This page last updated: 23 February 2005


::: UPU PERIOD :::

HAWAII AS A MEMBER OF THE UNIVERSAL POSTAL UNION
JANUARY 1, 1882 to JUNE 13, 1900

Hono 18Jun99 76 full flag

For two years Arthur Brickwood, Hawaii's venerable Postmaster General, resisted joining the Universal Postal Union. In January, 1881, King Kalakaua left on a ten month tour of the world and left his sister Princess Lydia Liliuokalani in charge of the kingdom. By the time Kalakaua returned, Brickwood was replaced as Postmaster General by Jonathan Kapena and Hawaii was set to become a member of the UPU. Hawaii's membership was effective January 1, 1882. Hawaii remained a member of the UPU for eighteen years, continuing its independent membership even after becoming a possession of the United States on August 12, 1898, and finally ending its membership on June 14, 1900, when Hawaii became a United States Territory.

Membership in the UPU meant mail to UPU member countries could be prepaid in full with Hawaiian stamps. Further, the UPU fixed rates for postal cards and mandated each member to issue them for foreign mail, so Hawaii ordered postal cards for both domestic and foreign mail. UPU rates also were set for registration of mail, newspapers, books, circulars and other printed matter. Rate changes by the UPU during these eighteen years applied automatically to Hawaiian mail. Some countries, notably the Australasian Colonies, joined the UPU after Hawaii so non-UPU rates applied to those countries until they joined. See Mail Rates. Also see UPU First Class Rates Illustrated On Covers. A registration fee applied to Registered Letters, addressed as part of a special study on the full scope of that subject. Also, after Hawaii was annexed to the United States on August 12, 1898, a special 2 rate applied to Soldiers Mail, covered in a separate study. Hawaiian stamps used on foreign mail in the UPU Period are discussed at American Bank Note Company stamps, Provisional Government Issue, Pictorial Issue and Official Issue.

When the UPU Period started, mail transportation basically was restricted to two routes: 1) the mail steamers and non-contract fleet of sailing ships between Honolulu and San Francisco; and 2) the mail steamers from Sydney or Auckland to San Francisco via Honolulu. By the time this Period ended, mail steamers were also going to Japan and China and to Vancouver. In the later years of this Period, mail was still carried to San Francisco by sailing ship, but most went by one of the frequent steamers.

UPU map

If a Hawaiian postal period ending a century ago can be considered "modern" this is it. Abundant stamp issues of sophisticated design, steel die postmarking devices, late letter markings, dead letter markings, express company covers, advertising covers, registered mail, paquebot covers, consular covers and exotic destinations reflect a mature postal system, a polyglot domestic society and an importance in world status. Some of these same features support an exciting postal history period to collect.

Mixed frankings and United States stamps on outbound covers, seen in the prior Periods, are almost eliminated in this Period. United States stamps are seen on covers from Hawaii in four ways during this Period: 1) to pay the United States special delivery fee with a United States special delivery stamp; 2) on inbound packet boat covers addressed to destinations outside Hawaii; 3) on United States prepaid return reply postal cards; and 4) on soldier letters after annexation. See United States Stamps On Mail From Hawaii. Otherwise, the use of stamps of other countries was unnecessary on outbound mail. Please E-mail (scott312@earthlink.net) me if you can add another category.

An emergence of "philatelic" covers ended the "innocence" of Hawaiian postal history. Collectors seeking "pure" commercial covers (covers created and sent merely to convey a message) consider "philatelic" covers (genuinely used covers created for stamp collectors to exhibit stamps on cover) less worthy. See Philatelic Covers. Other collectors find these covers fascinating souvenirs from days when Hawaii was the most popular country in the world to collect.

For other studies of the UPU Period, please click on:

UPU First Class Rates Illustrated On Covers

UPU Postal Cards

UPU Post Cards

Second Class Mail and Postmarks

Letters Mailed Shipside or Aboard Ship: Loose Letters, Late Letters, New Zealand Marine Post Office and Paquebot

Hawaiian Stamps On Foreign Mail

Hawaiian Postal Stationery in Foreign Mail

United States Stamps On Mail From Hawaii

Taxed Letters and Cards

Dead Letters and Missent Letters

Inbound Letters and Micronesia Mail

Fumigated Mail and Other Epidemic Covers

Advertising Covers in the UPU Period

Patriotic Covers

UPU Consular and Other Official Covers

Philatelic Covers



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