London (GB) & Germany (DE) The Hoster Machine cancels

From Stamps of the World

London EC cancelling a Post Office Jubilee Uniform Penny Post cover. 1890

History and Development of the Hoster Machines 1882 - 1893

(Adapted from Westley)

London EC uprated 1d Uniform Penny Post card uprated with a 1½d Jubilee cancelled with a hooded London EC cancel. Main card cancelled with the Hoster machine on March 23rd 1892 with the Hoster reading LONDON/E 92 C

The 'Hoster trials' started in 1882 with a duo of machines built by Newton, Wilson & Company. The initial trials were conducted in the Inland Office of the GPO until August of that year. It is believed that the development of the Hosters came from work on the Azemar Machines used as early as 1869.

Initial suggestions believed that the machines were of no better use/efficiency in cancelling post items. Westley suggests that these two machines may in fact not have been 'Hoster' machines at all although no records have survived. In the following year of 1883 it appears that the GPO met directly with Mr. Hoster following no further dealings with N W & Co. Hoster supplied a further machine for testing which again resulted in no further satisfaction to the GPO. The reasons given by the GPO were that the cancels used an unusually large die, measuring almost 5cm x 3cm. Which although giving a more than satisfactory impression on letters and obliterating the stamps. However, it again was found not to improve efficiency in the number of letters that it could cancel viz handstamping. It also appeared to be prone to missing or misplacing the cancels as they passed through the machine.

Unperturbed by this, Hoster continued with determination on his machines to improve them. By 1884 the GPO after more testing came to a approval of a machine submitted and tested at the GPO Sorting Office. The machines were of a couple of types, one is known to be foot (treadle) powered similar to later sewing machine treadles, the other was hand powered. They were capable of cancelling over 6 letters per second. Far more than possible by hand and they also envisaged that the development of a steam type would give further increases in capabilities. It also benefitted over the previous machines as it was found to miss fewer letters in the processing. It was recommended that a further 3 machines be purchased by the GPO.

The introduction of the machines appears to have been developed over the next few years with the introduction of the machines in various offices including main PO's of Bedford Street and Charing Cross as well as at the Newspaper Branch.

However the machines were short lived and would eventually be retired by 1893 with the advance and development of other more efficient and better made machines. The machine did gain some international usage, with a number of machines also found being used in Germany during the same periods.

London Hoster Machine Cancels

London E.C. Office

London EC cancelling a cover in 1885, which missed the stamp and so was hand-cancelled on arrival in the SW office.
London Double circle dotted cancel with stars used in 1885. Dots instead of bars is a very rare cancel.
London Single circle 14 bar cancel used in 1886. Type IV.
London Double circle dotted cancel with stars used in 1887. Only in use 2nd Feb - 21st March 1887.
London Double circle 14 bar cancel used in 1889.
London Double circle ZZ (late) = 16th trial, date in 1 row used in 1891.
London Double circle 17 bar, Type VIII cancel used in 1887. With date and month between stars and Die number '1' in bottom left corner.
London Double circle 16 bar cancel, Type IX, used in 1889. With date and month between stars, cancelling a QV 2½d Jubilee sent to Germany.
London 1892 Double circle Type 13 Hoster with bottom base bridge connector and lines running right to left on 1d UPU Card to India. Card also has the 2nd type Aden Sea Post cancel and a receivers cds of JEYPORE/1st/DELY/JAN 17/93.

Bedford Street

Bedford St used 1886, one of 6 known, ex Zietlow collection

Charing Cross

CX used 1888 ex Zietlow collection
Charing Cross Hoster cancel of 1885
Charing Cross Hoster cancel of 1886 to Malines, Belgium

Newspaper Branch N.P.B.

NPB always undated 1885-87, few known, ex Zietlow collection
London NPB c.1885-87, to Budapest

Germany Hoster Machine Cancels


Berlin C Hoster of 1885


Hamburg PA1 1886 used on Stationery wrapper.