Arago: Handstamps


Auxiliary handstamp, REFUSED


Postal clerks use 'Pointing Hand' rubber stamps to endorse a mail piece returned to the sender. The auxiliary stamps explain why the item could not be delivered. This particular rubber stamp marks a letter or package "refused," indicating that an addressee would not accept the mail piece.

This auxiliary marking is most often used when rejecting certified or registered mail that requires a signature. This style of marking device is typical of those used between the 1930s and today. They are less common when a specific ZIP Code appears in the text.

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) REFUSED / NEW YORK, NY 10048 NEW YORK / REFUSED / NY 10048 (written on sticker on body of stamp)
wood; ink; rubber
2.75 x 1.75 x 1.5 in (7 x 4.4 x 3.8 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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