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

Your card has been cancelled. “Seattle WA 980” in the upper area is part of the cancellation. Either there was a mistake and the advertisement area was accidentally switched off in the machine software, or a second piece of mail got in the way and “stole” the energy awareness month part of the cancellation. I’ve seen that happen sometimes in Germany as well.

Ask your questions (in a private message, then best in German, if they don’t fit to this topic), and I’ll try to answer if I have the knowledge. I workin pharmaceutical research (new medication development), but I’m an avid philatelist specialized on postal automation, so I pick up some stuff from discussing issues and new developments with postal officials and other collectors.

Yes, that’s a rolling hand stamp (good for an infinite cancellation). The German worrd for it conveys that nicely: Handrollstempel (we Germans like long words :grinning:)

We have that issue in Germany as well with commemorative cancellations. When the new philatelic counters were opened in 27 largeer cites across Germany (I think in the late 1990s), each got a rectangular special cancellation with a landmark from the city. Deutsche Post is too grasping to replace them, and they’re almost unusable now (you might be lucky with a thin empty envelope - on postcards you only get the outside rectangle).

Mechanical cancelling machines have been used at least as far back as the 1890s in (then imperial) Germany, and in the USA at least in the 1900s or 1910s. In these times, large cities had up to 4 post deliveries to your mailbox daily, making mail similar in use as the SMS was on early mobile phones.

It’s not necessarily indicisiveness, it might also be process improvement, or every time a new person gets in charge of postmarks, she/he wants to make a change to leave a footprint (just like I’ve seen it in so many other companies).

Foreign stamps should not be cancelled in German Briefzentrums. As the Netherlands use a different type of fluorescent paper, the cancelling machine should note there’s no valid stamp and put it into the error box, but I have the impression that this control mechanism is often switched off, so the clerks have less work with the mail the machne thinks may be wrong…

There are three possibilities how a Dutch stamp got into a German cancellation machine:

  1. The Dutch card was put into a German postbox
  2. Incoming mail was accidentally put into the cancellation machine (I have Germany-internal mail cancelled in both the sending and receiving Briefzentrum, so this type of mistake does sometimes happen)
  3. Netherlands Post cooperates with private postal services companies in Germany for mail delivery (I have received some Dutch mail with MailWorX sorting barcodes and other with regular German Post sorting barcodes). Mail to places these cooperation partners don’t cover, or is too expensive to send someone to, are handed over to German Post at a discounted price and go through the full mail cancellation and sorting process in the Briefzentrum. Normally the private mail franking is labelled over with a German Post meter stamp, but since it was a Dutch card, this may not have been done.

Before replying to @shugal’s post, I’ll just show you the postmarks on two of the cards I sent from Turkmenistan, a country I visited back in December 2019. There aren’t many photos and scans of Turkmen postmarks online, so please enjoy :wink:

The majority of the cards, as can be seen from the Turkmenistan page on Postcrossing, are sent from the capital city, Ashgabat; however, I sent these two from Mary! And the postmarks look different as well. If you look at a more “mainstream” postcard, like the one I’m attaching below, a cancellation from Ashgabat is completely blue, whereas this one from Mary is both blue and red. Whenever I go to a new country, I try not to send stuff from the capital city… I prefer something more off the radar!

Oh, if I have any doubts, I’ll send them to you in private! And I’ll also get to practice some German, which is not my first language. However, if these queries of mine are related to postmarks, I’ll post them here, so that future internet dwellers with the same interests can also indulge in all these interesting bits of knowledge.

Wait, philatelic counters have these landmark cancellations? I didn’t know that! And, besides, coming from Italy, where Philatelieshops are grand, imposing and full of interesting stuff, I was really surprised to see that the one in Berlin (listed here) is actually very small… I go there very often, but I don’t recall seeing such a postmark.

(I might have praised the Italian philatelic shops; however, this is the only compliment I’m ever going to give to the Italian postal system… Everything else makes it so much inferior to its German counterpart: the delivery times and, especially, the design of postage stamps!)


Thanks a lot for the Turkmenish cancellations, @ChristianJ! If you are more comfortable in English, messages in English are fine, of course.

This is the best cancellation I was ever able to get from the Frankfurt landmark cancellation (the motif is supposed to be Hauptwache and spire of Katharinenkirche). When I was in Köln (Cologne) the same year, the philetelic clerk refused to cancel anything with the landmark stamp and proved it was really unreadable by doing a sample stamping (which unfortunately she refused to give to me). So it’s possible that these stamps have been removed or are hidden in the closet. Ask the clerk in Berlin when you visit again, I’m curious what the response is.

That’s why I intentionally call it philatelic counter, not shop. I’ve seen much better philatelic shops, for example in Prague and Zagreb. The philatelic counter in Frankfurt am Main is perched in a corner of the post office.


Not the Messeturm? Up to now I have thought it shows the Messeturm.

Could theoretically be Messeturm, but that wouldn’t make any sense, as Messeturm is far away from Hauptwache, while Katharinenkirche is directly next to it, and when you look at Hauptwache from the side pictured in the stamp the spire is exactly in the place where it is on the cancellation. Sorry, couldn’t find a picture of exactly that perspective.

