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::: Dual Rate Sub-Period, Sixth Sub-Period of the Late Treaty Period :::

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September 25, 1867-June 30, 1870

13Dec69 US 10c and 12c cover 300

Mailed at Honolulu on December 13, 1869, and prepaid with Hawaiian postage of 5 and U.S. postage of 22, including the 10 U.S. rate for steamer mail from Honolulu and the 12 U.S. rate for mail to England. Starting September 25, 1867, a special U.S. rate of 10 applied to mail sent by steamer between Honolulu and San Francisco.

Contract steamer service between Honolulu and San Francisco, first envisioned nearly twenty years earlier, finally arrived when the steamer Idaho docked at Honolulu on September 17, 1867. The Idaho belonged to the North Pacific Transportation Company and operated under a contract to carry mail awarded by the United States Post Office Department to the California, Oregon & Mexico Steamship Company. With the arrival of contract steam service, a new mail rate for that service was introduced. Mail taken from Honolulu by the Idaho on her return to San Francisco, departing September 25, 1867, was taken at the new steamer rate. Thus we have a dual rate system from September 25, 1867, to June 30, 1870, when a new rate was set by a Postal Convention between Hawaii and the United States. Contract steamer service was maintained throughout the remainder of the Treaty Period and for several years thereafter. Non-contract service by sailing ships and an occiasional military vessel also continued through the sub-Period. Click here for a list of mail sailings in this sub-Period.

In addition to improving mail transportation by introducing monthly steamer service between Honolulu and San Francisco, this sub-Period witnessed another, equally dramatic, improvement in 1869. Work on constructing a trans-continental railroad from San Francisco via Salt Lake had commenced before this sub-Period started. As the rail lines were extended deeper into the Sierras, on the one hand, and Westward from the Missouri River, on the other, coaches ran mail between the two railheads, with an always shrinking distance for the coaches to travel. Finally, on May 9, 1869, the two roads were joined at Promontory Point, Utah, and daily transcontinental rail service was a reality. With this change, mail took about ten days by steamer between Honolulu and San Francisco and about one week from San Francisco to New York. As this sub-Period was in its final weeks, contract mail service between Honolulu and Sydney, Australia, was put in operation, shortening the trip to under thirty days from the previous ninety days by sail or by steamer service via San Francisco, Panama and New Zealand.


The new steamer rate was 10 per half ounce, prepaid or collect, with no ship fee added, plus the Hawaiian 5 rate.

67 - 25Sep 2 US #68

Postmarked September 25 at Honolulu and October 10 at San Francisco, this cover was in the mail bag sent by the American steamer Idaho on the first trip from Honolulu under the new contract rate. The Idaho left Honolulu on September 25, 1867, and arrived San Francisco October 8. Two United States 10 (Scott No. 68) stamps frank this double weight letter. The Hawaiian rate of 10 for a double weight letter was paid in cash. The same United States postage rate was charged regardless of destination within the United States. This letter, addressed to San Leandro, across the Bay from San Francisco, paid the same rate as a letter sent to New York. The double circle San Francisco postmark was discontinued after this sailing of the Idaho as the principle postmark used on Hawaiian mail and is seen only sporadically after October 10, 1867.


Mail carried by non-contract ships continued to be charged at the 1863 rates. Several covers carried by non-contract ships were paid at the steamer rate. At first, Honolulu failed to appreciate the 1863 rate continued to apply to non-contract mail. Once the dual rate was understood, some people preferred to pay sufficient postage for the steamer in case an opportunity arose to send it by steamer. The length of time between the postmarks will usually tell whether a steamer or sailing ship carried the letter.

11Jul68 to Illinois

Postmarked July 11 at Honolulu and August 5 at San Francisco, this cover was carried to San Francisco on the American bark D. C. Murray, departing Honolulu July 11, 1868 and arriving San Francisco August 4. The Hawaiian 5 rate was paid in cash and the United States non-contract rate (3 postage and 2 ship fee) was paid with the 5 United States Scott No. 76.

15Aug68 to Stevens

Postmarked August 15 at Honolulu and September 28 at San Francisco, this cover was carried to San Francisco on the American bark Clara R. Sutil, departing Honolulu August 15, 1868, and arriving San Francisco September 26. In this case, sufficient postage was paid in Hawaiian stamps to cover the steamer rate. The steamer was due at the end of August so the Honolulu post office sent this letter by the bark, expecting it to arrive at San Francisco before the steamer mail. Only a 5 United States stamp was necessary, so the Honolulu post office made an extra 5 on the deal. As it turned out, the Clara R. Sutil arrived in San Francisco thirteen days after the steamer mail so the postal patron lost out in every category.

