- For electronic mail, see Email
Mail, or post, is a system for transporting letters and other tangible objects: written documents, typically enclosed in envelopes, and also small packages are delivered to destinations around the world. Anything sent through the postal system is called mail or post.
In principle, a postal service can be private or public. Governments often place restrictions on private postal delivery systems. Since the mid-19th century national postal systems have generally been established as government monopolies with a fee on the article prepaid. Proof of payment is often in the form of adhesive postage stamps, but postage meters are also used for bulk mailing.
Postal authorities often have functions other than transporting letters. In some countries, a Postal Telegraph and Telephone (PTT) service oversees the postal system as well as having authority over telephone and telegraph systems. Some countries' postal systems allow for savings accounts and handle applications for passports.
- 1 Early postal systems
- 2 Etymology
- 3 Modern mail
- 4 Types of mail
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Early postal systems
The practice of communication by written documents carried by an intermediary from one person or place to another almost certainly dates back nearly to the invention of writing. However, development of formal postal systems occurred much later. The first documented use of an organized courier service for the diffusion of written documents is in Egypt, where Pharaohs used couriers for the diffusion of their decrees in the territory of the State (2400 BC).
The first credible claim for the development of a real postal system comes from Ancient Persia but the point of invention remains in question. The best documented claim (Xenophon) attributes the invention to the Persian King Cyrus the Great (550 BC), while other writers credit his successor Darius I of Persia (521 BC). Other sources claim much earlier dates for an Assyrian postal system, with credit given to Hammurabi (1700 BC) and Sargon II (722 BC). Mail may not have been the primary mission of this postal service, however. The role of the system as an intelligence gathering apparatus is well documented, and the service was (later) called angariae, a term that in time turned to indicate a tax system. The Old Testament (Esther, VIII) makes mention of this system: Ahasuerus, king of Medes, used couriers for communicating his decisions.
The Persian system worked on stations (called Chapar-Khaneh), where the message carrier (called Chapar) would ride to the next post, whereupon he would swap his horse with a fresh one, for maximum performance and delivery speed. Herodotus described the system in this way: "It is said that as many days as there are in the whole journey, so many are the men and horses that stand along the road, each horse and man at the interval of a day’s journey; and these are stayed neither by snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness from accomplishing their appointed course with all speed".
The economic growth and political stability under the Mauryan empire (322–185 BC) saw the development of impressive civil infrastructure in ancient India. The Mauryans developed early Indian mail service as well as public wells, rest houses and other facilities for the common public. Common chariots called Dagana were sometimes used as mail chariots in ancient India.
In ancient times the kings, emperors, rulers, zamindars or the feudal lords protected their land through the intelligence services of specially trained police or military agencies and courier services to convey and obtain information through runners, messengers and even through pigeons. The chief of the secret service, known as the postmaster, maintained the lines of communication ... The people used to send letters to [their] distant relatives through their friends or neighbors.
In South India, the Wodeyar dynasty (1399 - 1947) of the Kingdom of Mysore used mail service for espionage purposes thereby acquiring knowledge related to matters that took place at great distances.
By the end of the 18th century the postal system in India had reached impressive levels of efficiency. According to British national Thomas Broughton, the Maharaja of Jodhpur sent daily offerings of fresh flowers from his capital to Nathadvara (320 km) and they arrived in time for the first religious Darshan at sunrise. Later this system underwent complete modernization when the British Raj established its full control over India. The Post Office Act XVII of 1837 provided that the Governor-General of India in Council had the exclusive right of conveying letters by post for hire within the territories of the East India Company. The mails were available to certain officials without charge, which became a controversial privilege as the years passed. On this basis the Indian Post Office was established on October 1, 1837.
China enjoyed postal relay stations since the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). First largest postal system in the world was established by Ugedei Khan who was successor of Genghis Khan of Mongolian empire in thirteen century including China. During the Yuan Dynasty under Kublai Khan, China was integrated first into the much larger Örtöö system of the Mongol Empire.
The first well documented postal service is that of Rome. Organized at the time of Augustus Caesar (62 BC–AD 14), it may also be the first true mail service. The service was called cursus publicus and was provided with light carriages called rhedæ with fast horses. Additionally, there was another slower service equipped with two-wheeled carts (birolæ) pulled by oxen. This service was reserved for government correspondence. Another service for citizens was later added.
