Skull and crossbones handstamp
The "skull and crossbones" handstamp was crafted by a postmaster or postal clerk and used to cancel postage stamps. Although commercially-made handstamps were available —either supplied by the Post Office Department or ordered by a postmaster from a supply house— many mid-19th century cancelling handstamps were hand-crafted by an artistic postal employee. Often, the printing surface was carved from wood, but other materials, such as cork, rubber, or metal (often lead), were used. Generally, the softer the media that was worked, the more limited life of the marking device. The survival rate of artifacts such as this are correspondingly low. Meanwhile, the imprints they left behind are often sought after by postal history collectors.