POSTMARKS and CANCELLATIONS across the globe! [NOT commemorative ones]

Example of a hand cancel. My friend wrote the Licking Missouri postmistress.


If the post officers do it correctly, hand-cancelled mail will not go through the cancellation machine. At the post office, they should have two different boxes for outgoing mail: one for mail that is stamped but not cancelled, and one for mail that is either cancelled or has meter stamps on it. Each of these yellow boxes has a space on the front where they can slip in a small piece of paper with a barcode on it, and they should have two different barcode slips in use, one coding for mail that still needs to be cancelled, one for mail not in need of cancellation. At the letter center, all boxes go on a conveyor belt, and based on the barcode slip they either first go to the cancellation machines and from there to the sorting machines, or they go directly to the sorting machines. So hand-cancelled items should not be machine-cancelled. Unfortunately mistakes happen at post offices, or they don’t want to use an additional box just for the few hand-cancelled cards, or, like in Frankfurt am Main, they are not allowed to use extra boxes for cancelled mail “to increase efficiency” (note that all “post offices” are in legal reality branch offices of the Postbank, a sep done many years ago to make German Post look more attractive to investors when it was brought to the stock market). So unfortunately it’s a bit of luck if your cancelled mail will go through as-is or be machne-cancelled again.

Yes, that’s the Großbrief cancellation, which is in use for 5-10 years. Those letters too irregular in shape for the inkjet cancellation will still get the old rollover cancellation (not much nicer…). I’ll provide pictures when I’m back home.

The new cancellation for regular mail looks exactly the same but has an advertising space or the wavy lines next to them, like the current cancellation. Your picture shows 2 cancellations (upside down), instead of the right one (in reality left if you rotate them to correct alignment) will be the advertisement/wavy lines. I’ll provide pictures when I’m back home. When the first tests were introduced, I asked why they werent using a nicer cancellation, like the Netherlands do, the answer was that the cancellation they chose ensures the stamps cannot be re-used. German Post no longer cares for stamp collectors, they fight illegal stamp reuse and forged stamps. I was told that these cost them millions of revenue each year.

These “Nachträglich entwertet” (afterwards invalidated) stamps are very rare. In most cases the uncancelled stamps are crossed out with ballpoint pens. :frowning_face: This stamp is supposed to also be used on uncalcelled foreign stamps, but that never happens.


You got unlucky with the cancellation, normally they are very clear! Sorry, I don’t have an example now but I fetch all incoming mail at work and the cancellation is very neat in most cases.

That depends. Some postal agencies have two boxes for outgoing mail. One for unstamped letters that will put into stamping machines. Another box for hand-stamped letters that do not run through the stamping machines, but are handed directly into the sorting machine.
Letters are not stamped in sorting machines, but in stamp machines. These are two different machines.
If a post agency puts hand cancelled letters into the box for uncancelled letters they will probably put into the stamping machine and will cancelled twice. I already got postcards where that happened.

Here you can see a stamping machine.

Letters and postcards are running high speed through the machine:

Here you can see the machine stamp. Do you see the blue light? It’s checking if there really is a valid stamp.

And that’s the result:

This is a sorting machine that has nothing to do with cancellation:

And this is how big letters’ stamps will be cancelled in sorting centres:


Here’s a mini stamping machine at work, cancelling a pile of :postcrossing:meetup postcards:


This is an interesting topic and I would like to give my contribution to understand how it works in Italy.
In Italy ordinary mail is mainly sorted out by CMP (Centro di Meccanizzazione Postale), automated sorting centers.
We have 22 automated sorting centers in the country. The green dots in the map.

I have just discovered there is also 1 manual sorting center, called CPO, but I never seen the postmark.
So if you drop your mail in the red mailbox, it will be postmarked like this:

Postmark is not 100% granted, very often they are delivered without any mark. Dont’ ask me why. :sweat_smile:

Hand cancellations are still available, but at the Philatelic Offices only.
In Italy we have 547 Philatelic Office, the complete list can be download here: (
The postmark availbale at the Philatelic Offices can be considered permanent postmarks.
At the moment the available imprint shows the map of Italy, the zip code and name (location of the office) and the data, plus the words FILATELIA and Poste Italiane.

