Intro

A pictorial cancellation is an inked marking or impression with a graphical design.  Philatelically speaking, a cancellation is defined as a postal marking used to deface a stamp in order to prevent its reuse. A postmark is a marking used to document the Post Office location and the date/time of mailing.  A postmark can be used as a cancellation but the reverse is not always true even though the terms cancellation and postmark are often used interchangeably.

Here we extend the definition of cancellation to include non-postal use as well. Sometimes collectors refer to these as cachets when they are found on covers as decorative designs.

Pictorial cancellation can be categorized further into 2 types:

  • Commemorative – Commemorative cancellations are used to celebrate an anniversary or to promote an event.  These cancellations are characterized by a temporary and short usage duration (a few months).  First day of issue and special event cancellations fall into this category.
  • Permanent/Non-Commemorative – A permanent cancellation is characterized by a long usage duration (several years).  Its design typically features a tourist attraction, a cultural symbol/icon, or a place with historical significance.

My collecting interests focus on the permanent cancellations. Many postal administrations around the world have adopted the use of permanent pictorial postmarks. These include post office postmarks of Canada, India, UK, and scenic postmarks of Japan, China, and Taiwan.  Some designs are simple and elegant; Others are intricate with stunning details.

This website will showcase pictorial cancellations from my collection. Digitizing also helps preserving some of the older cancellations as environmental exposure have caused fading of the ink and severe foxing of the paper they were printed on.  Collectors with similar interest can contact me at

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2 thoughts on “Intro

  1. Hi, I never know that there is a difference between postmark and cancellation mark. Regarding the first paragraph “A postmark can be used as a cancellation but the reverse is not true”, I suppose cancellation marks are those with wave-lines. Aren’t those marks normally also come with date and location? May I know why they can’t be used to document PO and date of mailing?

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    1. Hi, wavy lines and “killer” bars by themselves without date and location information are just cancellations. Often they are paired with a circle with date and location and together they are considered to be postmarks. One example is when a postal worker used a pen to cross out an un-canceled stamp, in the discussion context here, the pen marking is considered to be a cancellation and not a postmark.

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