Internal Postmarks and Registration Markings of Liberia

small map of Liberian post offices to 1960

This section about postal markings is mainly based on Philip Cockrill’s LIBERIA Series Booklet No. 8: “The Internal Postmarks & Cancellations”.
Some of the post offices listed here used alternate town names on their early postmarks: “Bassa” and “Grand Bassa” cancels are from Buchanan, “Sinoe” from Greenville. Some had their name changed, like Paynefield to Spriggs Payne, or Tchien to Zwedru, and some seem to have vanished altogether, e.g. “Arthington”, which is only known from the 1890s.

  • Circular Postmarks

    • Post Office Cancellations

        • hand stamped postmark in blue
        • earliest known use: from first issue onward (MONROVIA, HARPER, BUCHANAN)
        • usual color for MONROVIA; BUCHANAN and HARPER are rare
        CP1_blue
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: from first issue onward (HARPER, MONROVIA, BUCHANAN, GREENVILLE)
        • usual color for HARPER; BUCHANAN, GREENVILLE and MONROVIA are rare; relative frequency of towns, irrespective of color: MONROVIA: 63%, HARPER: 35%, BUCHANAN: approx. 1%, GREENVILLE: less than 1%
        CP1_black
        • hand stamped postmark in green
        • found only on three copies of 24c green (MONROVIA), in same color as stamp, and on the 12c stamp shown
        CP1_green
        • hand stamped postmark in black (occasionally blue)
        • earliest known use: from first issue onward (HARPER, BUCHANAN)
        • this is CP1 beginning to wear with the circle starting to break up
        CP2
        • hand stamped postmark in black (occasionally blue)
        • earliest known use: from first issue onward (HARPER, BUCHANAN)
        • final stage of CP1 with the circle apparently completely missing
        CP3
        • hand stamped postmark in same color as CP1-CP3
        • earliest known use: from first issue onward
        • PAID cancellation additional to CP1 and although carefully applied centrally it is not usually in correct alignment with the rest of the postmark
        CP4
        • hand stamped postmark in same color as CP1-CP3
        • earliest known use: Dec 13, 1884 (HARPER)
        • three line date additionally applied to CP1 and, as with CP4, often out of alignment; usually found on 1882 8c numeral issue
        CP5
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Sep 10, 1880 (MONROVIA); Jul 28, 1880 (HARPER); Mar 15, 1884 (ROBERTSPORT); Jan 3, 1882 (BASSA); Mar 22, 188- (MARSHALL); Jun - 1881 (SINOE)
        • first recorded postmark (by date of usage) with fixed dateline center; known in use for nearly 20 years from MONROVIA and HARPER and approximately 10 years from ROBERTSPORT and BASSA; SINOE is rare
        CP6
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Sep 30, 1881 (MONROVIA)
        • only seen once on the back of a postcard emanating from an official in the MONROVIA Post Office
        CP7
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Apr 20, 1882 (MONROVIA)
        • lettering of MONROVIA and LIBERIA as well as overall diameter slightly smaller than type CP6, but three line date exactly the same; this type has also been seen used in conjunction with the CP9x bar obliterators, it is usually placed near the stamps on the front of the cover
        CP8
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Jul 31, 1888 (MONROVIA)
        • scarce variety of CP8
        CP8A
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Jul 28, 1880/1886? (HARPER); Jan 21, 1890 (BUCHANAN); Oct 1, 1893 (ROBERTSPORT); Jun 25, 1900 (GREENVILLE)
        • the small stars are in the shape of minute Maltese Crosses; not recorded from MONROVIA
        CP10
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Dec 24, 1879 (MONROVIA)
        • large lettering and the three-line-date distiguishes this type from CP12, but there is also a variant with one-line-date (CP12A); the date 24 DEC 1879 is found on examples of the 1880 issue which is, in fact, days before the accepted date of this issue; only known from MONROVIA
        CP11
        • hand stamped postmark in black or violet
        • earliest known use: Oct 12, 1890 (MONROVIA, in violet); Dec 23, 1891 (HARPER); Aug 1, 1890 (GREENVILLE); Jun 15, 1891 (ROBERTSPORT); Nov 1, 1892 (BASSA); Sep 22, 1886 (BREWERVILLE); Feb 4 (CLAY ASHLAND); Apr 26, 1890 (GRAND BASSA); Apr 1, 1890 (MARSHALL); Sep 24, 1886 (MILLSBURG)
