Postal history

Postal history is the study of postal systems and how they operate and, or, the study of postage stamp
Postage stamp
A postage stamp is a small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage. Typically, stamps are made from special paper, with a national designation and denomination on the face, and a gum adhesive on the reverse side...

s and covers
Cover (philately)
In philately, the term cover pertains to the outside of an envelope or package with an address, typically with postage stamps that have been cancelled and is a term generally used among stamp and postal history collectors. The term does not include the contents of the letter or package, although...

 and associated material illustrating historical episodes of postal systems. The term is attributed to Robson Lowe
Robson Lowe
John Harry Robson Lowe , Robbie to his friends, was an English professional philatelist, stamp dealer and stamp auctioneer.- Life and career :...

, a professional philatelist
Philately is the study of stamps and postal history and other related items. Philately involves more than just stamp collecting, which does not necessarily involve the study of stamps. It is possible to be a philatelist without owning any stamps...

, stamp dealer
Stamp dealer
A stamp dealer is a company or an individual who deals in postage stamps and philatelic products. It also includes individuals who sell postage stamps for day to day use or official stamps for use on court documents.-Stamps on Approval Basis:...

 and stamp auctioneer, who made the first organised study of the subject in the 1930s and described philatelists as "students of science", but postal historians as "students of humanity".

A collecting speciality

Postal history has become a philatelic collecting speciality in its own right. Whereas philately is concerned with the study of the stamps per se, including the technical aspects of stamp production and distribution, philatelic postal history refers to stamps as historical documents; similarly re postmarks, postcard
A postcard or post card is a rectangular piece of thick paper or thin cardboard intended for writing and mailing without an envelope....

s, envelopes and the letters they contain. Postal history can include the study of postal rates, postal policy, postal administration, political effects on postal systems, postal surveillance and the consequences of politics, business, and culture on postal systems; basically anything to do with the function of the collection, transportation and delivery of mail
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...

. The specialized area of philatelic history defines postal history as the study of rates charged, routes followed and special handling of letters. Areas of special interest include disrupted or transitional periods, such as wars and military occupations, and mail to remote areas.

The philatelic-based definition of the term developed as the discipline developed. Philatelic students discovered that understanding and authentication of stamps depended on knowing why postal authorities issued particular stamps, where they were used and how. For instance, a stamp apparently used before any other stamp of its type could be proved a forgery
Philatelic fakes and forgeries
In general, philatelic fakes and forgeries refers to labels that look like postage stamps but are not. Most have been produced to deceive or defraud...

 if it was postmark
thumb|USS TexasA postmark is a postal marking made on a letter, package, postcard or the like indicating the date and time that the item was delivered into the care of the postal service...

ed at a location known not to have received any stamps until a later date.

Much information is still not known about the workings of postal systems, and millions of old covers have survived, constituting a rich field of "artifact
Artifact (archaeology)
An artifact or artefact is "something made or given shape by man, such as a tool or a work of art, esp an object of archaeological interest"...

s" for analysis.

Possible areas of study

In studying or collecting any postal history subject some overlap is inevitable because it is impossible to separate the different areas that affect the mail from one another; transportation, rates, geography and subject are all intertwined, but the emphasis remains different depending on the chosen topic. The postal history topics described below are some of the better known and popular topics.

Geographical based studies

  • Regional studies are typically based on a geographical area, such as countries of origin, native districts, cities, towns or villages, places associated with family roots, or workplaces. In the past collectors usually based their studies on "mail from," but "mail to" and "mail through" a place expand the postal service story because outgoing mail mainly shows marking associated with the areas of study while incoming mail tells a much broader story and are now more likely to be included. It is best to select a topic to study that is broad enough because narrow geographical boundaries will likely bring frustration due to the lack of material available. Examples are: Postal History of Brunn
    Brunn or Brünn may refer to:Places* Brünn, the German form of the Czech city Brno* Brunn, Upper Palatinate, a town in Bavaria, Germany* Brunn, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, a municipality in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany...

     1638-1875, and Private and Foreign Post Offices in St. Thomas
    Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
    Saint Thomas is an island in the Caribbean Sea and with the islands of Saint John, Saint Croix, and Water Island a county and constituent district of the United States Virgin Islands , an unincorporated territory of the United States. Located on the island is the territorial capital and port of...