Genghis Khan installed an empire-wide messenger and postal station system named Örtöö within the Mongol Empire. During the Yuan Dynasty under Kublai Khan, this system also covered the territory of China. Postal stations were used not only for the transmission and delivery of official mail, but were also available for traveling officials, military men, and foreign dignitaries. These stations aided and facilitated the transport of foreign and domestic tribute, and trade in general. By the end of Kublai Khan's rule there were more than 1400 postal stations in China alone, which in turn had at their disposal about 50000 horses, 1400 oxen, 6700 mules, 400 carts, 6000 boats, over 200 dogs and 1150 sheep.
Another important postal service was created in the Islamic world by the caliph Mu'awiyya; the service was called barid, by the name of the towers built to protect the roads by which couriers travelled.
Well before the Middle Ages and during them, homing pigeons were used for pigeon post, taking advantage of a singular quality of this bird, which when taken far from its nest is able to find his way home due to a particularly developed sense of orientation. Messages were then tied around the legs of the pigeon, which was freed and could reach his original nest.
Many religious orders had a private mail service, notably Cistercians' one connected more than 6,000 abbeys, monasteries and churches. The best organization however was created by the Knights Templar. The newly instituted universities too had their private services, starting from Bologna (1158).
Popular illiteracy was accommodated through the service of scribes. Illiterates who needed to communicate dictated their messages to a scribe, another profession now quite generally disappeared.
In 1505, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I established a postal system in the Empire, appointing Franz von Thurn und Taxis to run it. The Thurn and Taxis family, then known as Tassis, had operated postal services between Italian city states from 1290 onwards. Following the abolition of the Empire in 1806 the Thurn and Taxis postal system continued as a private organisation, continuing to exist into the postage stamp era before finally being absorbed into the postal system of the new German Empire after 1871.
In the United Kingdom, prior to 1840 the postal system was expensive, confusing and seen as corrupt. Letters were paid for by the recipient rather than the sender, and were charged according to the distance the letter had travelled and the number of sheets of paper it contained. If there is one man who can be said to have changed the face of the postal service forever it is Sir Rowland Hill, with his reforms of the postal system based on the concept of penny postage, and his solution of pre payment. In his proposal Hill also called for official pre-printed envelopes and adhesive postage stamps as alternative ways of getting the sender to pay for the postage, at a time when prepayment was optional, which led to the invention of the postage stamp, the Penny Black.
It was around this time nationalization and centralization of most postal systems took place. Today, the study of mail systems is known as postal history.
Modern transportation and technology
The postal system was important in the development of modern transportation. Railroads carried railway post offices. During the 20th century, air mail became the transport of choice for inter-continental mail. Postmen started to utilize mail trucks. The handling of mail became increasingly automated.
The Internet came to change the conditions for physical mail. E-mail (and in recent years social networking sites) became a fierce competitor, but online auctions and Internet shopping opened new business opportunities as people often get items bought online through the mail.
The word mail comes from the Medieval English word male (spelled that way until the 17th century, distinct from male), which was the term used to describe a traveling bag or pack. The French have a similar word, malle for a trunk or large box, and mála is the Irish for a bag. In the 17th century the word mail began to appear as a reference for a bag that contained letters: "bag full of letter" (1654). Over the next hundred years the word mail began to be applied strictly to the letters themselves, and the sack as the mailbag. In the 19th century the British usually referred to mail as being letters that were being sent abroad (i.e. on a ship), and post as letters that were for localized delivery; in the UK the Royal Mail delivers the post, while in the USA the US Postal Service delivers the mail. The term e-mail (short for "electronic mail") first appeared in 1982. The term snail-mail is a retronym that originated in 1983 to distinguish it from the quicker e-mail.
Modern mail is organized by national and privatized services, which are reciprocally interconnected by international regulations, organizations and international agreements. Paper letters and parcels can be sent to almost any country in the world relatively easily and cheaply. The Internet has made the process of sending letter-like messages nearly instantaneous, and in many cases and situations correspondents use electronic mail where previously they would have used letters (though the volume of paper mail continues to increase.)
Some countries have organized their mail services as public limited liability corporations without a legal monopoly.
