A pillar box is a free-standing post box where mail is deposited to be collected by the Royal Mail and forwarded to the addressee. Pillar boxes have been used since 1852, just 12 years after the introduction of the first adhesive postage stamps and uniform penny post. According to the Letter Box Study Group, there are more than 150 recognised designs and varieties of pillar boxes and wall boxes, not all of which have known surviving examples. Royal Mail estimates there are over 100,000 post boxes in the United Kingdom.
Most traditional British Pillar boxes produced after 1905 are made of cast iron and are cylindrical in shape, though other shapes have been used; the hexagonal Penfolds, rectangular boxes, and an oval shape used mainly for the large "double aperture" boxes seen in large cities, such as, London and Dublin. In recent years boxes manufactured in glass-fibre or ABS plastic have been produced.
The advent of the wayside post box can be traced to Sir Rowland Hill and his Surveyor for the Western District, the noted novelist, Anthony Trollope who was sent to solve the problem of collecting the mails in the Channel Islands caused by the irregular sailing times of the Royal Mail packet boats due to weather and tides. Trollope arrived in Jersey in early 1852 and his recommendation was to employ a “letter-receiving pillar” he may have seen in Paris.
A crash cover is any type of cover, (including air accident cover, interrupted flight cover, wreck cover) meaning any piece of mail that has been recovered from a fixed-wing aircraft, airship or aeroplane crash, train wreck, shipwreck or other postal transportation accident during its journey from sender to recipient.
In many cases it was possible to recover some or even all of the mail being carried and the postal authorities typically apply a postal marking (cachet), label, or mimeograph that gets affixed to the cover explaining the delay and damage to the recipient, and possibly enclose the letter in an "ambulance cover" or "body bag" if it was badly damaged and forwarded to its intended destination.
Things you can do
Did you know...
... that the first Penny Post was established in London in 1680 by William Dockwra nearly 200 years before the better known Uniform Penny Post that was part of the postal reforms of 1839 and 1840 in Great Britain.
... that Czesław Słania (1921-2005) is the most prolific stamp engraver, with more than 1,000 post stamps for 28 postal administrations?
... that a forerunner is a postage stamp used during the time period before a region or territory issues stamps of its own?
... that the Royal Philatelic Society is the oldest philatelic society in the world, founded in London in 1869?
... that Marcophily is the specialised study and collection of postmarks, cancellations and postal markings applied by hand or machine on mail?
... that throughout U.S. history, different types of mail bags have been called mail pouch, mail sack, mail satchel, catcher pouch, mochila saddle mailbag, and portmanteau depending on form, function, place and time?
... that Non-denominated postage are postage stamps that do not show a monetary value on the face?
... that the Daguin machine was a cancelling machine first used in post offices in Paris in 1884?
... that the first airmail of the United States was a personal letter from George Washington carried on an aerial balloon flight from Philadelphia by Jean Pierre Blanchard?
Stamp of the month
The Penny Black was the world's first official adhesive postage stamp, issued by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on May 1, 1840, for use from May 6.
The idea of an adhesive stamp to indicate prepayment of postage was part of Rowland Hill's 1837 proposal to reform the British postal system. A companion idea which Hill disclosed on February 13, 1837 at a government inquiry was that of a separate sheet which folded to form an enclosure or envelope for carrying letters. At that time postage was charged by the sheet and distance involved and the inquiry Hill noted that the stamp idea might obviate the envelope.
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