  • Postal routes are alternate geographical based study areas that provide great variety due to the many places and services available along a route. For instance; a study of the Thurn and Taxis route from Antwerp to Florence
    Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

     via Mantua
    Mantua is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy and capital of the province of the same name. Mantua's historic power and influence under the Gonzaga family, made it one of the main artistic, cultural and notably musical hubs of Northern Italy and the country as a whole...

     would include much of the early postal history of Western Europe and the Postal History of the First Transcontinental Railroad can show a good range of stamps, stationery
    Postal stationery
    A piece of postal stationery is a stationery item, such as a stamped envelope, letter sheet, postal card, lettercard, aerogram or wrapper, with an imprinted stamp or inscription indicating that a specific rate of postage or related service has been prepaid...

    , and associated marking across 3,000 miles that started in 1869.

The era
An era is a commonly used word for long period of time. When used in science, for example geology, eras denote clearly defined periods of time of arbitrary but well defined length, such as for example the Mesozoic era from 252 Ma–66 Ma, delimited by a start event and an end event. When used in...

 for a geographical based study can add dimension depending on the services available or the changes that took place. The period should seek to tell a complete story and not limit the chosen topic.

Transportation based studies

  • Aerophilately
    Aerophilately is the branch of philately that specializes in the study of airmail. Philatelists have observed the development of mail transport by air from its beginning, and all aspects of airmail service have been extensively studied and documented by specialists.- Scope :The scope of...

     specialises in the study of airmail
    Airmail is mail that is transported by aircraft. It typically arrives more quickly than surface mail, and usually costs more to send...

    . Philatelists observe the development of mail
    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...

     transport by air from its beginning, and most aspects of airmail service have been extensively studied and documented by specialists, some of which are individually listed. Crash cover
    Crash cover
    A crash cover is a philatelic term for a type of cover, meaning an envelope or package that has been recovered from a fixed-wing aircraft, airship or aeroplane crash, train wreck, shipwreck or other accident...

    s, Imperial Airways
    Imperial Airways
    Imperial Airways was the early British commercial long range air transport company, operating from 1924 to 1939 and serving parts of Europe but especially the Empire routes to South Africa, India and the Far East...

     Empire route mail to Australia
    Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

     and South Africa
    South Africa
    The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

    , CAM (Contract Air Mail) or FAM (Foreign Air Mail) routes to and from the United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

     are a few topics.
  • Balloon mail
    Balloon mail
    Balloon mail refers to the transport of mail carrying the name of the sender by means of an unguided hydrogen or helium filled balloon. Since the balloon is not controllable, the delivery of a balloon mail is left to good fortune; often the balloon and postcard are lost...

     was employed during the Siege of Paris
    Siege of Paris
    The Siege of Paris, lasting from September 19, 1870 – January 28, 1871, and the consequent capture of the city by Prussian forces led to French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and the establishment of the German Empire as well as the Paris Commune....

     to get mail out of the city during the Franco-Prussian War
    Franco-Prussian War
    The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

     in 1870. Balloons can be both manned and unmanned but balloon mail is not a common form of mail transport.
  • Maritime mail
    Ship cover
    In philately, a ship cover is a cover that was mailed aboard a ship, while a naval cover is one posted on a navy vessel. Shipboard postal facilities are ubiquitous on ships of any size, although the "post office" may consist only of an alcove and a sailor working it part-time.Ship covers usually...

     is a theme that offers a wide variety of possibilities. Study of a particular shipping line
    Shipping line
    -History of shipping lines:Large-scale shipping lines became widespread in the nineteenth century, after the development of the steamship in 1783. At first, Great Britain was the centr of development; in 1819, the first steamship crossing of the Atlantic Ocean took place and by 1833, shipping lines...

     like, Cunard
    Cunard Line
    Cunard Line is a British-American owned shipping company based at Carnival House in Southampton, England and operated by Carnival UK. It has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic for over a century...