The worldwide postal system comprising the individual national postal systems of the world's self-governing states is co-ordinated by the Universal Postal Union, which among other things sets international postage rates, defines standards for postage stamps and operates the system of International Reply Coupons.
In most countries a system of codes has been created (they are called ZIP Codes in the United States, postcodes in the United Kingdom and Australia, and postal codes in most other countries), in order to facilitate the automation of operations. This also includes placing additional marks on the address portion of the letter or mailed object, called "bar coding." Bar coding of mail for delivery is usually expressed either by a series of vertical bars, usually called POSTNET coding, or a block of dots as a two-dimensional barcode. The "block of dots" method allows for the encoding of proof of payment of postage, exact routing for delivery, and other features.
The ordinary mail service was improved in the 20th century with the use of planes for a quicker delivery. The world's first scheduled airmail post service took place in the United Kingdom between the London suburbs of Hendon, North London, and Windsor, Berkshire, on 9 September 1911. Some methods of airmail proved ineffective, however, including the United States Postal Service's experiment with rocket mail.
Receipts services were made available in order to grant the sender a confirmation of effective delivery.
Mail going to naval vessels is known as the Fleet Post Office.
Worldwide the most common method of prepaying postage is by buying an adhesive postage stamp to be applied to the envelope before mailing; a much less common method is to use a postage-prepaid envelope. Franking is a method of creating postage-prepaid envelopes under licence using a special machine. They are used by companies with large mail programs such as banks and direct mail companies.
In 1998, the U.S. Postal Service authorised the first tests of a secure system of sending digital franks via the Internet to be printed out on a PC printer, obviating the necessity to license a dedicated franking machine and allowing companies with smaller mail programs to make use of the option; this was later expanded to test the use of personalised postage. The service provided by the U.S. Postal Service in 2003 allows the franks to be printed out on special adhesive-backed labels.
In 2004 the Royal Mail in the United Kingdom introduced its SmartStamp Internet-based system, allowing printing on ordinary adhesive labels or envelopes. Similar systems are being considered by postal administrations around the world.
When the pre-paid envelope or package is accepted into the mail by an agent of the postal service, the agent usually indicates by means of a cancellation that it is no longer valid for pre-payment of postage. The exceptions are when the agent forgets or neglects to cancel the mailpiece, for stamps that are pre-cancelled and thus do not require cancellation and for, in most cases, metered mail. (The "personalised stamps" authorized by the USPS and manufactured by Zazzle and other companies are in fact a form of meter label and thus do not need to be cancelled.)
Rules and etiquette
Documents should generally not be read by anyone other than the addressee; for instance, in the United States it is a violation of federal law for anyone other than the addressee to open mail. There are exceptions though: executives often delegate to secretaries or assistants the task of dealing with their mail; and postcards do not require opening and can be read by anybody. For mail contained within an envelope, there are legal provisions in some jurisdictions allowing the recording identities[clarification needed]. The privacy of correspondence is guaranteed by the constitutions of Mexico and Brazil, and is alluded to in the European Convention of Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Subject to the laws in the relevant jurisdiction, correspondence may be openly or covertly opened, or the contents determined via some other method, by the police or other authorities in some cases relating to a suspected criminal conspiracy, although black chambers (largely in the past, though there is apparently some continuance of their use today) opened and open letters extralegally. Military mail to and from soldiers on active deployment is more often subject to strict censorship. International mail and packages are subject to customs control.
Control of private citizens' mail based on its content is a form of censorship and concerns social, political, and legal aspects of civil rights. There have been cases over the centuries of governments illegally opening and copying or photographing the contents of private mail. While in most cases this censorship is exceptional, in the military, censorship of mail is routine and almost universally applied, particularly with respect to soldiers near a battlefront.
Modern alternatives such as the telegraph, telephone, telex, facsimile, and e-mail have reduced the attractiveness of paper mail for many applications. These modern alternatives have some advantages: in addition to their speed, they may be more secure, e.g. because strangers cannot learn the sender's address from the envelope, and occasionally traditional items of mail may fail to arrive, e.g. due to vandalism to mailboxes, unfriendly pets and adverse weather conditions. On the other hand traditional mail avoids the possibility of computer malfunctions and malware, and the recipient does not need to print it out. Due to perceived hazards or inconveniences postal carriers may refuse, officially or otherwise, to deliver mail to a particular address (for instance, if there is no clear path to the door or mailbox). Postal mail is, however, still widely used for business and personal communications for various reasons including legal requirements for signatures, the requirements of, etiquette, and the requirement to enclose physical objects. For example, wedding invitations in some Western countries are customarily sent by mail.