Hono 26Feb70 cover Africa

Postmarked February 26 at Honolulu and March 17 at San Francisco. Both the John Hancock and Jane A. Falkenberg left Honolulu February 26, 1870, and arrived San Francisco March 16, so one of them carried this letter, prepaid at the non-contract ship rate of 5 Hawaiian and 5 United States (2 ship fees plus 3 postage) for a half ounce letter. This letter is addressed to the Zulu Mission in South Africa in care of a Boston addressee, who undoubtedly placed it in a private mail bag for the Mission. On the back is a strike of the rare Wailuku oval postmark type 215 (See Island of Maui Postmarks, Part 4). The single circle San Francisco postmark is seen on nearly all mail from Hawaii in this sub-Period from October 30, 1867 to the end of the sub-Period.


165 covers from this sub-Period are recorded. They break down as 29 covers in 1867, starting with the Idaho sailing in late September, 62 covers in 1868, 42 covers in 1869 and 32 covers in the first six months of 1870. Only five stampless covers are found in the Sixth sub-Period, all in 1867 (two are prepaid and three are collect). Six collect covers are recorded, three in 1867, two in 1868 and one in 1869. Two wrappers (prepaid) are noted.

  • For a part of this sub-Period, covers taken from Honolulu by the contract steamers were marked with an oval handstamp reading "HAWAIIAN/STEAM/SERVICE. It is believed the oval was applied at the San Francisco Post Office. This mark first appeared on steamer mail leaving Honolulu with the steamer Idaho departure of November 2, 1867, postmarked at San Francisco on November 15, 1867. Regular usage stopped with covers postmarked at San Francisco on August 19, 1869 from the Idaho sailing of August 7. It was later applied on one cover to explain why the letter was taxed as underpaid. This cover was sent with the Idaho departure of November 27, 1869 and postmarked at San Francisco on December 10, 1869. Please go to Hawaiian Steam Service Oval Marking Covers for a complete listing of all covers reported with the oval Hawaiian Steam Service marking.

  • San Francisco discontinued using its double circle postmark as the principle postmark on Hawaiian mail after receiving the Idaho mail on October 10, 1867 (the mark is seen sporadically after October 10 in 1868 and 1869). With mail received by the USS Tuscarora on October 30, 1867, San Francisco used a single circle date stamp.

  • Honolulu discontinued the use of its HONOLULU/U. S. POSTAGE PAID mark (type 242.03) after October 5, 1868, with the exception of a September, 1869 use. After use of this mark was stopped, Honolulu used the HONOLULU/HAWAIIAN ISLANDS mark (type 243.03) for both prepaid and collect letters.

  • Scott No. 31, the 2 orange-red stamp from the Bank Note Issue, is found on four covers. The 5 Scott No. 32 predominates and is found on 112 covers in this sub-Period. One cover bears a 5 Scott No. 9 from the Boston Engraved Issue. No other Hawaiian stamps are noted on cover in this sub-Period. The remaining covers either bear only United States stamps, are stampless or are missing the Hawaiian stamp.

  • Identification of Scott numbers for United States stamps often is based only on auction lot descriptions and errors were probably made. Assuming identification has been made correctly, the stamp most often seen is the 10 green (US Scott No. 68 - 61 covers). Another frequently seen stamp is the 5 brown (US Scott No. 76 - 24 covers). Other United States stamps noted are: 1 (US Scott No. 63 - 1 cover); 2 (US Scott No. 73 - 4 covers, No. 87 - 1 cover, No. 93 - 7 covers and No. 113 - 3 covers); 3 (US Scott No. 65 - 6 covers, No. 94 - 2 covers and No. 114 - 3 covers plus stamped envelopes U35 - 1 cover, and U59 - 1 cover); 5 (US Scott No. 95 - 12 covers); 10 (US Scott No. 68a - 2 covers, No. 89 - 11 covers, No. 96 - 7 covers and No. 116 - 9 covers); 12 (US Scott No. 69 - 2 covers, No. 97 - 1 cover and No. 117 - 1 cover); 15 (US Scott No. 98 - 3 covers); 24 (US Scott No. 78 - 1 cover); and 30 (US Scott No. 71 - 2 covers and No. 100 - 1 cover). Many covers bear combinations of more than one type of United States stamp. In this sub-Period, United States stamps were not distributed to outlying post offices or sold over the counter at Honolulu but instead were used only by clerks at the Honolulu to frank prepaid letters. United States postage could be prepaid with cash or by affixing sufficient Hawaiian postage stamps to cover the combined postage and Honolulu would put the appropriate amount of United States stamps on the cover.


67 - 22 Oct stampless

Postmarked October 22 at Honolulu and November 11 at San Francisco, this prepaid stampless cover was carried to San Francisco on the American bark Comet, leaving Honolulu October 22, 1867, and arriving San Francisco November 9. The Hawaiian postage was free for Postmaster Paul Isenberg, who wrote his name in manuscript, and the United States postage was charged to his account. Stampless foreign covers, although allowed, were actively discouraged by Hawaiian postal authorities, as were letters with United States postage unpaid.


Mail sent by a contract steamer with United States postage unpaid was taxed 10 to collect. By this time frame, collect letters were hardly ever used.