    , P & O, Danube
    The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

     steamers, South American packets or American steamboat
    A steamboat or steamship, sometimes called a steamer, is a ship in which the primary method of propulsion is steam power, typically driving propellers or paddlewheels...

     mail are a few options as are; Ship Letter marks, mail between a mother country and its colonies or mail between two countries separated by seas or oceans. Many ships applied their own endorsement
    Endorsement may refer to:*Testimonial in advertising, written or spoken statement endorsing a product*Political endorsement*a form added to an insurance policy, modifying the terms...

    s so collecting examples of all ships of a particular shipping line can be aspired to. Maiden voyage
    Maiden voyage
    The maiden voyage of a ship, aircraft or other craft is the first journey made by the craft after shakedown. A number of traditions and superstitions are associated with it....

    s and wreck cover
    A shipwreck is what remains of a ship that has wrecked, either sunk or beached. Whatever the cause, a sunken ship or a wrecked ship is a physical example of the event: this explains why the two concepts are often overlapping in English....

    s are very desirable. Maritime
    Ship transport
    Ship transport is watercraft carrying people or goods . Sea transport has been the largest carrier of freight throughout recorded history. Although the importance of sea travel for passengers has decreased due to aviation, it is effective for short trips and pleasure cruises...

     mail rates changed frequently and occasionally varied for different shipping lines over the same route that could be due to treaty
    A treaty is an express agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an agreement, protocol, covenant, convention or exchange of letters, among other terms...

     changes or arguments between countries that involved retaliatory rates. Naval
    A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake- or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions...

     mail can also fall in the Military mail category and are also known to apply identifying endorsements or postmark
    thumb|USS TexasA postmark is a postal marking made on a letter, package, postcard or the like indicating the date and time that the item was delivered into the care of the postal service...

  • Railway mail refers to mail carried partly, or fully, by rail transport
    Rail transport
    Rail transport is a means of conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles merely run on a prepared surface, rail vehicles are also directionally guided by the tracks they run on...

     from its inception in 1830 between Liverpool and Manchester in the UK
    United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

     until its decline in the late 20th century that include Railway letter stamped mail, TPO
    Travelling Post Office
    A Travelling Post Office was a type of mail train in the UK where the post was sorted en-route. The last Travelling Post Office services were ended on 9 January 2004, with the carriages used now sold for scrap or to preservation societies....

     and RPO
    Railway post office
    In the United States a railway post office, commonly abbreviated as RPO, was a railroad car that was normally operated in passenger service as a means to sort mail en route, in order to speed delivery. The RPO was staffed by highly trained Railway Mail Service postal clerks, and was off-limits to...

     handstamps, instructional handstamps or manuscript notations, or even the First Transcontinental Railroad
    First Transcontinental Railroad
    The First Transcontinental Railroad was a railroad line built in the United States of America between 1863 and 1869 by the Central Pacific Railroad of California and the Union Pacific Railroad that connected its statutory Eastern terminus at Council Bluffs, Iowa/Omaha, Nebraska The First...

     (also mentioned as a geographic study above).
  • Rocket mail
    Rocket mail
    Rocket mail is the delivery of mail by rocket or missile. The rocket would land by deploying an internal parachute upon arrival. It has been attempted by various organizations in many different countries, with varying levels of success...

     is the delivery of mail by rocket
    A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

     or missile
    Though a missile may be any thrown or launched object, it colloquially almost always refers to a self-propelled guided weapon system.-Etymology:The word missile comes from the Latin verb mittere, meaning "to send"...

     and is a specialised collecting area of aerophilately called Astrophilately
    Astrophilately is the area of philately connected with astronomy and efforts to reach outer space, both manned and unmanned.- Scope :Topics of interest include postage stamps, cancellations, and covers connected to various projects...

    . One of the early famous rocketeers was Stephen Smith
    Stephen Hector Taylor-Smith
    Stephen Hector Taylor-Smith often known as Stephen Smith, was a pioneering Indian rocket scientist who developed techniques in delivering mail by rocket. He was the most innovative of the early rocket pioneers...

