Found an envelope like this in your attic?
Want to know more about it?
Is it Valuable?
Our data-base can tell you the rarity of each cachet
We can tell you how often it was used, the dates between which it was used, (this can help determine date of postage when cancellation is unreadable); the ink colours and any special features

First read further to learn how to use the data-base,
then, to research your cover, click on the button at the foot
of the page.

The Tin Can Mail Study Circuit has made an extensive study of the rubber stamps that Quensell used to put his cachets onto the mail that entered and left the island. In particular, Janet Klug gathered all the cachet data together in a catalogue.

In order to make the cachets easier to find, she gathered them together in groups according to their shape. The first group, Boxed Cachets, began with simple outlines like the one on the left and developed into highly ornate boxes as time went on.
As Quensell began sending his cachets all over the world, he detected a demand to have "Tin Can Mail" printed in foreign languages such as the German one on the right.
The circular shapes too became ever more ornate and culminated in a huge map of the island that filled the whole side of a normal envelope
These single line cachets were among the first he made, some of them from his removable rubber type. After 1934 the 'canoe' was cut out.
Multi-line. One of his most creative endeavours was built around the registration marks. In the early days the number was written in one of his cachets, but he later had a special stamp made which you can see alongside. Still later he used pre-printed labels, but during the war had to make his own.
Ships Mail. It was not long before the ship's captains wanted to get in on the act and had their own rubber stamps made. These, like the one on the right, told where the mail was 'cast into the sea'. They were later pre-printed on special envelopes.
Printed Cachets. As the popularity of Tin Can Mail grew, Quensell also produced printed covers
In 1937-38 and 1944-45 Tongans celebrated Queen Salote's Jubilee and Quensell produced a number of special covers and rubber stamps.
Some of the cachets, such as waving flags and ovals, do not fall easily into this classification so we have other shapes for you to explore.
Evacuation. Finally in 1946 the island's volcano erupted and all its inhabitants were evacuated with the result that for 12 years there was no Tin Can Mail service from Niuafo'ou.
When you click on the button below you will see a collage of Tin Can Mail envelopes which contain most of the common types of cachet. As you pass your cursor over them a little fly-out label will tell you what kind of cachet you are looking at and if you click on the cachet you will be sent a page showing all the varieties of that shape of cachet.

The rarity values are:

AA: Extremely common
A: Common
B: Less common
C: Reasonably scarce
D: Rare
DD: Very rare.

As with all collections, the monetary value depends on finding an interested buyer

Perhaps you would like to sell your Tin Can Mail?

One dealer with a particular interest in TCM is Steven Zirinsky

He is a member of the Philatelic Traders Society.
His website is:
His email address is:
Mr. Steven Zirinsky, P.O. Box 230049 Ansonia Station
New York, NY NY 10023, USA
Phone:++1(718) 706 0616, Fax:++1(718) 706 0619