Notes from the Past

"Cavite, Hawaii"

In these days of Naval and Military maneuvers, fleet movements, etc., many curious postal items come to light, yet I suppose one should become accustomed to encountering the unusual.

Cavite has always been situated in the Philippine Islands, located on Manila Bay, and close by the teeming city of Manila.  But even for postal purposes it does seem startling to see a U. S. stamp bearing a postmark that might indicate that Cavite had pulled up anchor and moved off for the Hawaiian Islands, nevertheless I am now squinting over a cover with just such a postmark.

In the Philippine Islands, as all studious philatelists are aware, only Philippine stamps are in use for postage, but the U. S. Navy operates in and out of the Islands (for which "Casey" Quezon is duly grateful) and maintains a base at Cavite.  For some reason, no doubt, the convenience of the Navy personnel, the Navy Yard Post Office at Cavite has been set aside as a branch of the Honolulu Post Office, thousands of miles away.  At this branch, only United States stamps are in use and valid for postage.

Through the kindness of Mrs. W. E. Schmelkes, I am permitted to examine and describe several types of postmarks which are employed at the Cavite office.  One is a "Clipper" letter, mailed from Honolulu to Cavite, with a 30¢ airmail stamp, which was short-paid by and required another 30¢ airmail stamp at destination.  The first stamp is cancelled, in the usual machine type, "Honolulu, Hawaii, Apr. 26,1941," as the letter left Hawaii.  At Cavite it was stamped "Postage Due 30 Cents," and a second 30¢ airmail stamp was attached, this time cancelled, "Cavite, Hawaii," in two lines, in a rectangular box, similar to the box style cancellations often seen on parcel post matter.  Another cover is shown locally handled in Cavite, with a 3¢ U. S. National Defense stamp, machine cancelled as follows:  "Honolulu, Hawaii, P. I. Br. Jan. 24, 1941," and to the right part of the same cancelling impression, "Navy Yard, Cavite, P. I."

The post office is well equipped and a registry handstamp reads as follows:  "Honolulu, Hawaii. (Navy Yard, Cavite, P. I. Br.) Registered. Jan. 15, 1941."  A money order handstamp, dated December 5, 1940, reads the same, except for "M.O.B." at the bottom.

I think these are highly interesting items.  I do not know how one would acquire some such covers, much as I'd like them myself, unless you have some friend in the Naval Service stationed at Cavite.  Perhaps it would be just duck soup for the First Day Cover Specialists who seem able to get anywhere.  Perhaps the whole business is already old stuff to these specialists, but it was new to me, and no doubt will be to most of our readers.

- George B. Sloane
Sloan's Column
September 20, 1941
Posted July 23, 2000

Editor's Note: Thanks to David A. Clark, we can illustrate this usage.  Here is a cover from Cavite, P. I. Navy Yard in 1940.

And here is a closeup of the postmark.

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