Post.BOX Facts

  • Philately is the collection and study of postage or revenue stamps.
  • Self-seal envelopes use two latex strips that only adhere to themselves to seal the envelope.
  • The oldest existing philatelic society is the Royal Philatelic Society Of London, which was founded on 10th April 1869.
  • The first self-adhesive stamps were issued by Sierra Leone on 10th February 1964.
  • The US Postal Service handles over 44% of the world’s card and letter mail volume.
  • FedEx has a fleet of 643 aircraft and over 43 000 vehicles worldwide.
  • Tonga, an island nation in the Pacific, once issued a stamp shaped like a banana.

  • The world’s largest post office is the head post office in Chicago, Illinois.
  • The city of Liège, Belgium attempted to employ 37 cats as mail carriers in the 1870s. Messages were tucked in waterproof bags that the cats would carry around their necks. However, the speed of delivery would be inconsistent, and many cats took up to a day to get to their destination. The service did not last long for this reason.

  • In 2005, the US Postal Service delivered over 100 billion pieces of junk mail: over 75 times the overall population of China.
  • Stamps have been used worldwide since 1850.
  • In the United States alone, the miles driven by FedEx vehicles adds up to over 2.7 million!
  • About one billion stamps are produced in Australia every year and about 1.3 million Australians collect them.
  • In 1693, letters were held in front of a candle to determine the postage rate: the less light shone through the more costly the rate. This was known as candling.
  • The world’s smallest post office is located in Ochopee, Florida, and is little more than a shack.

  • The first person, who wasn’t a head of state, to appear on a stamp was Benjamin Franklin on a US$0.10 stamp in 1847.
  • The world’s rarest, and most valuable stamp is the 1c British Guiana of 1856. It is valued at more than US$1 million.
  • Brazil was the first country in South or North America to introduce stamps. In 1843 it was the second country, after the United Kingdom, to issue stamps.
  • A deltiologist is a person who collects picture postcards.

What is a Franking machine?

A Franking machine is a mechanical device used to create and apply physical evidence of postage to mailed items. A Franking machine imprints an amount of postage, functioning as a postage stamp, a cancellation and a dated postmark all in one. The meter stamp serves as proof of payment and eliminates the need for adhesive stamps.

Since the issuance of adhesive stamps in 1840, postal officials have been concerned about security against stamp theft and how to process mail in a timely fashion. A young Chicago inventor, Arthur Pitney, obtained his first mailing system patent in 1902. Shortly after, he formed the Pitney Postal Machine Company, which became the American Postage Meter Company in 1912. Pitney’s first machine consisted of a manual crank, chain action, printing die, counter, and lockout device.

Pitney’s company (and its various partners) directly rivalled Edwards Franks’ Franking Company of America which was founded in 1911. Franks’ company manufactured and distributed a machine much like the one Franks had presented in 1886 at the Worlds Fair. However, the machinations had been streamlined and controls simplified for ease of use.

In 1919, Pitney joined forces with Walter Bowes, an entrepreneur who had achieved prominence in postal circles through his company, the Universal Stamping Machine Company, which manufactured post office cancelling machines. In 1920, the two companies merged to create the Pitney-Bowes Postage Meter Company. In 1926, PBPM Co. (as it was then known) merged with Edward Franks’ Franking Company of America and was consolidated and renamed as the Franks Universal Postage Company.

Stamp Collecting has Never Been So Easy

by Bob Benson (Founder of Stamp Collecting Online)

Collecting stamps has been a popular pastime ever since there were stamps to collect. Collecting stamps has never been easier and collecting isn’t just for the grey-haired gentleman who spends his days poring over his stamps.

When collecting stamps it’s important to have at least some definition of what you’re hoping to achieve. Some people collect only historical stamps. That is, they’re only looking for the old, rare stamps that are highly sought after and prized by collectors. This is a noble goal, but probably not much fun for those without the finances to make those rare purchases. If you’re simply looking for a great hobby start searching for unusual stamps or collect stamps postmarked in other states and/or countries.

Take a look at some of these ideas that can help you get your stamp collection off to a good start, or give your current collection a real boost.

Don’t keep your stamp collection a secret. While Great-Aunt Margie isn’t likely to want to sit down and hear the history of every stamp in your collection, letting her know that you’re a stamp collector could be the best move you’ve ever made. She may have a stash of letters in her attic from that special beau who wrote to her from Europe during World War I! Or she may have the letters her grandmother sent back home during her trek across the country in a covered wagon. And she just may remember to mail you a postcard from her next trip to a foreign country. The most unlikely people may be the ones to help you expand your collection, so let family and friends know that you’re collecting stamps.

The Internet can be a very useful tool for those collecting stamps. All you really need to do is find an online forum for stamp collecting and start trading stamps with others creating collections similar to yours. In most cases, you’ll be able to send a letter and the recipient will send one back to you, instantly adding stamps to your collection. Because this is a relatively inexpensive request you may also get people to send you stamps who aren’t looking for a return letter.

