Officially Sealed

Mails of the World

-   A site dedicated to the study of Post Office Seals   -

Cuba's 1st official seal, issued 1902
Country:

Aden
Algeria
Argentina
Australia
Austria
Bahamas
Bangladesh
Belgium
Brazil
British Guiana
Canada
Canal Zone
Cape of Good Hope
Ceylon
Chile
China, Imperial
China, Republic of
China, People's Republic of
Colombia
Congo
Costa Rica
Cuba
Cyprus
Czechoslovakia
Denmark
Egypt -
  - Interpostal Seals
  - Regular Issues
Eritrea
Estonia
Faroe Islands
Fiji
Finland
France
Germany
Gibraltar
Great Britain
Greece
Grenada
Guatemala
Heligoland
Hong Kong
Hungary
India
Iran -
  - Interpostal Seals
  - Regular Issues
Iraq
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Jamaica
Japan
Jordan
Kenya, Uganda, & Tanganyika
Korea
Kuwait
Lebanon
Lesotho
Libya
Luxembourg
Macau
Federated Malay States
Malaya
Malaysia
Malta
Mauritius
Mexico
Mongolia
Mozambique Company
Natal
Netherlands
Netherlands Antilles
Newfoundland
New South Wales
New Zealand
Nigeria
Norway
Oman
Orange River Colony
Palestine
Papua New Guinea
Peru
Philippines
Portugal
Romania
Ryukyu Islands
Saint Helena
Saint Kitts and Nevis
El Salvador
Saudi Arabia
Sierra Leone
Somalia
South Africa
South African Republic (ZAR)
Southern Rhodesia
Straits Settlements
Sudan -
  - Regular Issues
  - Security Seals
Sweden
Switzerland
Taiwan (Republic of China)
Thailand
Tonga
Transvaal
Trinidad & Tobago
Tunisia
United Arab Emirates
United States -
  - Registry Seals
  - Stamp Agency Seals
  - Dead Letter Office Seals
  - Regular Issues
  - Typeset Seals
  - Informational Labels
  - "Unofficial" Seals
Uruguay
Victoria
Vietnam
Western Australia
Yemen
Yugoslavia
Zambia
Zanzibar
Zimbabwe


References

Post office seals, or official seals, are labels used by postal authorities to repair or reclose mail items

  • Damaged in transit
  • Received unsealed at the post office
  • Opened by mistake or by the Dead Letter Office

The earliest recorded on-cover use of an official seal was in Italy in 1864. Many other countries produced their own during the following decade. The United States issued its first post office seal, for use by the Dead Letter Office, in 1877.

Official seals have been recorded from more than 185 countries. Seal dimensions range from barely an inch in width on a few Danish examples, to some of New Zealand that are more than five inches wide. Designs vary greatly and include elaborate, beautifully engraved Queen Victoria and King Edward VII portrait seals of Canada and Newfoundland to relatively simple typeset seals from Mexico or Egypt.

A few countries, such as Haiti and Sierra Leone, have issued just one official seal, while the People's Republic of China has released at least 110 different seals (and counting)! Peru has over 60 recorded types, only a handful of which have been actually seen on cover.

Some seals are scarce, especially from remote or "exotic" places such as Fiji, Yemen, or Zanzibar. Because official seals were most commonly used to repair damaged envelopes or cards, most mail items bearing them were discarded by the recipient due to their condition and have therefore been lost forever to collectors.

Few countries continue to use post office seals today. Most postal authorities now use tapes rather than labels for repair, or they enclose badly damaged items in plastic bags. The era of government issued seals appears to be ending.

To explore examples of the wide range of officially sealed mails of the world, click on the Country (or section) of your choice in the menu on the left side of this page. Categorization is by the country of seal origin. Issue dates and earliest known usage (EKU) are also listed where possible.

Unless otherwise specified, all reference numbers shown on this site are from Jim Drummond's Official Seals of the World Catalog, 2007 1st edition.




Important reference for collectors of Chinese seals

A Priced Catalog of Chinese Official Seals
by Jim Kotanchik

  • Sturdy and durable spiral binding.
  • 70+ pages with over 300 full color images.
  • Contents Include: Imperial Post, Republic Period, PRC Transitional Issues, PRC National and Regional Issues, PRC Fancy Border, PRC "Cloud" Border, Incoming Mail Seals, Bilingual Xinjiang.
  • Values for Seals, Covers, and Panes.
  • Full Introduction to Chinese Seals.

Available from The China Stamp Society for US$34.95 plus $2.45 postage (US$27.95 for China Stamp Society members + $2.45 postage) to US addresses.

Follow the "Books & DVDs For Sale" link at The China Stamp Society, Inc.





Another essential book for US Seal collectors

Post Office Seals of the United States and Possessions
by Jim Kotanchik

  • Hard bound with dust jacket, 8½" x 11" format.
  • Over 350 pages with 630 color images.
  • Covers all of the Scott-listed seals in great depth with new information on printing data and dates of use.
  • Exhaustive treatment of the typeset seals including probable issue dates and identification of some of the printers.
  • Presents Proofs, Trial Color Proofs, Essays, and Specimens not previously documented.
  • Broad coverage of DLO seals, Carrier Labels, Postage Stamp Agency Seals, Sea Post Seals, Modern US Seals, and the US Possessions including the Ryukyu Islands Seals.
  • Includes valuation guide for every known variety.
  • Winner of "Grand and Gold" award for literature at APS StampShow 2006 in Chicago.

Still available available from your favorite philatelic literature dealer.




Thank you to all who have kindly allowed their material to be shown here. Comments, corrections, additional information, new discoveries, and inquiries are always welcome. Please contact the author of this site, Todd A. Hirn.

Have any officially sealed items available for sale or trade? Especially needed are seals from Peru, Japan, Ryukyu Islands, and the Middle East.



 

-   Buying, Selling, & Trading Officially Sealed Mails of the World   -

© All content Copyright 2002-2014
by T. Hirn. All rights reserved.
E-mail:thirn@poseal.com

Updated November 27, 2014