Arago: Handstamps


Auxiliary handstamp, UNKNOWN


Postal clerks use 'Pointing Hand' rubber stamps to endorse a mail piece returned to the sender. These auxiliary stamps explain why the item could not be delivered. This stamp's marking "UNKNOWN" indicates that an addressee was not at the address provided on a mail piece.

This style of marking device is typical of those used for this purpose between the 1930s and today. They are less common when a specific ZIP Code appears in the text.

This object is very similar to another handstamp in the collection (object number 2002.2002.4). The two objects only differ in the font size of the "UNKNOWN" marking. This difference would not affect its use. It could be of interest to a postal historian authenticating covers to distinguish between this marking device and others.

The ZIP Code on this artifact, 10048, is no longer in use. It corresponds to the World Trade Center (WTC), and that ZIP code was destroyed by the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. This handstamp was collected from the WTC mail sorting station on the fourth floor of the Church Street Station Post Office, New York City. The stamp was last used on September 11, 2001.

September 11, 2001
RETURNED / TO / SENDER (inside a figurative hand) UKNOWN / NEW YORK, NY 10048 (large type)
wood; ink; rubber
2.75 x 1.75 x 1.62 in (7 x 4.4 x 4.1 cm)
Museum ID:
New York

  • Auxiliary Handstamp
  • Auxiliary Handstamp
  • Auxiliary Handstamp mark
Additional Records
  • Auxiliary handstamp, PAID
  • Auxiliary handstamp, PAID
  • Auxiliary handstamp, PASSED BY NAVAL CENSOR
  • Auxiliary handstamp, POSTAGE DUE
  • Auxiliary handstamp, PRIORITY MAIL
  • Auxiliary handstamp, REFUSED
  • Auxiliary handstamp, SPECIAL DELIVERY
  • Auxiliary handstamp, TO AVOID DELAY IN DELIVERY OF YOUR MAIL...
  • Auxiliary handstamp, UNDELIVERABLE AS ADDRESSED
  • Auxiliary handstamp, UNKNOWN
  • Auxiliary handstamp, UNKNOWN
  • Branford, Connecticut, pictorial postmark handstamp

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