        • one-line-date and narrower lettering than CP11, but Cockrill reported a variety CP12A dated Aug 22, 1882 (HARPER, found on Scott 32) with wide lettering like type CP11; the Xs between MONROVIA and LIBERIA are apparently moveable as they can occur at all sorts of angles even as a plus sign, and the angle of one can be different to the other so that it is equally possible for both to be omitted
        CP12
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: May 25, 1892 (HARPER)
        • only known from HARPER
        CP13
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: 1898 (HARPER)
        • only known from HARPER
        CP13A
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Apr 25, 1891 (BASSA)
        • differs from CP10 in the circle being 1.5 mm larger in diameter and month and year of the three-line-date being in a smaller type
        CP14
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Jul 7, 1893 (ARTHINGTON)
        • similar to CP14 but without the ornaments between the words; first postmark for ARTHINGTON (rare)
        CP15
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Apr 29 (BREWERVILLE)
        • like type CP15, but without year date
        CP15A
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: 1896 (MONROVIA, on 1892 issue)
        • like CTO2, but with dateline; rare
        CP17
        • hand stamped postmark in black or violet
        • earliest known use: Apr 24, 1897 (MONROVIA, in violet); May 4, 1895 (HARPER, in violet); Jan 25, 1900 (BUCHANAN, in violet); Sep 14, 1896 (GREENVILLE); Oct 9, 1903 (ROBERTSPORT, in violet); Sep 14, 1896 (GRAND BASSA); Feb 9, 1913 (MARSHALL); Nov 28 (NANNA KROO); Jun 12, 1913 (RIVERCESS, in violet); May 24, 1912 (POST OFFICE DEPT. - MONROVIA)
        • in type CP18 lettering is close to the circle whereas in the A type it is further away from the outer ring and the letters are taller; CP18A is known from MONROVIA and HARPER
        CP18_CP18A
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Feb 15, 1913 (MONEY ORDER BUREAU)
        • one of, if not the rarest postmark of Liberia of the 20th century; probably only used on internal mail
        CZ1
        • hand stamped postmark in black or violet
        • earliest known use: May 20, 1900 (MONROVIA, in violet); Jan 1, 1909 (HARPER, in violet); May 11, 1901 (BUCHANAN, in violet); Oct 19, 1912 (GREENVILLE); Aug 1911 (ROBERTSPORT); Jun 17, 1914 (MARSHALL); Nov 1928 (NANNA KROO, smaller sized postmark)
        • first Registration postmark which appears to have come into use in 1900 according to Colonel Rogers’ records; known in use until as late as 1925
        CP20
        • hand stamped postmark in black or violet
        • earliest known use: Apr 12, 1905 (MONROVIA, in violet); Sep 7, 1905 (HARPER, in violet); Apr 23, 1906 (BUCHANAN, in violet)
        • in use for about ten years from all three towns
        CP19
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Jul 2, 1914 (RIVERCESS)
        • Maltese cross ornaments either side between RIVERCESS and LIBERIA; not to be confused with CP19
        CP23
        • hand stamped postmark in black, violet or blue
        • earliest known use: Jan 10, 1910 (MONROVIA, in violet, blue, blue/black); Jan 29, 1918 (HARPER, in violet); Jan 26, 1915 (BUCHANAN, in violet, blue, blue/black); Aug 16, 1917 (GREENVILLE, in violet, blue, blue/black); Nov 14, 1920 (ROBERTSPORT); Nov 4, 1937 (BASSA); Sep 14, 1920 (MARSHALL); May 19, 1920 (RIVERCESS, in violet, blue, blue/black); Jun 21, 1939 (KAKATA, year in full and slightly larger postmark)
        • also found as CTO on sets printed in Germany (1920/21 - 1924) with many different dates from MONROVIA, HARPER, BUCHANAN, GREENVILLE, ROBERTSPORT, MARSHALL and RIVERCESS; there is no major difference between this and type CTO13, thus the much rarer postally used stamps can be indistinguishable from cancelled-to-order without gum, if they have a black postmark from a town listed above; severe cases of break-up of the lines across the inner circle (CP21A) should not be confused with the smaller diameter circled type CP22
        CP21_CP21A
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Nov 25, 1941 (MONROVIA); Nov 11, 1960 (BUCHANAN, also blank dateline with manuscript date); Nov 15, 1959 (GREENVILLE); May 10, 1945 (MARSHALL)
        • at least 3 mm less in diameter than CP21
        CP22
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Nov 27, 1941 (HARBEL POST OFFICE)
        • Henry Chlanda records a similar, but smaller postmark (30 mm diameter)
        CP24
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Feb 15, 1942 (MONROVIA); Jul 14, 1942 (HARPER); Apr 2, 1941 (ROBERTSFIELD); Aug 23, 1945 (HARBEL)
