Arago: Handstamps


Bull's eye cancellation handstamp


Concentric-ring, wood cancellers such as this were fashioned between the 1870s and 1930s. Most were made by the Chambers shop at Lodge, Virginia. However, there is no manufacturer identification on this handstamp, so it is not possible to link it to a specific source or year of production.

Sometimes after the rings wore down, postal clerks or postmasters who were gifted at carving converted the handstamp to a 'fancy' canceller. 'Fancy' means that a design or lettering was created instead of the concentric rings.

'Bull's eye' handstamps saw a long period of use at very small offices, where deposited and received mail volumes were often low. A single postmark could be used for both out-bound and received mail. For the dispatched mail, the postmaster used the canceller to obliterate postage stamps after postmarking the mail piece. Although this created double-work, the incremental time impact was small, and it avoided the cost to the postmaster of a separate 'received' postmarker.

wood; metal
Height x Width x Depth: 4 3/4 x 1 1/4 x 1 1/4 in. (12.07 x 3.18 x 3.18 cm)
Museum ID:

  • Bull's eye cancellation
  • Bull's eye cancellation
  • Bull's eye cancellation
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  • Handstamp

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