    , a Secretary of the Indian Airmail Society, who launched 270 rockets between 1934 and 1944 of which 80 contained mail. Other topics for consideration are: USPS
    United States Postal Service
    The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

     rocket mail from 1936 or 1959 launches, Russian submarine launched rocket mail, or reusable launch vehicle mail.
  • Zeppelin mail
    Zeppelin mail
    Zeppelin mail was mail carried on zeppelins, the German airships that saw civilian use from 1908 to 1939. Almost every zeppelin flight carried mail, sometimes in large quantities; the covers usually received special postmarks, and a number of nations issued postage stamps specifically intended for...

     is a popular topic for the mail carried on the German
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

    A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship pioneered by the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century. It was based on designs he had outlined in 1874 and detailed in 1893. His plans were reviewed by committee in 1894 and patented in the United States on 14 March 1899...

    An airship or dirigible is a type of aerostat or "lighter-than-air aircraft" that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudders and propellers or other thrust mechanisms...

    s between 1908 and 1939. Much mail exists because up to 12 tons was carried on each flight. Mail from within Germany and from the several trans-Atlantic flights are extant however mail from the famous Hindenburg disaster
    Hindenburg disaster
    The Hindenburg disaster took place on Thursday, May 6, 1937, as the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, which is located adjacent to the borough of Lakehurst, New Jersey...

     are very scarce.

Subject based studies

  • Express mail
    Express mail
    In most postal systems express mail refers to an accelerated delivery service for which the customer pays a surcharge and receives faster delivery. Express mail is a service for domestic mail and is governed by a country's own postal administration...

     is an accelerated delivery service for which the customer pays a surcharge and receives faster delivery. Haste Poste Haste letters of the 17th century can be considered precursors of modern Express mail as was the Pony Express
    Pony Express
    The Pony Express was a fast mail service crossing the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, and the High Sierra from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, from April 3, 1860 to October 1861...

     mail. The service for domestic mail is governed by a country's own postal administration but since 1998 the international accelerated delivery services are governed by the EMS Cooperative of the Universal Postal Union
    Universal Postal Union
    The Universal Postal Union is an international organization that coordinates postal policies among member nations, in addition to the worldwide postal system. The UPU contains four bodies consisting of the Congress, the Council of Administration , the Postal Operations Council and the...

     (UPU). Studies of domestic, or international express mail are possible as are studies of the Express mail rates.
  • Marcophily
    Marcophily, occasionally called Marcophilately, is the specialised study and collection of postmarks, cancellations and postal markings applied by hand or machine on mail that passes through a postal system and applied by the postal operator through whose domain they pass...

     is the study of postmark
    thumb|USS TexasA postmark is a postal marking made on a letter, package, postcard or the like indicating the date and time that the item was delivered into the care of the postal service...

    s, cancellation and postal markings applied by hand or machine. Though not strictly speaking a postal history topic can be collected as such. It offers vast areas to select a topic for study or collection as the marcopholist is more interested in the details, style and design of the markings than the reason why and where a letter was sent. Large cities that have many post office
    Post office
    A post office is a facility forming part of a postal system for the posting, receipt, sorting, handling, transmission or delivery of mail.Post offices offer mail-related services such as post office boxes, postage and packaging supplies...

    s offer great study opportunities due to the vast range of handstamps or machine cancellations in use over any time period.
  • Military mail
    Military mail
    A primary feature of military mail systems is that normally they are subsidized to ensure that military mail posted between duty stations abroad and the home country does not cost the sender any more than normal domestic mail traffic...

     is mail associated with any of the armed services
    Armed Services
    Armed Services is a collective term that refers to the major organisational entities of national armed forces, so named because they service a combat need in a specific combat environment. In most states Armed Services include the Army also known as Land Force or Ground Force, Navy also know a...

     or peacekeeping
    History of United Nations Peacekeeping
    The History of United Nations Peacekeeping began in 1948. Its first mission was to the Middle East to observe and maintain the ceasefire during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Since then, United Nations peacekeepers have taken part in a total of 63 missions across the globe, 17 of which continue today...

     forces, or formed around any particular military campaign
    Military campaign
    In the military sciences, the term military campaign applies to large scale, long duration, significant military strategy plan incorporating a series of inter-related military operations or battles forming a distinct part of a larger conflict often called a war...

