H is for Handstamp

drawing of a hand making the letter 'H' in sign language
Handstamp Cinderella Stamp

Any postal marking stamped by hand, whether as a cancellation, routing mark, or other processing notice — such as "Returned to Sender" and "Postage Due." Various handstamps appeared frequently on mail a hundred years ago, and postal historians delight in the stories they tell. Handstamps are less common today, replaced in many instances by labels or automated printing.

Express from Richmond to Louisville posted to Boston cover
Confederate express envelope

Multiple handstamps document this letter's progress. The Adams Express Company transmitted the letter from Richmond, Virginia, to Louisville, Kentucky, where it entered the U.S. postal system. United States, 1861.