This page last updated: 13 May 2010


SEPTEMBER 1, 1863 TO JUNE 30, 1870

Hawaiian Steam Service 68 - Apr 3

United States rates were reduced substantially, effective July 1, 1863. Word of the new rates reached Honolulu August 30, 1863. The first mail bags made up by the Honolulu post office at the new rate were sent September 9, 1863, carried by the American bark Comet, sailing September 10. During the interim between July 1 and August 30, the Honolulu post office charged mail sent to San Francisco at the higher rates of the Middle Treaty Period.

This Period and the entire Treaty Period comes to a close on June 30, 1870 and a new Postal Convention between Hawaii and the United States took effect July 1, 1870. The last recorded mail of the Treaty Period was postmarked at Honolulu on June 23, 1870.

During the Late Treaty Period, the United States rate was 3 per half ounce (exclusive of the 2 ship fee), prepaid, or 6 per half ounce (including the ship fee), collect. When contract steamship service between Honolulu and San Francisco was inaugurated by the United States in September, 1867, a special rate for mail carried by the steamer was imposed at 10 per half ounce (no ship fee was charged on mail carried by a contract vessel), prepaid or collect. Mail carried by means other than one of the monthly steamers still was charged at the lower 3 plus 2 rate. See Mail Rates.

Despite the simplicity of rates during the Late Treaty Period, mistakes, confusion and dual rates require us to break the Late Period into six sub-Periods for better understanding:

First Sub-Period: Late Treaty rates in effect for Hawaiian mail conformed to the rates established in the Postal Act of 1863.

Error Rate Sub-Periods:

  • Second Sub-Period: San Francisco erroneously imposed a foreign mail rate of 10 per half ounce, pursuant to a new United States postal rate applicable to mail from countries without a treaty with the United States.
  • Third Sub-Period: Honolulu learned of the new rate and assumed a 2 ship fee was to be added so began charging letters at 12 for the first half ounce and 10 for each additional ounce.
  • Fourth Sub-Period: Honolulu learned the 10 rate included the ship fee so Honolulu charged letters at 10 per half ounce.

Fifth Sub-Period: Meanwhile, San Francisco learned the 10 rate was inapplicable to mail from Hawaii because of the existing treaty and notified Honolulu the change to a 10 rate was a mistake, Rates again conformed to the rates established in the Postal Act of 1863, except collect mail (by then greatly diminished in use) was charged 8 instead of the 6 called for in the 1863 Act.

Sixth Sub-Period: Once contract steamer service was inaugurated in September, 1867, dual rates applied: 1) a 10 per half ounce rate on mail sent by the contract steamer prepaid or collect and regardless of destination; and 2) regular 1863 rates on mail sent by ships other than the contract steamers.

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