Not my country; but I got hand cancellation (I think) from Tasmania, Australia. I don’t know how much is it rare, as I never cared too much about them.

Maybe someone else can tell me?

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This is a typical Australian hand cancel, applied by a post office in the Hobart area. Being only a partial impression the post office name is missing.

Here are a few cancellations from Thailand (All of these are mine)

Machine-cancelled card from my nearest post office’s branch (Min Buri)

Machine-cancelled postcard from Ratchadamneon branch

My sloppy attempt at hand-cancelling a card (asked for the stamp from the postal souvenirs counter)


Here are some more hand-cancelled stamps for you to look at! I think we should rename this topic to “Your favourite postmarks” instead of “Your country’s postmarks”, so that we can all share what we receive! What do you think?

This is actually my first card from Ukraine! And I’m really happy about it. It looks so neat!

I did! But now, thinking back, I’m sooo disappointed! She took out the stamp and made two attempts (she said that you can see the Fernsehturm, but tbh the central part of the cancellation was completely unintelligible!). I should’ve taken a picture!! But, at the time, I was too scared to ask: the woman at the counter sees me so often and I feel like she doesn’t really like me aha! Or maybe it’s just her smileless approach that intimidates me.

The one in Berlin too! It’s laughably small… German stamps are beautiful, so I wonder why it doesn’t have this “institutionalised” philatelic culture. Italy, with its ugly af stamps (I’ll keep repeating it ad nauseam haha) has a way more important “philatelic offices”. Look at the one in Turin:

Wow! I’ve never received machine-cancelled mail from Thailand. It’s always handstamps (and highly illegible ones as well… the one in your last picture is probably the best I’ve seen!).

EDIT: Everyone, check my first post! I added a little index, so that no cancellation gets lost!


It’s very likely that only domestic mail goes through machines. International mail is handled manually all the way.

I’m in favor! I haven’t added anything else because everyone else was talking knowledgeably about their own country’s cancellations (which I have learned a lot from), and I’m just a :clown_face: who likes to look at them but doesn’t know anything about anything. :rofl:

I’m definitely in favor, too. How about “Postmarks and cancellations across the globe [NOT commemorative ones]”? That opens it up to everyone who has a cancellation to share.

I love your index! Thank you very much, it’s a great idea!


Here is a Portuguese hand cancellation. The stamps seems to be a bit damaged, I have it with several dates, all show the slight sents in the outer circle. The number at the bottom is the first part of the 4+3 Portuguese postal code, the date follows the ISO format: 2020 10 13 is 13-Oct-2020.


Here’s some rare country cancellations I’ve received:

San Marino





And then a pretty one I received recently from Japan


Yeaaahh!! I was waiting for your posts… If I’m not mistaken, you’ve only sent the countries starting with the letters A and B, right? I kept waiting for more pictures from you, but you never sent them :sweat_smile: I’m not knowledgeable either, I just find looking at them to be super satisfying.

Yeah, Portugal is one of the few Western European nations that still issue handstamps. It’s visibly damaged actually, but at least the text is very legible. I didn’t know that the “Asian” way of writing dates could be found on European stamps too! But, as you wrote, it’s the official ISO format. We had it right the whole time then :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Oh my God, thank you so much for your valuable contribution! I love the colours in the Iraqi postmarks (there are two black ones and a coloured one, plus two square stamps! omg!! could you pleeease upload HD images of all those postmarks? I’ll then manage to find an Arabic speaker who can translate everything… I’m just too curious to see where this card has been… I’ve never seen this many stamps on the same postcard!)

Regarding the Japanese postmarks, can anyone tell us whether they are commemorative or not? The flower-shaped one clearly is, but what about the round one? It still doesn’t look like the ordinary cancellation stamps from the country.


Well, I kind of looked through A and B and then haphazardly at a couple from China. :slight_smile: But I went back and looked a bit more, these are some I found that looked interesting so far.

Canada - not a lot of them get cancelled. (I also don’t have any scratched through with a pen although I know that seems to be common.)

Clear one from Switzerland, kind of perfectly placed!

And another one from Switzerland, light but I liked the two-part design


Yes, but I’ll need a few days. :wink:

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The first time I saw the ISO date format on postal cancellations, it was in Scandinavia (Sweden I think). I checked, Sweden and Lithuania use ISO format, Norway, Finland and Latvia not (sorry, I don’t have Danish and Estonian cancellations handy). I also have a cancellation from Namibia (previously South-West Africa) with ISO date. I need to find time to make more scans…

The ISO format has the benefit that dates noted in it automatically sort in the correct order on computers. That was the reason for making this format the ISO standard.

Older German machine cancellation preceding the instroduction of Briefzentrum (in the 1990s). It basically looks the same, but instead of Briefzentrum it shows the town name in the top and the postal code in the bottom, exactly the same as in the hand cancellations from post offices.


I got a wonderful Octoberfest cancellation from last year!


Oh sorry, it is commemorative, right? Should I delete it?