"The very term 'country' can be controversial. Who decides what is a country and what isn't? The criterion used in this document is simple: if the USPS lists it in its Index to Countries and Localities, we treat it as a country. Thus some localities (such as Reunion Island) that are not distinct countries are listed, whereas other localities that consider themselves countries (such as Western Sahara) are not listed (but still discussed). Rationale: if you address mail from the USA to WESTERN SAHARA, the USPS won't know what to do with it. If you want to send mail to SAINT PIERRE AND MIQUELON (a part of France that is in Canada) from the USA, it doesn't make sense for the mail to go all the way to France and back." Frank's Compulsive Guide to Country Addresses
"For decades, the stamps were dismissed by the philatelic establishment as tacky novelties and were, correspondingly, as cheap as chips." [more inside]
In 1963 Tove Jansson wrote and illustrated a letter from Santa Claus for the Finnish post office, which was inundated with letters to Santa. It has now been scanned and posted by the Moomin company on its blog as part of its regular series of letters from Tove Jansson.
On January 27, 1913 Mr. & Mrs. J.W. Savis of Pine Hollow, PA entrusted their daughter to rural carrier James Byerly out of Sharpsville, PA. He delivered her safely that afternoon to relatives in Clay Hollow. It cost 45 cents to send their daughter. For the first few years of the U.S. Parcel Post it was legal to mail children, as long as they were under 50 pounds. [SLPDF]
New York City's mail chutes are lovely, ingenious and almost entirely ignored. But what happens if mail gets stuck?
Scholars are beginning to examine an unprecedented collection of European correspondence from the late 17th and early 18th centuries--a chest belonging to a Dutch postmaster which contains some 2600 undelivered letters, 600 of which have never been opened.
"Burkhard challenged Miller to a 'Cheese Duel': Burkhard and Miller would sit at a table, and if Burkhard could cut a piece of Limburger cheese and Miller not wretch, Miller would be forbidden from complaining about Wisconsin and her cheese ever again." [more inside]
In 1915, dissatisfied with the many competing designs for rural mailboxes, the US Post Office Department decided to specify its own box. The result, designed by postal engineer Roy Joroleman, was the iconic tunnel mailbox. Unpatented and easily manufacturable, it would be become ubiquitous along America's roadsides and would often serve as a blank canvas for homeowners' artistic expression. [more inside]
When was the last time you got something in the mail other than the water bill or a pizza menu? Why does mail always have to be bad news? Groups online are reviving the dying tradition of penpals and sending the most wonderful, creative letters and notes across the globe, making the moment the mail drops onto the doormat exciting instead of dread-inducing again. Bonus link - the League of Extraordinary Penpals, who "think that writing a letter snuggled under a blanket with a cup of tea and a cat by your side is a better way to spend your Friday night than hanging out at the bar."
Postal History Corner: Canadian Postal and Philatelic History is chock full of fascinating information and high quality images and has been doing so for four years. [more inside]
During their Freedom Hosting investigation and malware attack last year, the FBI unintentionally obtained the entire e-mail database of popular anonymous webmail service Tor Mail. And now, they've used it in an unrelated investigation to bust a Florida man accused of stealing credit card numbers. [more inside]
13 reasons why I am taking the Daily Mail to the Press Complaints Commission Jon Danzig deconstructs and demolishes a Daily Mail immigration story. [DM story: Sold out! Flights and buses full as Romanians and Bulgarians head for the UK]
In 2000, Improbable Research sent a variety of regulation-violating items through the mail to see what would make it.
“He articulates the dreams, fears and hopes of socially insecure members of the suburban middle class,” .... “It’s a daily performance of genius.” Paul Dacre of the Daily Mail
Between 1897 and 1953, the New York City post office used a system of pneumatic tubes to move up to 30% of its mail around the city. Among the first things sent whizzing across Manhattan during the inauguration of the system: a black cat. Via the links in that Atlantic article, you can find other strange aspects to the story. For example, there was a pneumatic subway in use in NYC by 1870 — The Beach Pneumatic Transit covered an entire block for three years!
Concerned about privacy and government surveillance? Not even snail-mail is safe: With Mail Isolation Control and Tracking, the US Postal Service is now photographing the exterior of every piece of paper mail in the United States, and storing the data indefinitely.
