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::: TOWN POSTMARKS - Islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai :::

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Maui Group Wilkes

This group of islands lies at the heart of the main chain of islands. The largest island among them is Maui, center right, and on this 1841 map from the Wilkes Expedition it appears almost as two islands. In fact, it is one island with two ends connected by a low lying narrow isthmus. On the left as we view this map is West Maui, where Lahaina is located. East Maui is dominated by Haleakala Volcano. South of the Maui isthmus is another island, Kahoolawe, arid and uninhabited. Lanai lies to the left of West Maui and Molokai is the long sea horse shaped island north of Lanai. Oahu lies off the map to the left and the north tip of the Big Island is just visible at the lower right corner.

Maui, Molokai and Lanai are listed separately by Davey/Bash and Burns, both studies placing Molokai and Lanai after Kauai in the order of island postmarks. However, politically, geographically and practically Lanai and Molokai were connected closely to Maui. Postoffices on Molokai and Lanai were under some sort of supervision by the Lahaina postmaster and until 1886, postoffices on Molokai and Lanai were considered part of Maui in post office internal records. Post offices on Lanai remained under the jurisdiction of the Lahaina postmaster even later. Mail transportation, particularly for Lanai but often for Molokai as well, usually went via Lahaina. Thus, it makes sense to treat the three islands as a unit. For discussions of overland routes and sea routes for these islands, see Routes & Post Offices under Local and Inter-Island Mail.


Lahaina was the principal town for Maui until about 1880, when it was eclipsed by Wailuku, the business and social center for Maui's booming sugar plantations. Lahaina was the site of the first customs office on Maui, established in 1846, and was the first post office. As early as 1851, reference was made to the Lahaina post office and Missionary stamps were available for purchase there in October, 1851. Other post offices were opened on Maui under the jurisdiction of the Lahaina postmaster. Postmasters were appointed by the Lahaina postmaster in 1854 at Makawao and Wailuku and in 1856 at Kalepolepo and Olowalu, in 1857 at Kahului, in 1859 at Ulupalakua and Hana, in 1860 at Kaupo and in 1862 at Haiku, in 1867 at Keanae and in 1872 at Waihee. Matters stood there (and even receded when several offices closed: Kaupo closed in 1869, Kalepolepo closed in 1875, Keanae closed in 1876 and Waihee closed in 1878) until after the great sugar boom commenced in 1876 when Hawaii won tariff reciprocity with the United States.

Thus, at the start of 1880, Maui had eight post offices: Lahaina, Makawao, Wailuku, Olowalu, Kahului, Ulupalakua, Hana and Haiku. Sometime prior to 1880, responsibility for the Maui post offices devolved directly upon the Postmaster General at Honolulu. In the economic boom years following the Reciprocity Treaty, offices on Maui proliferated as the population and economy expanded. Kaupo re-opened in 1880 and a new office was located at Kipahulu. Kaupo closed again for a few years, starting in 1881 but a new office was opened at Paia that year. In quick succession, new offices were opened all over East Maui: Hamakuapoko (1882), Spreckelsville (1883), Huelo (1884), Hamoa (1885) and Makena (1888). At the start of 1890 there were fifteen offices. In the 1890's the Haiku office was closed (1893) but Kaupo re-opened (1890), Waihee re-opened (1891), Keanae re-opened (1894) and new offices were opened at Kihei (1893), Keokea (1893), Peahi (1894), Pauwela (1894), Waiakoa (1894) and Nahiku (1899).

On Molokai, the first post office was at Kaluaaha where a post office was established in 1856, followed by Kaunakakai in 1858. The entire island was served by these two offices until 1882, when the Kaluaaha office was closed. An office was opened at Pukoo in 1882 and the Kamalo office was opened in 1884 to replace the Kaluaaha office. The postmaster at Kaunakakai was R. W. Meyer who lived at nearby Kalae. As Kaunakakai grew to be the more prominent town on Molokai, Meyer became the principal postal officer on the island. Until 1885, jurisdiction over the Molokai offices remained with the Lahaina postmaster, but in fact R. W. Meyer was the de facto head of the postal service on Molokai from an earlier date, probably about 1880, and reported directly to the Postmaster General.

Lanai had a post office at Koele, the ranch headquarters, starting about 1866. A second post office was opened in 1899 at Keomuku.


Hamakuapoko ms _Jan92

Postmarked January 4, 1892 at Honolulu, this double weight letter for Wisconsin was franked with a pair of the 5 ultramarine, Scott No. 39, was mailed from Hamakuapoko, Maui where it received a manuscript postmark from that town and manuscript 1 oz. notation for the double rate.

By my count, eighty-six postmarks were used on Maui at one time or another, including seven manuscripts (Haiku, Hamakuapoko, Hana, Kaupo, two styles of Keanae, Lahaina and Ulupalakua) and two tentative marks (Kahului 281.02 and Ulupalakua 254.02). The first device was the beautiful Lahaina Custom House round mark with the fully rigged sailing ship. Lahaina postmaster C. S. Bartow also used his name as a manuscript cancel before the first dating stamp was issued by the post office to Lahaina in 1862 (I include Bartow's manuscript in the eighty-four for this island although it fails to meet my test for a postmark because there is no reference to the town name). The first date stamp was postmark type 243.02. Lahaina received another marking device (type 242.13) in 1868. Wailuku received its first mark (the oval type 215 found only as a backstamp) in 1869, Makawao received its first mark (type 243.02) in 1870 and Waihee received a marking device (type 237.03) in 1876. In July, 1879, the first of several type 238.02 marking devices used on Maui were used at Lahaina and Makawao. Haiku and Wailuku started using type 238.02 marks in August, 1879 and the similar type 238.42 went into use at Kahului in July, 1880. The first of many rubber date stamps appeared on Maui in January, 1881, at Kahului (type 282.013). With the extraordinary rarity of some of the marks from Maui, there are no complete collections of postmarks from this island, to my knowledge. Of the eighty-six marks from Maui, I have examples of eighty in my collection (missing three of the manuscript marks, the two tentative handstamp marks and Hana 282.013).

Molokai post offices used thirteen postmarks (four of which are tentative, however), including one reported manuscript from Kaunakakai. Kaunakakai was the first office on the island to receive a date stamp (type 238.02) in 1880; Kaluaaha was next with a date stamp (238.02) in August, 1882. Completing a set of Molokai postmarks is tough enough because of the rare Kaunakakai and Kaluaaha 238.02 marks, but is compounded even further with the reports of four marks (listed here as tentative) based on partial or vague information. Of the thirteen marks, examples of seven are in my collection. Lanai had only two postmarks, one of which was the Lanai manuscript and the other (type 255.01) from the short lived plantation village at Keomuku. Luckily, I have examples of both marks from Lanai.

The post offices are listed alphabetically. Click on:

Island of Maui, Part 1 for Haiku to Kaanapali

Island of Maui, Part 2 for Kahului to Kula

Island of Maui, Part 3 for Lahaina to Peahi

Island of Maui, Part 4 for Spreckelsville to Wailuku

Islands of Molokai and Lanai

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