68 - Apr 3 collect

Postmarked April 3 at Honolulu and April 17 at San Francisco, this cover was carried to San Francisco by the steamer Idaho, leaving Honolulu April 3, 1868 and arriving San Francisco April 15. At that time, Honolulu was still using the HONOLULU/U. S. POSTAGE PAID postmark for prepaid letters and the HONOLULU/HAWAIIAN-ISLANDS postmark for collect letters. The appearance of that postmark and the 10 rate mark applied at San Francisco show the letter was treated as unpaid despite the pair of 5 United States stamps (Scott No. 76). If the letter was weighed at less than a half ounce in Honolulu, but weighed a half ounce or more in San Francisco, the "10" represents an underpayment, but in that case, one must wonder why Honolulu used its collect mail postmark. A clear strike of the oval HAWAIIAN/STEAM/SERVICE mark is seen on this cover.

68 - Nov 14 collect

Postmarked November 14 at Honolulu and November 26 at San Francisco, this cover bears the Hawaiian Steam Service oval mark used for a short time to identify steamer mail taken from Honolulu to San Francisco. The cover also bears a "10" rate mark to show it was taxed 10 to collect. Postmarked November 14 at Honolulu and November 25 at San Francisco, this cover was carried by the steamer Idaho departing Honolulu November 14, 1868, and arriving San Francisco November 26.

69 - Apr 22 Scott 32 collect

Another collect letter, this one postmarked April 22 at Honolulu and May 6 at San Francisco, this cover was carried to San Francisco on the steamer Idaho, leaving Honolulu April 22, 1869 and arriving San Francisco May 6. The letter was addressed to Samuel Hill in San Francisco, showing the collect steamer rate to San Francisco was 10.


wrapper 31x2 + US 93x2

Recall that the Treaty required prepayment of United States postage on newspapers. In the 1863 United States rates, the charge for a transient newspaper was 2 for each 4 ounces. The 1867 contract added another 2 to that rate. The Hawaiian rate was 2 plus 2 if originating outside Honolulu. The wrapper illustrated above originated at Hilo, as seen in the large "H" cancellation and was carried at the contract rate of 4 United States postage.


69 - Apr 22 Hughes Black Jack

Postmarked at Honolulu April 22 and at San Francisco May 6, this cover was carried by the steamer Idaho, departing Honolulu April 22, 1869, and arriving San Francisco May 6. Hawaiian postage of 5 was paid by the 5 Scott No. 32 and the United States contract rate of 10 was paid by two 2 stamps (US Scott No. 93) and two 3 stamps (US Scott No. 94).

68 - Dec 5 to Loveland

Postmarked December 5 at Honolulu and December 17 at San Francisco, this cover was carried on the steamer Montana, departing Honolulu December 5, 1868, and arriving San Francisco December 17. Note the Honolulu post office was by then using the same postmark for prepaid letters as had been used for collect letters and no longer used the U. S. POSTAGE PAID postmark. Franked with the 5 Hawaiian stamp (Scott No. 32) and a 10 United States stamp (US Scott No. 68).


69 - Aug 7 to Victoria

Postmarked August 7 at Honolulu and August 23 at San Francisco, this cover was carried by the steamer Idaho, departing Honolulu August 7, 1869, and arriving San Francisco August 19. Addressed to Victoria, British Columbia, this cover was franked with two United States 10 stamps (US Scott No. 68) to pay the 10 contract rate plus the 10 rate according to the treaty between the United States and British Columbia. This cover lacks the oval Hawaiian Steam Service mark but other covers in the same mail bag received the mark. No covers with the mark are known after the August 7, 1869 mail.


67 - 1 Oct Tillman

Postmarked October 1 at Honolulu and October 30 at San Francisco, this cover was carried to San Francisco on the USS Tuscarora, departing October 1, 1867 and arriving October 30. One should be struck by the early use of the two ring target cancel, but then one should also be put on guard. An image of this cover in a 1954 Fox Auction shows another strip of Scott No. 31 originally graced this cover but had what some earlier collector/dealer must have thought was an unsightly pen cancel. The cover has been "improved" with a new strip of three and partially painted in cancels to appear as if the stamps are tied. In my opinion, alterations of this type are intolerable. At least the United States stamp originated.


Hobron inbound 10

Inbound letters of this sub-Period typically are franked with sufficient postage to pay the steamer rate and usually were carried by the steamers.

14Apr68 Inward from Valparaiso

This cover originated in Valparaiso, Chile and was routed from Valparaiso to Panama by coastal steamer and then went to San Francisco by coastal steamer. U.S. postage for the steamer rate from San Francisco was prepaid.


Hono 22Jun70 cover

Postmarked June 22 at Honolulu and July 5 at San Francisco, this cover was carried from Honolulu by the American contract steamer Ajax, departing Honolulu June 23, 1870 and arriving San Francisco July 4. The Ajax carried the last mail bag from Honolulu under the Treaty Period.


Sharbaugh, A. Harry, "A Study of 1867-1870 Hawaiian Steam Service Covers", Po'Oleka O Hawaii, Part I, No. 26, p. 1-9, Jan., 1982; Part II, No. 35, p. 1-14, April, 1984. this two part article is an outstanding analysis of rates and cancels of this period.

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