Rise of electronic correspondence
Since the advent of e-mail, which is universally faster (barring some extreme technical glitch, computer virus or the like), the postal system has come to be referred to in Internet slang by the retronym "snail mail". Occasionally, the term "white mail" or "the PaperNet" has also been used as a neutral term for postal mail.
In modern times, mainly in the 20th century, mail has found an evolution in vehicles using newer technologies to deliver the documents, especially through the telephone network; these new vehicles include telegram, telex, facsimile (fax), e-mail, and short message service (SMS). There have been methods which have combined mail and some of these newer methods, such as INTELPOST, which combined facsimile transmission with overnight delivery. These vehicles commonly use a mechanical or electro-mechanical standardised writing (typing), that on the one hand makes for more efficient communication, while on the other hand makes impossible characteristics and practices that traditionally were in conventional mail, such as calligraphy.
This epoch is undoubtedly mainly dominated by mechanical writing, with a general use of no more of half a dozen standard typographic fonts from standard keyboards. However, the increased use of typewritten or computer-printed letters for personal communication and the advent of e-mail have sparked renewed interest in calligraphy, as a letter has become more of a "special event". Long before e-mail and computer-printed letters, however, decorated envelopes, rubber stamps and artistamps formed part of the medium of mail art.
In the 2000s with the advent of eBay and other online auction sites and online stores, postal services in industrialized nations have seen a major shift to item shipping. This has been seen as a boost to the system's usage in the wake of lower paper mail volume due to the accessibility of e-mail.
Online post offices have emerged to give recipients a means of receiving traditional correspondence mail in a scanned electronic format.
Postage stamps are also object of a particular form of collecting, and in some cases, when demand greatly exceeds supply, their commercial value on this specific market may become enormously greater than face value, even after use. For some postal services the sale of stamps to collectors who will never use them is a significant source of revenue for example postage stamps from Tokelau, South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands, Tristan da Cunha, Niuafo´ou and many others. Stamp collecting is commonly known as philately, although strictly the latter term refers to the study of stamps.
Another form of collecting regards postcards, a document written on a single robust sheet of paper, usually decorated with photographic pictures or artistic drawings on one of the sides, and short messages on a small part of the other side, that also contained the space for the address. In strict philatelic usage, the postcard is to be distinguished from the postal card, which has a pre-printed postage on the card. The fact that this communication is visible by other than the receiver often causes the messages to be written in jargon.
Letters are often studied as an example of literature, and also in biography in the case of a famous person. A portion of the New Testament of the Bible is composed of the Apostle Paul's epistles to Christian congregations in various parts of the Roman Empire. See below for a list of famous letters.
A style of writing, called epistolary, tells a fictional story in the form of the correspondence between two or more characters.
Several countries, including Sweden (1 January 1993), New Zealand (1998 and 2003), Germany (2005 and 2007) and Argentina have opened up the postal services market to new entrants. In the case of New Zealand Post Limited, this included (from 2003) its right to be the sole New Zealand postal administration member of the Universal Postal Union, thus the ending of its monopoly on stamps bearing the name New Zealand.
Types of mail
Letter-sized mail comprises the bulk of the contents sent through most postal services. These are usually documents printed on A4 (210×297 mm), Letter-sized (8.5×11 inches), or smaller paper and placed in envelopes.
While many things are sent through the mail, interpersonal letters are often thought of first in reference to postal systems. Handwritten correspondence, while once a major means of communications between distant people, is now used less frequently due to the advent of more immediate means of communication, such as the telephone or e-mail. Traditional letters, however, are often considered to harken back to a "simpler time" and are still used when someone wishes to be deliberate and thoughtful about his or her communication. An example would be a letter of sympathy to a bereaved person.
Bills and invoices are often sent through the mail, like regular billing correspondence from utility companies and other service providers. These letters often contain a self-addressed, envelope that allows the receiver to remit payment back to the company easily. While still very common, many people now opt to use online bill payment services, which eliminate the need to receive bills through the mail. Paperwork for the confirmation of large financial transactions is often sent through the mail. Many tax documents are as well.
