Honolulu constitute a separate study. See
Honolulu Postmarks. Honolulu postmarks appeared in
November, 1850. Country offices had no postmarks until August 1, 1859, when the 2¢
letter rate was imposed. "Postmarks" are distinguished from "cancels" by the presence
of the office name. Many early marks used at the country offices are really cancels
and thus are covered in the study of Cancels.
Similarly, service marks (only a few were used at country offices) are dealt with under
Service Marks. Finally, marks falling within
the broad definition of auxiliary marks are dealt with in
DAVEY/BASH SYSTEM OF TOWN POSTMARK IDENTIFICATION
John K. Bash and William J. Davey collaborated during the 1930's and 1940's to produce
the Standard Identification System
for Hawaiian Town Postmarks. The culmination of their effort is Part III of Meyer and
Harris. In essence, the system is an adaptation of the Dewey Decimal System commonly
used for organizing library books. Over the years, the types assigned by Davey and
Bash have become known as Meyer Harris or MH types.
Since publication of Meyer and Harris, the most significant publications about town postmarks are the updates produced by Edward J. Burns listed in the Town Postmark Bibliography. Burns held to
the basic Meyer and Harris identification system.
For a graphic study of the Davey/Bash system, please click on
Davey/Bash Identification System Illustrated.
EVOLUTION OF TOWN POSTMARKS
When the 2¢ rate first was imposed there was uncertainty over whether it would survive
or be repealed. Until the Postal Service became more certain the 2¢ rate would be
retained it was unwilling to spend money on postmarks for even the major country
offices. At Hilo and Lahaina, the custom seals were pressed into service as postmarks.
The postmaster at Laupahoehoe in North Hilo fashioned a crude LAUP/HILO mark. At some
country offices, the postmaster wrote the name of the post office in pen, creating a
manuscript postmark. These custom seals, the LAUP/HILO mark and early manuscript
postmarks form the start of Hawaii's Town Postmarks.
For detail on the Evolution of Town Postmarks, click Here.
SUMMARY OF TOWN POSTMARKS
By my count, between 1850 and 1900 three hundred and three (303) separate handstamp postmarking devices were
used at one time or another at island post offices, including Honolulu. Included in this number are nine
handstamps listed as tentative. In addition to the handstamps, I count forty-one distinct manuscript markings.
Honolulu alone accounts for thirty-nine of the handstamp postmarks. Country offices account for 264 handstamp
postmarks and all of the manuscript postmarks.
For a summary of prior Listings, Deletion, Tentative Marks and Rarities, click Here.