This page last updated: 5 February 2004

::: AUXILIARY MARKS - Private Senders Marks :::

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Hono 7Aug69 cover to Victoria

A. S. Cleghorn used his private mark, AUXPRIIND-Cleghorn, on this 1869 cover to Victoria, British Columbia. The handstamp appears to have been used as a form of return address on this cover. It is the earliest use I record of a private sender mark.

Private sender handstamp marks were introduced in Hawaii at least by 1869 as shown on the cover illustrated above with the oval mark of A. S. Cleghorn. Private commercial firms picked up the idea by 1871 and others caught on. As time wore on toward the end of the 19th Century, the incidence of private sender marks increased but still most covers have no sender notation of any kind.

Most private sender marks suggest they were used to give a return address. Commercial firm marks not only indicated a return address but also showed a letter was "company mail" in the hope it would receive prompt attention in the post office and by the recipient. In addition, many commercial firm marks double as advertisements. Marks on a postal card suggest a security purpose to discourage theft of postal cards kept in an office.

Just how many of these marks exist is beyond my ability to estimate based on current information. Many are found on the back flaps of envelopes and are rarely noted in auction information, making it difficult to be thorough. Examples of private sender marks are illustrated on the pages shown below. Feedback to these pages undoubtedly will add to the number of marks. For more examples of advertiser marks, see Local Mail Advertising Covers.

Judging rarity or scarcity of private sender marks is still too speculative for me. Where I have an opinion on scarcity, it is indicated in the right column. Perhaps the feedback will produce sufficient information to establish at least a preliminary census. Usage periods shown are also tentative and based on scant information so the usage ranges can be improved.

A descriptive reference system is used here for the private sender marks. Regardless of whether it is a ranch mark, that of an individual or the mark of a commercial or other entity, the prefix for the mark is AUXPRI. The next part of the reference breaks the mark into one of four categories: COMM for a private commercial firm; AG (agriculture) for a plantation or ranch mark; CHAR for the mark of some other kind of entity such as a religious or charitable; or IND for an individual. Finally, the end of the reference will contain some part of the name of the sender.

To the extent Davey studied private sender marks, they are included in his Section 12 as "Private Company Marks." Davey listed thirteen of these marks. Of Davey's thirteen, three belong in the postmarks and I moved them there: Paauilo/Hawaii (Davey 609), Paauilo/date (Davey 610) and Volcano House (Davey 612). These deductions leave Davey's list at ten marks. An extensive collection of private sender marks was sold as a part of the Champion Sale (Shreves Philatelic Galleries, Inc., June 6, 1997) so the auction catalogue for that sale is a good reference source for marks in addition to those illustrated here.

To view the private sender marks, CLICK ON the following pages:


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