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A History Of Postal Couriers

Remember This One by Elvis Presley ??  

“I Gave a Letter to the Postman", (Return to Sender).
Well, Elvis was having his problems, and so were Letter Carriers and just about everyone else in the early 1800’s.

How I Stumbled and Fumbled on this one.
Upon review of some early Stampless Covers and Posted Mail, I had no idea of markings meant like “Paid 9” or red waxed seals, or other markings on those very old envelopes.  

However, the main thing that came to mind was Who, and How, was mail delivered.

So a little research was needed.
Now before I go on. I am not an expert on any of this Postal History stuff.  So I am likely to make errors on how I interpret my readings.

MJR’s official position is, “if I mess I confess”.
The Story.

Competition was fierce in the early 1800’s, as couriers of mail were at battle with each other to make a profit. 

All walks of life were involved, including family members, friends, the guy next door or Letter Courier businesses.

I think even “pigeons” were grasping for the business.. 😃😃😃 
With the exception of ROYAL MAIL, it was chaotic. 

Letters and packages went missing, applicable fees were not paid, delivery carriers were frustrated, legislated rates were not in place, and of course many mail customers were not pleased.

As well, the mail was  “Return to Sender.”

So then what?
Now another factor that caused disruption, was that the recipient of the mail had to pay the Letter Carrier a fee for delivery. 
OK! OK!        

So, let’s say this letter was being sent by Elvis, to his girlfriend.  

She glances at it, her cheeks turn red and she fires back at the letter carrier, “I don’t want it, or pay for it Return To Sender”.

Of course Elvis would be heartbroken. 

But what does the Letter Carrier do?

No Receivable !! 

Perhaps an 18 mile trip to the carriers post. 

And then what? 
There are also more Mail Delivery Problems on.  
1. Mail Delivery On Foot. 

How far do you go? The general rule was the “further you go”, the more fees you pay.  Apparently 18 miles one way and 18 miles back was common. How heavy was the mail bag? I don’t know. 
2. Mail Delivery On Horseback.

Even quicker and you can go further, but trails are rough, horses need care and the competition between curriers is fierce. Although. the Saddle bags are full for the Pony Express riders.
3. Mail Delivery By Stagecoach.

Even better, as per the amount of mail you could carry on a stagecoach. But operating costs go up, drivers require payment, robberies are evident and roads need to be built.
NEXT WEEK.... The Solution to the Mail Delivery Problems.

Take care,

John Bucci

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