This page last updated: 26 February 2005

::: UPU PERIOD - First Class Covers :::

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Letter rates fixed by the Universal Postal Union were applicable to mail from Hawaii to other member countries. Rates to non-member countries were set by treaty or practice. Rates for some destinations changed during the course of Hawaii's membership either because the UPU fixed a new rate or because a country became a member of the UPU. See Mail Rates. Honolulu postmarks used on first class letters in the UPU Period up to 1886 are set out in Honolulu Postmarks. Click here for a study of Honolulu Postmarks 1884-1900.

First Class Mail To North America, Including Canada and Mexico

During the entire span of the UPU Period, the letter rate to these destinations was unchanged at 5 per ounce.

Hono 15Jan82 30,35

Postmarked January 15, 1882 and franked with a 1 violet (Scott No. 30b) and a pair of 2 Kalakaua (Scott No. 35) for the new UPU 5 rate. The first mail from Honolulu under the UPU rate was sent by the schooner Anna with 179 letters, departing January 4, 1882 and arriving San Francisco January 24. The next mail was by the steamer Australia with 5,955 letters, departing January 17 and arriving January 24, the same day as the Anna. Mail by the Anna has not been noted yet so this cover from the Australia mail is the first recorded UPU cover, postmarked with type 235.12. Notice the "N" of "HONOLULU" in the postmark has an intact cross-stroke. The cross stroke fell out a few months later. See Honolulu Postmarks.

Hono 13Jun00 82

Postmarked June 13, 1900, the last day of Hawaii's independent postal system. The 5 UPU rate remained in force until midnight, June 13. The next day, United States domestic postal rates applied so this letter would cost only 2 if mailed June 14, 1900.

Hono 30Jun84 39 wailuku
Postmarked June 30, 1884 and sent to Nova Scotia at the 5 rate. This cover originated at Wailuku, Maui and was postmarked there June 27, 1884 with Wailuku postmark type 285.012.

First Class Mail to Other UPU Destinations Beyond North America

Letters to other UPU member countries cost 10 per ounce until January 1, 1893, when the rate was dropped to 5.

Hono 7Apr82 32

Postmarked April 7, 1882 at Honolulu and franked with a pair of the 5 Scott No. 32 to pay the 10 single letter rate to Europe in effect until January 1, 1893. This cover for Scotland originated at Wailuku, Maui, and was postmarked there with the Wailuku 238.02 mark.

Hono 21Jun93 59 France

Postmarked June 21, 1893 and franked with the 5 overprinted Scott No. 59 to pay the 5 rate to Europe effective January 1, 1893.

First Class Mail To UPU Ports And UPU Member Nations In Asia

The letter rate to Asian UPU destinations followed the same history as those to Europe: 10 until January 1, 1893, and 5 thereafter.

Hono 20Mar88 UPSS 10

Postmarked March 20, 1888 at Honolulu and sent to Japan at the 10 rate then prevailing. This cover originated at the town of Hilea on the island of Hawaii and was postmarked there with the rare Hilea 282.016 postmark (1RRRR).

Hono 27Aug88 39,43 UPSS 7 China

Postmarked August 27, 1888 and sent to Swatow, China via Hong Kong on the steamer Arabic, departing Honolulu August 28 for Hong Kong via Yokohama. This cover is overpaid 1.

Hono 7Sep86 UPSS10
Hono 7Sep86 UPSS10 back

Front and back of a 10 envelope UPSS 10 to Ceylon, postmarked September 7, 1886 at Honolulu. The "Via Australia" mark is a ship, not a route, designation. This cover was sent on the steamer Australia to San Francisco and thence to Colombo, Ceylon via New York, Paris and Marseilles, France. Ceylon was a UPU member so the rate was 10 per ounce. The manuscript "20" suggests this was a double weight cover and a 10 stamp once was affixed to the left of the envelope frank.

