Mackerel Corner, NH, postmark handstamp
This postmarker has a hardwood handle and a boxwood head. The head slips onto a peg protruding from the bottom of the handle, and the two meet at the lip around the handle base. Careful study of the photo reveals the different coloration and grain of the head and handle. This device is circa 1840s-1850s.
The 1857 Postal Laws and Regulations, sec. 352, provided: "Post offices, the gross receipts of which are over $1,000 per annum, will be furnished with circular marking and rating stamps of steel; less than $1,000 and over $500, with stamps of iron; less than $500 and over $100, with stamps of wood." Postmasters at offices with less that $100 per year in revenue were required to purchase postmarking, cancellation, and auxiliary marking devices at their own expense. They frequently turned to low-cost wood or rubber marking devices, postmarked mail using pen-and-ink manuscript, or utilized other devices such as 'linen markers' for postmarking mail.