No more hand cancellation?

Belgian mailman here, i haven’t even asked for a handcancellation at my own postoffice where I know all clercks.
They treat all these, for us, valuable additions to the service as a relic of the past since everything is automated now and they are encouraged to promote practicality.
And much depends on the clercks attitude to customer service, knowledge of the postal system, their mood, empathic skills and what you want but not in that specific order :grin: :rofl:

Also, traditional mail is declining VERY fast. It reduced by 60-70% last 5 years.
Packages are now core business for most postal services and mail becomes the side business, a niche market .
I like to compare it with pens. When fountain pens were invented they became the standard and the cheapest option/solution for writing very fast. After ballpoint pens, they became kind of obsolete, also very fast but didn’t disappear.
But they are way more expensive now then ballpoint pens and a niche market.
The look i get now when i use a fountain pen in public,is the look i get when sending traditional mail for fun or asking for cancelations and so on.

I hope this makes sense because, even as a mailman it’s hard to catch up with all changes.
And there are so many technical details and rules, they can contradict each other
There is a saying under the posties here:
Where logic stops, the postal system starts.


We have the same problem in France and Germany where automated services brought the end of good handcancellation on nice stamps. Quality, beauty and respect aren’t so important as benefits and all of us have to appreciate the same ugly results.
Maybe there will be a solution: when philatelists as a relic of the past themselves stop collecting. Or how could it make sense to continue a collection of ugly pieces of paper?
The best customers for the postal services are collectors of mint stamps: lots of more or less lovely and expensive motives that don’t cost much in printing and not even a cent for delivery…


The worst response I have gotten from a postal worker was that hand cancellation was “illegal” :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


I have asked for hand cancellation once, when someone asked for it in a private swap. The clerk seemed happy to do so in our small town, quiet post office. Typically I mail from the box outside because I cannot generally make the usual open hours.


i have a number of relatives that work for the usps, they are not to happy when dejoy took over as postmaster general. cutting overtime and demanding more work from them, many are not happy. so, they are just following the rules put in place.
there are 2 hand cancel marks (i am sure that is the wrong word), black and red. the black (also brown and blue color) is used to canceling postage at the counter and the red (even seen pink and orange color) cancel mark is used only for official post office business. i am so lucky where i live, the post offices are not busy and have no problem hand canceling items for me. best when searching for a hand cancel mark, choose a smaller less used post office and make friends. from that point, start requesting stamps you want to use - if you go there often, this service will be provide too. good luck!


Maybe it’s changed now, but for airline security reasons (after the incidents involving the Unabomber) any first class stamped mail that was over thirteen ounces and was placed in a post office mail collection tank would be returned to the sender. It was required that such mail had to be given to a post office window clerk, where he or she would hand cancel the item. (Presumably so that if the item contained dangerous material, such as explosives, it could be traced back to the sender). I find it hard to believe that some post offices don’t offer hand cancellations. Also, post office window clerks regularly use cancellers/round daters on items such as customers’ receipts for certified mail.


Last time I went to the post office, the clerk initially refused to hand-cancel my mail and told me that a machine does it at the sorting centre. Thankfully, after explaining to her that it was philatelic mail and that often the machine does not cancel the stamps, she agreed to do it. I really hope this does not become an issue in the future…


I was a postal clerk for nearly 14 years and hand cancelling was the EASIEST job I ever did so I didn’t mind. So unless there is now a rule that it is forbidden to do it, I just don’t get it. My reasoning is that if a customer is willing to trouble themselves to go to the post office and queue up, they deserve my attention too. And at least the stamps are cancelled. The machines miss all too often while USPS cries about lost revenue. I have seen people try to reuse the “skips” way too often.


Here in Italy we don’t have cancellations at the small towns (we used to have) now all the letters and postcards go to the main office of the region (usually the region’s capital) and they may be stamped there. I say “may” as I noticed many just don’t go through the machine and people receive the mail with no cancellation at all…
To give a concrete example: I live in Reggio Emilia, between the towns of Parma and Modena. It does not matter in which town I mail my card, they’ll all go to Bologna and be stamped there.

