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

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.)


Oh my God, the thread I opened is actually extremely popular! So many new replies, and I had to go through all of them! I’m replying only to a few of the posts, because I’d rather not make my post extremely long. But, rest assured, I’ve read everything you sent with utmost pleasure!

I love when people send pictures of your own travelled mail. It’s just nice to marvel at what it looks like after travelling for thousands of miles!

I can see that the “Thinking of You” cancellation has been sprayed on twice! It’s such an ugly postmark :rofl: I mean, the design isn’t bad; however, USPS should be aware of the fact that those machines can’t reproduce all the intricate details of the original design, and the result is always going to be a smudgy mess of ink!

Your knowledge is a gold mine for me! Thank you so much for solving this big mystery – I have to talk to more people who work in the postal system (wait, do you?)… I’m sure that I’d find an answer to many of my questions!

Come on! The rollover ones are so much nicer! At least they still feel like postmarks… The inkjet ones are just sad. Maybe I’m being a little bit too conservative here, but if I were to create a list of best postmarks, well, sprayed-on ones are going to be at the bottom of everything…

So, first of all, thank you sooo much for providing all these interesting pictures! It’s extremely interesting to see what the whole thing actually looks like. It’s similar in Italy, I guess. The last picture caught my attention: that’s actually a handstamp, right? However, it’s also a rollover one! The design is kinda smart… I’d love to see something like that in action!

How do you get to talk to such cool people? I also want to have postmark-related chats in real life! The stamp is made of metal, which is why it stood the test of time… Many rubber stamps will just disintegrate… Italian post offices have many of these rubber stamps which are used for registered mail. Let me just tell you that they’re often in terrible conditions and nothing can be read.

I really love Belarusian postmarks. They’re always super clear and nice to look at as well. I didn’t know that Belarus also stamped incoming mail! I always write a lot on my postcards, so there are no empty spaces… I’d really like to know what they look like once they’ve been stamped in the recipient’s country!

Yes! Smaller post offices also had these machines… Although I’d say that they’re not as complex as the ones in big sorting centres. Such “postmarking” machines have been around for a while actually – I saw them on old postcards from the 1950s! The picture below was taken from Google:

That stamp looks beautiful! I’ve never received something like that… I always get the other round ones (the green plant and the one with the moon). This one looks cool! And, by the way, your postcard even has the date on it! And the place where it was sorted. Where’s the cancellation then? I thought that cancellations are always sprayed on at the same time as place and date! You were extremely unlucky!

I sent out a few postcards from the town next to my dad’s village. It’s a very rural area (湖岭镇: from the name alone, you can tell that it’s a pretty anonymous place). There, they would postmark the stamps and then put the postmark on the front side of the card as well! For no apparent reason, actually. But it’s cool (and it made me erroneously assume it’s something that’s often done in China).

Why do Chinese post offices keep changing these details! They must’ve gone through at least 3 different “generations” of postmarks! I think there’s someone at China Post who is really indecisive…


I think this Postmark thread should have its own postmark topic ( where the part that says postcard chat and everything else is where the orange squares are) tee hee

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@shugal How likely are foreign stamps/postcards to be cancelled at a German Briefzentrum?

(I have a Dutch postcard (from Zwolle) cancelled at Briefzentrum 65.)

I thought those wavy lines came with the date and location. The golf stamp is so beautiful, I’ve received a few from that series.

It took a little time to decipher, but the hand cancel is from Santa Paula CA 93060

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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.