New credit cards and their corresponding personal identification numbers are sent to their owners through the mail. The card and number are usually mailed separately several days or weeks apart for security reasons.
Bulk mail is mail that is prepared for bulk mailing, often by presorting, and processing at reduced rates. It is often used in direct marketing and other advertising mail, although it has other uses as well. The senders of these messages sometimes purchase lists of addresses (which are sometimes targeted towards certain demographics) and then send letters advertising their product or service to all recipients. Other times, commercial solicitations are sent by local companies advertising local products, like a restaurant delivery service advertising to their delivery area or a retail store sending their weekly advertising circular to a general area. Bulk mail is also often sent to companies' existing subscriber bases, advertising new products or services.
There are a number of other things almost without any exception sent exclusively as letters through postal services, like wedding invitations.
First-class mail in the U.S. includes postcards, letters, large envelopes (flats) and small packages, providing each piece weighs 13 ounces or less. Delivery is given priority over second-class (newspapers and magazines), third class (bulk advertisements), and fourth-class mail (books and media packages). First-class mail prices are based on both the shape and weight of the item being mailed. Pieces over 13 ounces can be sent as Priority Mail. In the U.K., First Class letters are simply a priority option over Second Class, at a slightly higher cost. Royal Mail aims to (but does not guarantee to) deliver all First Class letters the day after postage.
Registered and recorded mail
Registered mail allows the location and in particular the correct delivery of a letter to be tracked. It is usually considerably more expensive than regular mail, and is typically used for legal documents, to obtain a proof of delivery.
The United States Postal Service introduced a test allowing "repositionable notes" (for example, 3M's Post-it notes) to be attached to the outside of envelopes and bulk mailings, afterwards extending the test for an unspecified period.
Postal cards and postcards
Postal cards and postcards are small message cards which are sent by mail unenveloped; the distinction often, though not invariably and reliably, drawn between them is that "postal cards" are issued by the postal authority or entity with the "postal indica" (or "stamp") preprinted on them, while postcards are privately issued and require affixing an adhesive stamp (though there have been some cases of a postal authority's issuing non-stamped postcards). Postcards are often printed to promote tourism, with pictures of resorts, tourist attractions or humorous messages on the front and allowing for a short message from the sender to be written on the back. The postage required for postcards is generally less than postage required for standard letters; however, certain technicalities such as their being oversized or having cut-outs may result in payment of the first-class rate being required.
Postcards are also used by magazines for new subscriptions. Inside many magazines are postage-paid subscription cards that a reader can fill out and mail back to the publishing company to be billed for a subscription to the magazine. In this fashion, magazines also use postcards for other purposes, including reader surveys, contests or information requests.
Postcards are sometimes sent by charities to their members with a message to be signed and sent to a politician (e.g. to promote fair trade or third world debt cancellation).
Other mail services
Larger envelopes are also sent through the mail. These are often made of sturdier material than standard envelopes and are often used by businesses to transport documents that are not to be folded or damaged, such as legal documents and contracts. Due to their size, larger envelopes are sometimes charged additional postage.
Packages are often sent through some postal services, usually requiring additional postage than an average letter or postcard. Many postal services have limits on what can and cannot be sent inside packages, usually placing limits or bans on perishable, hazardous or flammable materials. Some hazardous materials in limited quantities may be shipped with appropriate markings and packaging, like an ORM-D label. Additionally, because of terrorism concerns, the U.S. Postal Service subjects their packages to various security tests, often scanning or x-raying packages for materials that might be found in mail bombs.
Newspapers and magazines are also sent through postal services. Many magazines are simply placed in the mail normally (but in the U.S., they are printed with a special bar code that acts as pre-paid postage - see POSTNET), but many are now shipped in shrinkwrap to protect the loose contents of the magazine. During the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century newspapers and magazines were normally posted using wrappers with a stamp imprint.