Majority of postcards and letters I received from within Australia are cancelled by someone scribbling a pen over the stamp :cry: - I love receiving postcards and letters from other countries whether they are hand or machine cancelled. It is a real shame more and more places aren’t doing hand cancellations. I wonder if that is because sending postcards isn’t as frequent as it used to be?

In Italy, mail franked with stamps is canceled with mechanical cancellation at the CMP (Postal Mechanization Centre): Ancona, Bari, Bologna, Brescia, Cagliari Elmas, Catania, Florence, Genoa, Lamezia Terme, Milan Peschiera Borromeo, Milan Roserio , Naples, Novara, Padua, Palermo, Rome Fiumicino, Turin, Venice, Verona.
However, it is possible to request a hand cancel at post offices with philatelic counters, or at Filately Spaces (post offices exclusively for the sale of stamps and philatelic products). Both come with their own postmark. Otherwise, in addition to the case of special postmarks (commemoratives for temporary philatelic services or for the first day of issue of stamps) it is possible to ask at the counter of any post office if they can cancel the stamps with their ordinary Guller postmark. Typically, most post offices are no longer willing to use this stamp to cancel stamps, but some still do.

From personal experience, by asking for a hand cancellation, I also obtained it in Switzerland, at the Geneva office of the United Nations Postal Administration, at the post office of the Poste Magistrali (postal operator of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta) and in Vatican. Finally, if I remember correctly, it was also possible to ask for a hand cancellation at the “Philaposta” inside Budapest 4 Post Office.


I get this from the A.R. returned from the USA.

I guess this is a hand cancel?
While another one is by machine


I guess I feel lucky living in Japan. Despite it’s reputation for producing high-tech items, it is still very much rooted in the past. Most offices and households still have fax machines, Tower Records is still thriving here (with CDs and records), and hand-stamping documents with a personal seal is an everyday part of life here, whether it be in the workplace or ‘signing’ for a delivery at home. So most post offices will hand cancel any and everything you give them, and will do it without any annoyance or rush, no matter how big the line is behind you. In many cases I think they enjoy pulling out the big stamp and ink pad to do so, as it is different to most everything they do all day.

Here’s a small collection of cancels I’ve gotten - some on plain paper, some on Gotochi cards (or mini Gotochi cards). I also have a small book where I can collect scenic cancels - the only cost to me is the cost of the stamp (63 yen minimum). My very local post office doesn’t do it since they don’t have these types of cancels, but if I’m in a place that does I’ll try to get it done for postcards I sent to other postcrossers. You’ll notice that they try very hard to cancel as little of the stamp as possible, and will apologise if they overdo it or if the cancel is not straight.

Note: if sending in Japan this cancel can work on it’s own, but for international mail an additional black cancel will be used (uses international standards for dates and words).


Read above the USPS regulations about PHILATELIC HAND-BACK abd PHILATELIC MAIL-BACK.

I showed that to a post office in Virginia Beach, and I persuaded them, EVENTUALLY…


You would think it would be the opposite. With less people sending postcards (or any personal mail), logically it would be easier than ever to give a hand cancellation.


When you use the plastic sleeve, do you put the sleeve on the card after they hand cancel it?
Where do you get your sleeves from?

Before it closed, the Post Office in Culver City would not hand cancel, also alleging you had to use Registered Mail to get a hand cancel. I never have trouble at any of the smaller post offices up and down the Owens Valley.


I’m in Louisiana & when I went to mail a few cards last week, the clerk offered to hand cancel. I have ADHD & processing issues that go along with it. I JUST realized what she meant by that. Somehow, I had forgotten about it. So, yes, it’s still done in some places in the US.


No, we do not have that problem in Germany, for the machine cancellation here is usually neater than any hand cancellation.

I have a PO Box and have to pick up packages or buy stamps quite often, so my post office knows me pretty well. Depending on the day of the week, I’m either, “Postcard Lady” or “Box ###.” Since post offices in the US are more likely to be closed if they sell fewer stamps or handle fewer pieces of mail, I always hand my mail to the clerks at the counter.

My post office clerks are so used to me buying strange values of stamps for postcards for Postcrossing that if I give them my postcards, they put them to the side and hand cancel the international ones when they don’t have a line.