Hono 18Jul93 67

This letter to Japan postmarked July 18, 1893 is a double weight letter franked with the 10 vermilion overprinted stamp (Scott No. 67) for the rate is effect from January 1, 1893.

First Class Mail To Australasia

Britain's Australasian Colonies were notably outside the UPU until October 1, 1891. Mail to these destinations continued to cost 12 per ounce up to September 30, 1891. Upon their entry to the UPU, the rate dropped to 5.

Hono 10Apr87 43,39 Aust PdAl

A double weight letter rated at 24 and postmarked April 10, 1887. The oval "PAID ALL" mark replaced an earlier straight line PAID ALL, seen in use in 1885. These stand-alone "PAID ALL" marks were applied aboard ships operating under contract with the New Zealand government. This cover was carried by the Oceanic Steamship Company steamer Alameda, departing Honolulu April 16, 1887.

Hono 27Oct93 55,57 NSW

Postmarked October 27, 1893, this cover was franked with a pair of the overprinted 2 stamps (Scott No. 57) and a single 1 overprinted stamp (Scott No. 55) to pay the 5 UPU rate to Australia after October 1, 1891.

Hono 12Feb92 46 Samoa

Samoa and Fiji did not join the UPU when New Zealand and the Australian Colonies joined. Mail for Fiji and Samoa destinations carried aboard the New Zealand steamers continued to be rated at 12. This cover for Samoa is postmarked February 12, 1892 and franked with the 12 Scott No. 46.

Soldier Letters after August 12, 1898 - Annexation Day in Hawaii

Once Hawaii was annexed to the United States, mail sent by American soldiers in Hawaii cost 2, the then current domestic rate in America. See Soldiers Mail.

Hono 17Aug98

Postmarked August 17, 1898 and franked with the 2 brown Scott No. 75 to pay the soldiers rate after annexation.

United States Government Employee 2 Rate To The United States

Hono 25May00 81 USempl

Postmarked May 25, 1900 and sent to San Francisco at the United States domestic 2 rate three weeks before that rate was available to ordinary citizens of Hawaii. As Hawaii prepared for transition to a Territory in May, 1900, United States federal employees were arriving to help with the transition or to take up new jobs in the Territory. Vague references exist to a regulation allowing these employees to mail their letters at the 2 United States domestic rate. I have not found the regulation but this cover evidences the existence of that rate. Without more information, it is impossible to give parameters or specifics about the rate. Please E-mail ( me if you have information about this rate or additional covers showing the rate.

Around the World Covers

1891 No. 52
1891 No. 52 reverse

Sending covers around the world was a philatelic sport in the 19th Century. This cover is an Egyptian postal envelope mailed from Alexandria September 9, 1891. It was next postmarked at Erfurt, Germany (October 14, 1891). At that point, the original addressee apparently decided to send the cover around the world. Probably he enclosed address strips with names of correspondents who could be trusted to forward the envelope and pay whatever added postage was needed. Several layers of address strips are pasted on the front. The cover was sent on its way via London (Oct. 20), San Francisco (November 2, 1891) and Honolulu (November 19, 1891). From Honolulu, it went to Australia and received multiple Australian postmarks (Park Street, NSW, Dec. 2, Melbourne, Dec. 9 and Hamilton, Victoria, Dec. 10). Next it went to Hong Kong (January 13, 1892) and Bangkok (January 26). No further postmarks record its final route, but the topmost address slip is to Herr Bauer in Erfurt. Presumably the cover reached him in February, 1892. In addition to the Egyptian franked envelope, the cover bears adhesive stamps from Germany (20pf, Scott No. 49), Hawaii (three 2c, Scott No. 52), New South Wales (2 1/2 p, Scott No. 89) and Thailand [Siam] (12a, Scott No. 16). For Hawaii Scott No. 52, the cover represents the earliest recorded use. Six cents overpaid the new rate from Hawaii to Australia by a penny.

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