In this hidden-camera video, designer Ruben van der Vleuten answers the question, "What happens when you send something by mail?" (SLV)
A collection of pictures of mailboxes in the western US - part of the Fife Collection of Western U.S. Vernacular Architecture, which also includes quilts, murals, tree bark graffiti, fences, gravestones, and festivals, and other examples of folklife and material culture visually recorded by folklorists Austin and Alta Fife. [more inside]
Post & Prejudice: [guardian.co.uk] "The Royal Mail is joining in the celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice with the release of a series of stamps featuring all six of Jane Austen's novels. Royal Mail commissioned the artwork by Angela Barrett." [Slideshow]
The United States Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays starting in August. The move is expected to save $2 billion annually, which will no doubt help fix their imaginary pension problem. [more inside]
The US Postal Service is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Parcel Post by renaming it "Standard Post". [more inside]
Chow.com tells you how to ship cookies and other treats for the holidays: "You don't want to ship any cookie or baked good that won't hold up for three to five days sitting around your house in the container you plan to ship in. Not sure? Do a test batch and see what happens." [more inside]
Fuck You Daily Mail. Martin Robbins of The Pod Delusion, gives a 20 minute presentation of his thoughts concerning The Daily Mail (slyt).
Payhole.me. The Rules: Feed me money. Put in an address. Get something in the mail. [via mefi projects]
A Month of Letters is a challenge with two parts: mail something (anything!) every day the post runs in February and respond to every letter you get.
"Or don't you like to write letters. I do because it's such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you've done something." ~Ernest Hemingway
Post A Letter Social Activity Club: "Imagine a day when every personal e-mail you receive is in the form of a piece of mail, in envelopes of different sizes, papers of different colours and textures, handwriting of varying degrees of legibility. Wouldn’t that be pretty nice for a change?" [more inside]
CameraMail. Honolulu based conceptual artist Matthew McVickar sent a Kodak FunSaver taped to a piece of cardboard through the mail with instructions for the postal workers to take pictures as it travelled from his hometown on Cape Cod. These are the results. (via reddit)
Urban explorers surreptitiously gain access to the Post Office Railway underneath London, take lots of photos.
Artist Sarah Musi sent little pieces of art to forty-five artists, along with a tiny blank canvas for them to create something and return it. So far she has received six back.
Past, I'd like to introduce you to the present. "Letters Home relies on contributions. We are nothing without readers who are willing to share their stories or respond to others. We don’t think we’re alone in wondering what’s happened to our childhood homes since we left. Or in wanting to share an important event that occurred there – from a birthday party to a marriage proposal, a secret revealed to a lie concealed. Write a letter to the present occupant (even if it’s still family), the owner of the store that now stands on that lot, whatever or whoever might be there now, and share your memory. Ask them to respond with their own story and photo. Their letter and photo will then be added to your post." How Letters Home works?
The stately James Farley Post Office on 8th Ave in Manhattan is being converted into the long-awaited Moynihan Train Station. Almost the entire block-long building has been emptied to prepare for the conversion and Mefi's own nycscout (previously, previously, previously) was there to take pictures. [via mefi projects]
Dictaphone Parcel. Lauri Warsta put a tape recorder inside a box, set it recording, sealed up the box, sent it from London to Finland through the post, then animated the captured audio. Previously
"In April 2009, we sent a personal, handwritten letter to each of the 467 households in the small Irish village of Cushendall." Now, Michael Crowe and Lenka Clayton (previously on MeFi) intend to send a letter to everyone on the planet.
Lea Redmond is Postmaster of 'The World's Smallest Postal Service'. In CA she sets up her tiny shop and sends miniature versions of transcribed letters, complete with little wax seals.
Shoot It! Create and mail a real [paper!] postcard from anywhere and to anyone around the world.
John J Marley (Gloria's husband) is Northern Ireland's answer to Lazlo Toth -- writing actual posted mail from his home at Comfydown Cottage, Carryduff, Belfast, to correspond with a variety of corporations and heads-of-state. Whether it's asking Irwin's Bakery to employ his wife Gloria (he's her husband), asking Virgin Atlantic if Gloria could take one of their 747's for a spin, or petitioning Kellogg's for adult-themed cereals, he always (well, almost always) receives an appreciative reply to his polite yet bizarre correspondence. [via cjorgensen; previously]
What happens if you post a letter using coins instead of stamps?
Return to sender: Artist puts Royal Mail to the test - "To put them to the test, Harriet Russell concealed the addresses of 130 letters to herself in a series of increasingly complex puzzles and ciphers. Among the disguises she employed were dot-to-dot drawings, anagrams and cartoons. The answer, it seems, was very far indeed. Amazingly, only 10 failed to complete their journey back to her." Be sure to click the "more pictures" link to the right for more samples. Via one.point.zero.
you've got new postcrossed mail You have heard of geocaching. You have heard of Bookcrossing. Here comes Postcrossing. The main idea is that: if you send a postcard, you'll receive at least one back, from a random Postcrosser from somewhere in the world. [more inside]
A few examples of high-quality re-creations of medieval armor. Much of this is created using historical techniques (youtube,) by men (slightly NSFW) who can only be called masters. But it ain't cheap. [more inside]
Oops: UK tax collection agency loses discs containing personal details of 25 million Britons in the mail.
More fun from the Daily Mail. Apparently Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones has decided to post bits from his upcoming autobiography. 1| 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 [more inside]
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