Categories of Postal Markings
Markings found on Hawaiian mail fall into several broad categories.
- First there are Postmarks, meaning a mark designating a post office name. Many
but not all postmarks incorporate a date and may indicate the post office of origin,
a transit mark to show the name of a post office along the cover's transit route, or
a post office of destination. In this study, Hawaiian postmarks are divided into
Honolulu Postmarks and
Town Postmarks. Former studies refer to Hawaiian
postmarks as town cancels but the label is incorrect. Cancels
typically are used to deface the stamp and although postmarks sometimes served the
purpose of a cancel, all cancels are not postmarks and all postmarks are not cancels.
Therefore, this study treats cancels as a different category.
- Next are Cancels, meaning a mark used to obliterate
or deface a stamp to prevent its re-use. These marks have no post office name or
date incorporated in them. Cancels used by foreign post offices are discussed below
under Foreign Postal Markings.
- Then there are Service Marks, used by the
Hawaiian Postal Service to give information to the sender, recipient or another post
office down the mail stream. See also,
Registered Letters for that sub-class of
Hawaiian service marks. Service marks used by foreign post offices are discussed
below under Foreign Postal Markings.
- Another broad category of marks are known as
Auxiliary Marks and refers to marks placed on covers by
non-official, semi-official or official non-postal sources. Many but not all auxiliary marks refer in
some way to the condition or handling of mail.
- Foreign postmarks, cancels, service marks and auxiliary marks appearing on
Hawaiian stamps are vast and attempting to be complete would be quite challenging.
Some foreign markings, particularly those associated with the West Coast exchange
offices (the post office officially designated by a country to receive or send
foreign mail) of San Francisco, Tacoma, Victoria and Vancouver, are described in
Foreign Postal Markings. This group includes foreign
postmarks, cancels, service marks and auxiliary marks placed on a cover by or in a
foreign country. See also, NZMPO and Paquebot Marks and
- At the end of this section is a page called
Mysteries. Unidentified marks will be posted
there to encourage feedback that might help identify them.
- For type references and rarity scales, see Describing Postal Markings.
- For Postal Mailing lexicon and pricing, see Pricing, Terms and Condition.