Arago: Handstamps


Spread eagle handstamp


This marking stamp represents a figural linen marker. Other popular designs were 'eagle and stars' and 'kissing doves'. While this device may or may not have been used to postmark mail, it is representative of similar marking devices that were.

Prior to the 1890s, postmasters of small offices were required to supply their own postmarking equipment at their own expense. Linen markers were less expensive and more attractive than marking stamps from postal supply houses. They are made from molded type metal with a center mortise. A small, wood bulb handle was pressed onto the shaft that extended from the mold. Individual type characters were set within the center cavity to spell out the name of a town and state and then held in place by the end-mounted set screw. Month, date, and year type were not set into the mortise. Instead, the date was ordinarily added by pen-and-ink manuscript notation.

19th century
figurative: eagle (above slot for type); figurative: stars (below slot)
wood; metal
Height x Width x Depth: 1 x 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 in. (2.54 x 6.35 x 6.35 cm)
Museum ID:

  • Spread eagle handstamp
  • Handstamp
Additional Records
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  • Union, ME, duplex  handstamp

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