paquebot stamp   Maritime Topics On Stamps :

Paquebot Cancellation!
Paquebot cancellation,
port of Yokohama, 1943

If you are aboard a ship on the open sea, the deck you are standing on is the territory of the country under which flag the ship sails. This means, if you write a letter on a ship in international waters, you are able to use the stamps of the country of the ship. Additionally the officer can hand over the mail to the local post office at any port anywhere in the world and the mail will be delivered without additional charge. paquebot letter
To mark such a special letter as such, Paquebot cancellations are used.
> paquebot letter
The use of an official mark to denote mail posted at sea was regulated by international agreements at various meetings of the UPU, the Universal Postal Union. The first regulations were drawn up in 1891. The word 'Paquebot' was introduced in 1897 for the very first time.
The clause reads: "The post office which receives correspondence posted on board, provides same with the common datestamp, adding handwritten or by a stamp the word 'Paquebot'."
The word 'Paquebot' was choosen for international use because French was and is up to today the official language used at UPU congress meetings. This special arrangement applies for mail posted at the first port of call in each country being visited. But if the mailing on board occurs during the stay at a port or the ship sails to subsequent ports of that country the letters must be franked with stamps of that country.
paquebot letter
This letter was posted on sea aboard the cruiser liner 'World Renaissance'. The vessel runs under the Greek Flag, the owner is the company 'Epirotiki Lines'. So the letter was franked by Greek stamps. First port in Italy were Genova. So the stamps were cancelled by a Genova datestamp. In addition the paquebot-stamp to mark this letter 'posted at high-seas' and that he doesn't need no further charge.

paquebot letter Paquebot Cancellation came into use 1894. The real Paquebot era happened in the first half of the twentieth century. With the growing popularity of air mail and air travel the ship mail slowly declined. But up to today collecting paquebot covers are a fascinated discipline or a handsome addition to any stamp collection. Every cover is a documentation about ship voyages and routes with an exact date. And with the ships type we know something about the cargo and / or passengers shipping to the named port as well as sea business.

Paquebot marks came in a great variety of forms. The handstamp could be boxed ('Prinsessan Brigitta' letter above), unboxed ('World Renaissance') or half boxed (see further down). Sometimes he is integrated in the datestamp ('Mülheim' letter). Sometimes the text 'Paquebot' is handwritten. paquebot stamp
Sometimes 'Paquebot' is marked in two languages (Yokohama mark above). And sometimes the mark is included by 'thumbnails', see right.

paquebot stamp The UPU rules doesnt say how to write or mark the word 'Paquebot'. So each port office is free in his presentation. So some ports take the word 'Navire', seen here in the datestamp of Helsinki. And we see a funny illustration in the mark of the port of Osaka, down.
paquebot stamp

Mr. M. A. Studd, author of the book 'Paquebot and Ship Letter Cancellations of the world' divided the cancellations into three major groups:
  • Single word 'Paquebot' cancellations struck separately, including their equivalents.
  • 'Paquebot' cancellations incorporating the word 'Paquebot' with the name of the port in the same marking, or duplex to it.
  • 'Ship Letter' or 'Packet Letter' types which were either continued in use, or which were first put into use after 1893.

paquebot stamp

paquebot stamp

paquebot stamp

Here we can see three other forms of paquebot marking. 'LOOSE SHIP LETTER' was marked at Melbourne from 1894 to 1930. 'PAQUETE = BOTE' was marked at port Davao, St. Cruz Isles in 1929. 'PACKET-BOAT originated at Honolulu in 1903.
We find 'Posted on Steamer', 'Ship Letter', 'Packet-Letter', 'Piroscafo', 'Paqu', 'Parquet', 'Ship Mail', 'Vapor', 'Paquebot ou Navire', 'Paq.', 'Steamboat', 'Fra Skib', 'Skibsbrjef', 'Schiffsbrief', 'Paquete', etc. etc....

At the port of Charleston the post authorities write the word 'Paquebot' with an additional 'c', 'Pacquebot'. paquebot stamp

paquebot letter This is the first 'Queen Elizabeth' with a paquebot mark in the datestamp of the port of Gibraltar. Gibraltar officially belongs to the United Kingdom, but has his own post authority. There have been long arguments if this paquebot mark is actually correct or not.

paquebot stamp
Paquebot cancellation, port of Hamburg, 1896.

Have a look to our 'Maritime Cancellations ' Page.

© 1998 - 2003 Bjoern Moritz, all rights reserved.

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