        • with or without year date; this postmark is very similar to the types used by the British Postal Service at the time
        CP25
        • hand stamped postmark in black, red, green, blue or violet
        • earliest known use: Jul 8, 1947 (MONROVIA, in violet, blue); Apr 21, 1956 (MONROVIA P.O., in violet, blue); Mar 7, 1949 (HARPER); May 11, 1959 (BUCHANAN, in red); Jan 12, 1952 (GREENVILLE, in blue, green); Oct 10, 1951 (ROBERTSPORT, in violet, blue); Sep 1, 1952 (CAREYSBURG); Oct 8, 1946 (GANTA); Feb 20, 1947 (GEDETARBO, in violet, green); Dec 31, 1958 (GRANDCESS); Oct 12, 1948 (HARBEL); Nov 7, 1955 (MARSHALL, in violet); Nov 20, 1959 (RIVERCESS); Jan 6, 1958 (ROBERTSFIELD, in violet); Dec 23, 1959 (SALLALA); Aug 15, 1960 (SANIQUELLI); Jan 4, 1959 (TAPPITA); Oct 12, 1946 (WEBBO); Feb 21, 1956 (WHITE PLAINS)
        • this postmark was introduced during a complete reorganization of the Liberian Postal Service under British Postal Service advisers over a period, probably from 1942-1944, when it was decided to decentralise and open a number of new post offices, in fact almost doubling the existing number; many errors exist with missing dates for year, day and/or month, star where year date should be, inverted figure and letters etc.; variety CP26A has a smaller star and slightly larger lettering
        CP26_CP26A
        • hand stamped postmark in black or violet
        • earliest known use: Aug 28, 1947 (MONROVIA, separate date); 1947 (MONROVIA POST OFFICE); manuscript Apr 17, 1946 and Jul 22, 1946 (GANTA); undated on 1944/46 provisionals 4c/10c (ZORZOR); manuscript Jul 14, 1946 (TAPPITA POSTAL AGENCY); Dec 3, 1949 (TCHIEN POSTAL AGENCY)
        • lettering is at a slant always; sometimes with separate dateline CP27A
        CP27_CP27A
        • hand stamped postmark in violet
        • earliest known use: Sep 19, 1947 (MONROVIA)
        • similar to CP31, but with separate dateline CP27A
        CP27_var1
        • hand stamped postmark in black or dark violet
        • earliest known use: Jul 29, 1947 (MONROVIA)
        • narrow lettering similar to CP31, but smaller diameter and with larger space for dateline CP27A
        CP27_var2
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Jun 6, 1947 (MONROVIA)
        • due to the dateline not fitting in the handstamp recourse had to be made to separate dateline stamping; also known without dateline
        CP31
        • hand stamped postmark in black or violet
        • earliest known use: Aug 26, 1947 (MONROVIA); Aug 3, 1948 (BUCHANAN); Jul 30, 1948 (GREENVILLE, in violet); Aug 5, 1946 (ROBERTSPORT); Nov 17, 1949 (FOYA, in violet); Jan 11, 1949 (GANTA, in violet); Feb 23, 1949 (GBARNGA); Aug 10, 1951 (GRANDCESS); Jan 19, 1948 (HARBEL); May 11, 1951 (KAKATA); Dec 12, 1946 (KOLAHUN); Jun 21, 1948 (TAPPITA)
        • also reported from HARPER, but no date given
        CP29
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: manuscript Jun 26, 1946 (MONROVIA); manuscript 1947 (HARBEL)
        CP30
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Aug 17, 1948 (MONROVIA)
        • only on FFC with C61 and C62
        CP32
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Jan 20, 1951 (MONROVIA PORT AREA)
        CP34
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Apr 12, 1951 (HARBEL)
        CP35
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Apr 23, 1951 (HARBEL)
        CP36
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: manuscript 1946 (HARBEL)
        CP36A
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Jan 12, 1952 (MONROVIA)
        CP37
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Jun 4, 1956 (MONROVIA)
        • this postmark also exists with the base apparently broken and ‘LIBERIA’ missing; all examples so far recorded seem to have the same time, 9.45 AM
        CP39
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Nov 15, 1956 (MONROVIA)
        CP40
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Dec 9, 1958 (GEDETARBO)
        • known cancelling stamps on same cover with CP26 dated Dec 9, 1958
        CP41
        • hand stamped postmark in black or violet
        • earliest known use: Aug 8, 1960 (MONROVIA); Nov 23, 1958 (MONROVIA, with star above date); Nov 30, 1960 (ROBERTSFIELD, in violet); Aug 19, 1960 (PAYNESFIELD)
        • with or without star or (post office ?) number above date
        CP42
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: May 11, 1960 (MONROVIA)
        • like CP42, but narrow lettering of MONROVIA and LIBERIA
        CP42_narrow
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Feb 28, 1968 (MOBIL P.O. BOX 1.)
