Arago: Handstamps


USS Oklahoma duplex handstamp


This partial rubber handstamp was salvaged from the USS Oklahoma following the attack on Pearl Harbor. The date in the handstamp is “Dec 6 1941.” On Saturday, December 6, the shipboard post office was open for business. On Sunday, December 7, the battleship Oklahoma was one of the prime targets of the attack.

The U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, a major U.S. naval base located on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, was attacked early in the morning of December 7, 1941, by a combined force of Japanese submarines and airplanes. The Imperial Japanese Navy launched two attacks. At 6 a.m. that morning, 183 warplanes left the decks of six Imperial Japanese aircraft carriers, headed for Hawaii. An hour later, they were followed by a second group of 171 fighters, bombers and torpedo airplanes.

The attack lasted only a few hours, but U.S. loses were staggering. Eight U.S. battleships and ten other naval vessels were sunk or severely damaged during the attack in which 2,107 U.S. navel and military personnel were killed. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared that December 7, 1941, would "live in infamy." It marked the entrance of the United States into World War II. Congress declared war against Japan on December 8, 1941.

The USS Oklahoma was one of eight battleships at 'Battleship Row' that morning. The ship was struck during the first phase of the attack, first by three torpedoes and immediately thereafter by two more as the ship heeled to port. Only minutes after being hit, the ship slowly rolled over until the mast jammed in the mud, leaving the ship upside down. One third of the ship's crew were killed, and 935 sailors survived. Thirty-two men, trapped inside the ship for three days, guided a rescue team to their location by tapping on the hull. The ship was eventually righted, and on September 1, 1944, it was decommissioned. Two years later, after having been sold for scrap, the Oklahoma sank in heavy seas while being towed to the mainland.

Because the attack on Pearl Harbor came early on Sunday morning, the handstamp still carried the previous day's date, Dec. 6, 1941.

December 6, 1941
literal: DEC / 6 / PM / 1941
wood; rubber
Height x Width x Depth (wooden handle): 1 1/2 x 2 9/16 x 3 3/4 in. (3.8 x 6.5 x 9.5 cm) Height x Width x Depth (rubber stamp): 1 3/8 x 2 3/4 x 1/2 in. (3.5 x 7 x 1.3 cm) Height x Width x Depth (mounted on bracket): 7 5/16 x 2 3/4 x 5 1/2 in. (18.5 x 7 x 14 cm)
Museum ID:

  • USS Oklahoma duplex handstamp
  • USS Oklahoma duplex handstamp, reverse
  • USS Oklahoma duplex handstamp
  • USS Oklahoma duplex handstamp
Additional Records

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