Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Postcard Friendship Friday: Hawaii Goes Postal

Post Office, Honolulu Hawaii, 1871-1922

In the above postcard, directly to the right of the P.O. you will see a smaller recessed building which served as the post office in 1851.

Aloha and mele (merry) Postcard Friendship Friday! Today in History, October 1, 1851, saw the issue of the first Hawaii Postage stamps.

13 Cent Missionary Stamp

The new stamps were printed in four denominations, including the 13 cent stamp which was used for mail going to the east coast of the United States. These first stamps were known as the Missionary Stamps. The stamp shown in the above picture was hand canceled, probably by using a sponge and red ink according to a very helpful website I referenced for this post: Post Office in Paradise.

Letter with Two Cent Missionary Stamps

This letter, posted on the issue date was sent to 273 Cherry Street on Manhattan Island, New York near the edge of the East River.

Which looked like this.
Cherry St. is on the right side that "thumb", just above the curve.

Hawaii's Postmaster General Henry Whitney

Who looked like this.

Henry Whitney was appointed first Postmaster General of Hawaii. He oversaw the printing of the first stamps, he also appointed postmasters throughout the Islands, and set up regular overland and steamship mail routes within the islands. Prior to the organized mail delivery, messages were sent by word of mouth, or by letters entrusted to travelers, steamship captains and friends going in the general area of the delivery site. Imagine, if you will, a word of mouth message:

"Miz Matilda, a dismal bloke by the name of William Perty said to come and tell you he's wanting to break off your engagement. Lookin' at you, I can't for the life of me see why he would want to do that, but none the less, he sends his regrets and implores you to send the bloody ring back as it belongs to his dear mother, who I remember to be quite the sour sort, so if you ask me, you should look upon this not as a misfortune but as an opportunity to find someone who deserves a pretty lass like you. A brighter bloke, perhaps, who is a little less "light on his feet" (not that there is anything wrong with that) and who doesn't sip his soup like a frigging canary. Anyway, Miz. That's the message. I'll be happy to help you up off the street now, dust you off, and find you some smelling salts if you like before I go search out Mr. Whorton Mullgoon and let him know his bank went bust and his entire family has been blowed into the Atlantic by a nasty cyclone."

If you understand the mountainous geography of the Islands you will know that mail delivery was difficult, treacherous at times, and slow.

Hawaii Postage Paid Post Card

This 2 cent postcard made it's way from Hawaii to Java in just over a year. It was mailed in January 1896 and arrived in February 1897. The postmarks show part of the mailing rout: Honolulu/San Francisco/New York/England/Batvia/Suez/Java.

Early overseas mail was entrusted to travelers, ships captains or ships chandlers. Arrival depended on the trustworthiness of the bearer and the ship arriving safely in port. Copies of legal documents and important papers were often sent on several ships. Should one ship meet with disaster, another would deliver a copy of the document.

Hawaii's ports, naval stations and trade routes, circa 1850.

US mail came in via San Francisco.

Message and Reply Card

This 1883 two sided Message and Reply Card included paid postage and a perforation for folding and tearing.

I gathered information for this post with the help of Wikipedia and the Post Office in Paradise and hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed learning about posting letters in paradise!

Stop by The Best Hearts Are Crunchy for more Postcard Friendship Friday. Also, take time to find and read Eudora Welty's short story "Why I Live At the P.O." It's a delightful read.



Debs said...

Fascinating and exhaustively researched post! The image of the post office is so NOT the picture I have of Hawaii in my head...too many Elvis movies and episodes of Lost maybe?! Thanks for filling in some history for me... Happy PFF!

Snap said...

What an interesting post about paradise AKA Hawaii! Well done! Happy PFF!

Joy said...

Great prepaid postcard with all the postmarks, going from one island to another and seeing the journey, fascinating. I do like the Hawaii trade routes map which really accentuates its geographical position.

Irene said...

What a informative post, great cards.

Bob of Holland said...

Aloha! What a beautiful card. Your research resulted again in an informative and fun post. And I sure love to visit all these unknown-to-me places with PFF.

Carole said...

Great postcard, and fascinating history.

Aimee Dars said...

Fascinating history and great images!

Sheila @ A Postcard a Day said...

How wonderful that one card can start you off on a trail of discover that becomes so fascinating. I've thoroughly enjoyed this post, thank you!