        • note spelling ‘MOBIL’ for ‘Mobile’, as opposed to correct spelling on vehicle
        CP44
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Aug 23, 1969 (GBARNGA MOBILE P O NO TWO)
        • created from special postmark used for Bong County souvenir cover of 1967, see Souvenir Items
        CP43
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Aug 14, 1969 (MONROVIA 1); Jan 12, 1970 (MONROVIA 2); Oct 18, 1975 (MONROVIA 3)
        CP45
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Dec 16, 1972 (MONROVIA RANDALL STR BOX)
        CP46
        • machine postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Jun 3, 1963 (MONROVIA); Jul 1964 (ROBERTS FIELD); last known use: Dec 8, 1965 (MONROVIA)
        • Liberia’s first machine postmark; two different dials for Monrovia: second dial with slightly narrower setting of ‘LIBERIA’ only used in late 1965
        CPm1
        • machine postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Apr 4, 1966 (MONROVIA); last known use: Sep 25, 1981 (MONROVIA)
        • same dials as CPm1, but boxed slogan killer ‘CLEAR ADDRESSING SPEEDS YOU MAIL’ instead of wavy lines; postmarks with year dates omitted are from 1977 to 1979 or 1981; two different dials for Monrovia: after initial use of second type of CPm1 change back to first dial in early 1968
        CPm2
        • machine postmark in black
        • earliest known use: Dec 9, 1981 (MONROVIA); last known use: with year date Sep 7, 1982 (MONROVIA), without year date until at least Oct 10, 1989 (MONROVIA)
        • similar to CPm1, but ‘MONROVIA’ in narrower typeface; later use without year date
        CPm3
    • CTO Markings

        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • found on 1892 $1, $2, $5 pictorials
        CTO1
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • found on 1897 3c and 1913 8c surcharge, 1903 3c, 1903 10c registration set, 1906 and 1909 pictorials, also occasionally on 1892 $1-$5; like CP17 without date line
        CTO2
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • found only on 1903 3c black (ordinary stamp)
        CTO3
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • found on 1903 10c Buchanan and Harper
        CTO4
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • found on 1918 pictorials
        CTO12
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • found as CTO on sets printed in Germany (1920/21 - 1924) with many different dates from MONROVIA, HARPER, BUCHANAN, GREENVILLE, ROBERTSPORT, MARSHALL and RIVERCESS; there is no major difference between this and type CP21, thus cancelled-to-order stamps can be indistinguishable from postally used, unless they still have gum on the back
        CTO13
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • found on 1928 pictorials
        CTO14
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • found on 1936 airmail set
        CTO15
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • found on 1937 fauna and 1938 airmail set
        CTO16
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • found on 1937 fauna and 1938 airmail set
        CTO17
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • found on early Peckmore & Son issues and on E.A. Wright Bank Note Co. printed issues from 1950
        CTO18
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • very similar to CP26, but without dates
        CTO19
        • hand stamped postmark in grayish
        • similar to CTO19, but lettering closer to the circle and star closer to the center
        CTO20
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: 1953
        • so far only on some sheets of 1953 bird issue
        CTOcf21
        • hand stamped postmark in black
        • earliest known use: from 1954 onwards
        CTO21
        • printed postmark in
        • earliest known use: from 1964 onwards by E.A. Wright Bank Note Co.
        • printed on the stamps in the center of every block of four
        CTO22
        • hand stamped postmark in
        • earliest known use: probably from late 1965
        • similar to CTO22, but hand stamped, without date and an ‘X’ instead of a star
        CTO23
        • hand stamped postmark in
        • earliest known use: From 1967/1968 to well into the late 70s
        • similar to CTO22, but hand stamped and without date; became standard throughout the 1970s despite different printing firms being responsible for printing the stamps during that period
        CTO24