This imprint with the map of Italy has been introduced this year, it is periodically updated.
Before it was like this:

The Philatelic Offices of the main towns like: Rome, Milano, Firenze, Genova, Torino, Napoli, Verona, Trieste have a different imprint showing a famous monument/landmark of the town, like in this one from Milan, which depicts the Duomo:

As you can notice in the photo, we see double postmark: the hand postmark of the philatelic office plus the machine one of the CMP. It can happen. I haven’t discovered yet why sometimes it happens, sometimes not, this is part of the big mystery! :smile:

The permenent postmarks available at the Philatelic Offices can be asked at the desk or material to be hand postmarked can be sumbitted by post, in the same way as for special postmarks (occasional postmarks available for limited time only).



Then I can call myself extremely lucky for having recieved a card with such a cancellation. Although it was “only” a card travelling within Germany.

Edit: I just found a postcard from Finland that got “Nachträglich entwertet”. So it really happens that foreign stamps are also treated with this special cancellation.


I like that the cancellations of the automated sorting centres in Italy :it: show the city’s name anyway! :+1:


I really like the current :uk: British and :ireland: Irish hand cancellation stamps. They have a nice frame, which I find very elegant.

I have noticed that there are still many very different hand cancellations stamps in the UK, some of them are very old which is fantastic.

In Durness, a store owner told me that he still uses his old postmark for his post office agency. The British Post Office has already offered him several times to give him a new postmark, but he still prefers to keep his old one. In this stamp, individual metallic numbers for the date will be plugged into the stamp.


More recently all my mail (from Germany) that is not cancelled receive these Nächträglich entwertet cancellations, looks as if I have a stamp loving person in charge :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

I found a hand cancelled example from the US (sent this year)


In Germany there is another speciality in addition to the normal hand cancellation stamps. There are still some packet ships that supply different islands and they have their own postmarks on board. These postmarks are titled “Deutsche Schiffspost” (German shipping mail) and include the shipping company and the the ship’s name.


If you like postmarks, postal labels and all the tiny signs of widely travelled mail you might be interested in the Travelling Envelope RR.
Your envelope travels across different countries and collects stamps, cancellations and charming little damages until it returns to you.


In my country we have both machine cancelation and cancellation by hand. For poscards cancellation by hand is more common.
We also have use an incoming mail postmarks. Postmarks are usually in Belarusian or Russian language. There were used postmarks in English earlier, but I don’t see it nowadays.

These are examples of outcoming and incoming postmarks:


Before each post office could postmark their outgoing mail with the postmark indicating the zip code and the name of the post office (location).
I am not sure when they stopped
I searched my collection and I found this card which is dated back the 90s , sent from Vulcano, a small island in front of Sicily.
The postmark looks like machine made, but here the origin of the card is clear.

If I get this card now, I guess it would be postmarked CMP Catania.


Yes, I think you are correct. All the cards I sent from various towns in Sardinia were postmarked CMP Cagliari, where the sorting centre is.

:rofl: In an incident of supreme irony, I sent a postcard to myself with the palest stamp I owned because I wanted to collect a clear cancel of the Energy Awareness Month obliteration.

The postcard returned with … sorting codes but NO CANCELLATION! Arrrrggggh!


Oh no very upsetting!:sweat_smile:

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Here are more incoming mail postmarks on international cards:
Most commonly, it is a handstamped postmark in black color. (This card is from Taiwan.)

It can also be a machine postmark in red color. According to the regulations of China Post, all postmarks should not be stamped on the picture side but machines have no idea which side is the picture side… (This card is from Germany.)

Sometimes, postmen make this mistake, too… (This card is from New Zealand)

One interesting fact is they changed the postmark earlier this year. The old version says [Post Office Name]投递 instead of [Post Office Name]营投. The two differ in wording but express the same type of service.


Oh, here is an even earlier incoming mail postmark (in 2017), which does not indicate the type of service:

So the lower word is simply the name of the post office in charge of its delivery, Nanmen 南门.


About the machines, honestly, I haven’t visited the delivery departments so I don’t know how the machines there are like. I think they are able to sort the mail based on address since there is a bar code on every Chinese domestic mail, like those bar codes on registered mails. The machine may be able to extract the addresses by simply scanning the bar code. However, I have used the meter stamp machine several times. They are actually very similar to the machines in @Speicher3 's video. It is imported from Switzerland or Germany, especially the multicolor ones, I guess. Here is a sample I get from the machine in Songling Post Office, Wujiang District, Suzhou. The picture on the left is printed by the multicolor machine.

(Meter stamps are rarely used in postcrossing because people typically can enjoy some discount if they purchase stamps but need to pay fully if they use a meter stamp machine. Also, nearly all regular post offices do not offer multicolor meter stamp machines so the meter stamps are generally less beautiful than ordinary stamps.)