It is difficult to overstate the importance of Hawaiian philately amongst that rarefied group consisting of some of the world’s greatest stamp collectors. From when the first Missionaries arrived in 1820 to the establishment of the first postal service in 1850 there were no post offices on the Hawaiian Islands and mails had to be handed to shipping agents or ships captains for transmission to a suitable port, perhaps accompanied by payment not to simply cover the immediate carriage but also to pay for the postage charge where is was expected to enter the mails.The first stamps of Hawaii were the famous “Missionary” stamps issued on 1 October 1851, the 2c, 5c and 13c blue stamps joined by another 13c type in November 1852. These imperforate stamps are on incredibly thin wove paper, so thin in fact that your normal breath can easily move them in your tweezers! These stamps are so fragile that most of the surviving copies are on cover or attached to piece / on backing card, unprotected examples being quickly destroyed.
The rarest stamp of Hawaii is probably the only known unused example of the 1851 2c blue “Missionary” which is also amongst the approximately 10% of all 1851-52 stamps which have survived without faults. Many beautiful stamps followed and collectors can enjoy a wonderful array of stamps produced locally, such as the plain numeral “Inter Island” imperfs printed at the Commercial Advertiser Office in Honolulu, or the pictorials depicting Hawaiian royalty and symbols printed by the National & American Bank Note Companies of New York.
Postmarks are of considerable interest to Hawaiian philatelists, the rarest being manuscript cancels from tiny post offices, but as the 19th Century moved on a lot more complete covers and postal stationery post cards become available to postal history collectors. Most stamps from Hawaii are affordable and collectors can enjoy forming exceptional collections including complete sets, blocks & other multiples, overprint varieties plus much else including revenue stamps and postal stationery. For those wishing to collect stamps from this wonderful, magical & remote place we recommend the stamp listings in the Scott or Stanley Gibbons catalogues.
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