Hybrid mail, sometimes referred to as L-mail, is the electronic lodgement of mail from the mail generator’s computer directly to a Postal Service provider. The Postal Service provider is then able to use electronic means to have the mail piece sorted, routed and physically produced at a site closest to the delivery point. It is a type of mail growing in popularity with some Post Office operations and individual businesses venturing into this market. In some countries, these services are available to print and deliver emails to those unable to receive email, such as the elderly or infirm. Services provided by Hybrid mail providers are closely related to that of Mail forwarding service providers.
- List of postal entities
- ^ In Australia, Canada and the U.S., mail is commonly used both for the postal system and for letters, postcards and parcels; in New Zealand, post is more common for the postal system and mail for the material delivered; in the UK, post prevails in both senses. However, the British, American, Australian, and Canadian national postal services are called, respectively, Royal Mail, United States Postal Service, Australia Post, and Canada Post; in addition, such fixed phrases as post office or junk mail are found throughout the English-speaking world.
- ^ "From Cyrus to Alexander; a History of the Persian Empire" by Pierre Briant - http://avaxhome.ws/ebooks/history_military/available_sources.html
- ^ Herodotus, Herodotus, trans. A.D. Godley, vol. 4, book 8, verse 98, pp. 96–97 (1924).
- ^  First Issues Collectors Club (retrieved 25 September)
- ^ Dorn 2006: 145
- ^ Prasad 2003: 104
- ^ Mazumdar 1990: 1
- ^ Aiyangar 2004: 302
- ^ Peabody 2003: 71
- ^ Lowe 1951: 134
- ^ a b Mote 1978: 450
- ^ The British Postal Museum & Archive — Rowland Hill’s Postal Reforms
- ^ "mail, n.2". Dictionary.com (Unabridged (v 1.1) ed.). 2007. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/mail.
- ^ Direct Marketing Association article (registration required)
- ^ Baldwin, N.C. (1960), p. 5, Fifty Years of British Air Mails, Francis J.Field Ltd.
- ^ "United States Code: Title 18, 1702. Obstruction of correspondence". Legal Information Institute of Cornell University Law School. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/1702.html. Retrieved September 14, 2010.
- ^ a b c Back when spies played by the rules, Deccan Herald, January 17, 2006. Retrieved 29 Dec 2006.
- ^ Article 8(1): Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. PDF (179 KB)
- ^ CIA Intelligence Collection About Americans (400 KB download)
- ^ City Mail, Sweden
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- ^ "First-Class Mail". USPS. http://www.usps.com/send/waystosendmail/senditwithintheus/firstclassmail.htm. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
- ^ "Postal Service Helps Businesses "Stick" to their Message". 2005-04-05. http://www.usps.com/communications/news/press/2005/pr05_028.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-17.
- ^ "Marketing 'Notes' Extended for Additional Year: U.S. Postal Service Governors Issue Decision on Repositionable Notes". 2007-07-06. http://www.usps.com/communications/newsroom/2007/pr07_055.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-17.
- ^ "Cut-Out Postcard - Postage Due". Members.aol.com. http://members.aol.com/raustin13/modernph/pc14due.html. Retrieved 2008-10-24.
- Peabody, Norman (2003). Hindu Kingship and Polity in Precolonial India. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521465486.
- Dorn, Harold; MacClellan, James E. (2006). Science and Technology in World History: An Introduction. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801883598.
- Aiyangar, Sakkottai Krishnaswami; S. Krishnaswami A. (2004). Ancient India: Collected Essays on the Literary and Political History of Southern India. Asian Educational Services. ISBN 0801883598.
- Prasad, Prakash Chandra (2003). Foreign Trade and Commerce in Ancient India. Abhinav Publications. ISBN 8170170532.
- Lowe, Robson (1951). Encyclopedia of British Empire Postage Stamps (v. III). London.
- Mazumdar, Mohini Lal (1990). The Imperial Post Offices of British India. Calcutta: Phila Publications.
- Mote, Frederick W.; John K. Fairbank (1998). The Cambridge History of China. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521243335.
- A Hundred Years by Post by J. Wilson Hyde
- Potts, Albert, "US19,578 (First U.S. street mailbox patent)". US patent office. 1858
- GRC Database Information: links to worldwide postal services websites
- The British Postal Museum & Archive
- Royal Engineers Museum British Army Postal Services History
- James Meek, London Review of Books, 28 April 2011, In the Sorting Office, 33(9)
- US National Postal Museum, a part of the Smithsonian Institution
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