Another idea for collecting stamps that works well for youngsters is to simply be looking for those unusual, strange or “cool” stamps. Your post office will likely have a good selection and you can let your child help you choose each time you need a new book of stamps. Take one off to add to the collection and see how many great stamps are available. Don’t forget that the postal service will also let you create your own stamps with photos you upload to their website!

Collecting stamps can be a great way to connect with your child, and can create a hobby that will span a lifetime.

How to Keep Your Postal Mail Private and Secure

Surreptitious opening of most envelopes sent through the mail takes little effort and only minimal skill. Instructions are readily available on the Internet and in books.

While your mail is in the hands of the postal service it is relatively secure from outside snooping but readily available to postal employees and the alphabet soup of government agencies that may, for whatever reason, take an interest in your private correspondence. If your mail is delivered to your home, perhaps to a box at the end of your driveway, someone can easily remove your mail before you do, unless you are waiting when the postman delivers it.

Let me ask you this: if a private investigator or neighbourhood snoop removed private letters from your mailbox, carefully opened them, recorded the contents, and then resealed them and returned them to your mailbox, would you know it?

If you received a letter in the mail on Wednesday instead of Tuesday, would you be aware that it had been missing that day?


How Government Keeps Their Mail Private

When government agencies send sensitive material, they double-wrap it to prevent its surreptitious opening. The government procedure is to place the sensitive material in an envelope, seal all seams and edges with tape, and record appropriate addresses and security markings on the envelope.

This envelope is then placed into a second envelope, which then has all edges and seams sealed with tape. The outer envelope is addressed, but there are no security markings recorded on it. This is effective, but the outer envelope with all edges and seams sealed with tape stands out from ordinary mail.


How You Should Keep Your Mail Private

For security of personal correspondence I recommend double-wrapping your private letters, but with a bit of a change. Instead of sealing just the edges of the inner envelope, I use clear sealing tape or clear packing tape.

Cut a length of tape twice the length of your inner envelope. Place the tape on a table, adhesive side up. You may need two strips of sealing/packing tape to cover the entire width of the envelope (I was able to obtain 4-inch-wide (10 cm) packing tape, which works well for the smaller 3 5/8×6 inch (9×15 cm) personal correspondence envelopes, from a local moving company).

Now, after sealing your envelope, place it on the adhesive portion of the tape and fold the tape around the envelope so that it covers all surfaces. Leave a slight edge of tape around the envelope so that you can have an adhesive-to-adhesive seal. This type of seal, covering all surfaces of the envelope, is damn near impossible to get into surreptitiously.

Place the sealed envelope in another envelope and seal and address it normally.
The outer envelope doesn’t stand out from other letters, but your private correspondence sealed inside is protected from snoops.

Even the old tricks of using chemical sprays to make the envelope momentarily transparent won’t work because the inner envelope is completely wrapped in tape and therefore impenetrable by these sprays.

Post.Box Links

AFDCS (American First Day Covers)
American Philitaletic Society
Australia Post
BFDC (British First Day Covers)
Canada Post
DHL (Dalsey, Hillblom, Lynn)
Eric Jackson Revenue Stamps
ISS Shipping (Inchcape Shipping Services)
Japanese Postal Service
Mauritius Classic Stamps
Royal Mail
Royal Philatelic Society
SA Post Office
Taiwan Post
UPS (United Parcel Service)
USPS (United States Postal Service)

Postal Museums

Smithsonian National

What is a First Day Cover?

A first day cover is an envelope, or postcard, on which the postage stamps have been cancelled on their first day of issue (the day they were initially available for purchase). The stamps bear a postmark indicating the city and date on which they were first issued. The area of issue is distinctly limited to one or several cities; eventually, they are released on a wider scale nationwide.

Special occasions or events can be commemorated by a first day cover. This type is referred to as an event cover. They feature a cachet — a design on the left side of the envelope — describing the event, for example, the launch of a space shuttle or an auspicious wedding or anniversary.

First day covers can be bought from the post offices of the city of issue and event covers at the location where the event is held. For past events and older first day covers, collectors should find other collectors or societies that might offer items from their collection. There are also a variety of websites that sell first day covers.

What’s The Difference Between A Penny Black And A Penny Red?

The Penny Black was the first official adhesive stamp released, the Penny red its successor. It was issued in Bath, UK on 1st May 1840. Created by Rowland Hill, the stamp was a major component of Hill’s proposed revision of the British postal system, which would standardise postage charges. Charges were previously applied according to the number of sheets being delivered as well as the distance to the destination. It features a picture of Queen Victoria on a black background.

In 1841 the Penny Red replaced the Penny Black. Initially, the only difference between the two was the background, which was now red for the Penny Red. Then the edges of each individual stamp were perforated. This made it easier to remove a stamp from the sheets of stamps. Previously they would have to be cut off with scissors.