    , like the First
    First Opium War
    The First Anglo-Chinese War , known popularly as the First Opium War or simply the Opium War, was fought between the United Kingdom and the Qing Dynasty of China over their conflicting viewpoints on diplomatic relations, trade, and the administration of justice...

     and Second Opium War
    Second Opium War
    The Second Opium War, the Second Anglo-Chinese War, the Second China War, the Arrow War, or the Anglo-French expedition to China, was a war pitting the British Empire and the Second French Empire against the Qing Dynasty of China, lasting from 1856 to 1860...

    s, Spanish Civil War
    Spanish Civil War
    The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

    , World War I
    World War I
    World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

     and II, or even the recent conflicts in Afghanistan
    Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

     or Iraq
    Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

    . Many older letters, when available, provide insight into the conditions of the people involved.
  • Parcel post
    Parcel post
    Parcel post is a service of a postal administration for sending parcels through the post. It is generally one of the less expensive ways to ship packages that are too heavy to be sent by regular letter post and is usually a slower method of transportation....

     is perhaps the least collected, or studied, area of postal history due to the size of potential material much of which is never saved. From 1883 Special labels were applied to parcels in Great Britain. International parcels handling tend to gather Customs
    Customs is an authority or agency in a country responsible for collecting and safeguarding customs duties and for controlling the flow of goods including animals, transports, personal effects and hazardous items in and out of a country...

     evidence making for attractive material.
  • Postal censorship
    Postal censorship
    Postal censorship is the inspection or examination of mail, most often by governments. It can include opening, reading and total or selective obliteration of letters and their contents, as well as covers, postcards, parcels and other postal packets. Postal censorship takes place primarily but not...

    , both overt and covert, has been performed on mail long before the World Wars of the 20th century and can include both civil and military censorship. It has mainly taken place during times of conflict though has also been performed during other times like; periods of civil disorder
    Civil disorder
    Civil disorder, also known as civil unrest or civil strife, is a broad term that is typically used by law enforcement to describe one or more forms of disturbance caused by a group of people. Civil disturbance is typically a symptom of, and a form of protest against, major socio-political problems;...

     or a state of emergency
    State of emergency
    A state of emergency is a governmental declaration that may suspend some normal functions of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, alert citizens to change their normal behaviours, or order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans. It can also be used as a rationale...

    . An example of covert postal censorship is the Cabinet noir
    Black room
    While a black room or black chamber is often now used to refer to any place or organisation dedicated to code-breaking, its more exact meaning is a secret room in a post office, and, later and by extension, a telecommunications center used by state officials to conduct clandestine interception and...

  • Postal rates are an extensive area of study that can be made by country, time period, or even currency. Stamp collectors
    Stamp collecting
    Stamp collecting is the collecting of postage stamps and related objects. It is one of the world's most popular hobbies, with the number of collectors in the United States alone estimated to be over 20 million.- Collecting :...

     may study the rates in effect during the time of issue of the postage stamps they collect thereby augmenting their collections.
  • Postal stationery
    Postal stationery
    A piece of postal stationery is a stationery item, such as a stamped envelope, letter sheet, postal card, lettercard, aerogram or wrapper, with an imprinted stamp or inscription indicating that a specific rate of postage or related service has been prepaid...

     are mailable products, issued by postal authorities, such as a envelope
    An envelope is a common packaging item, usually made of thin flat material. It is designed to contain a flat object, such as a letter or card....

    s, letter sheet
    Letter sheet
    In philatelic terminology a Letter sheet, often written lettersheet, is nowadays an item of postal stationery issued by a postal authority. It is a sheet of paper that can be folded, usually sealed , and mailed without the use of an envelope...

    s, post cards, lettercard
    In philately a lettercard or letter card is a postal stationery item consisting of a folded card with a prepaid imprinted stamp. The fact that it is folded over gives the writer twice as much room for the message compared with a postal card. The message is written on the inside and the card is...

    s, aerogram
    An Aerogram, Aérogramme or Air Letter is a thin lightweight piece of foldable and gummed paper for writing a letter for transit via airmail, in which the letter and envelope are one and the same. Most postal administrations forbid enclosures in these light letters, which are usually sent abroad at...

    s or wrappers
    Wrapper (philately)
    In philately a wrapper is a form of postal stationery which pays the cost of the delivery of a newspaper or a periodical. The wrapper is a sheet of paper, large enough to wrap around a folded or rolled newspaper and with an imprinted stamp to pay the cost of postage...

    , on which the amount of postage has usually been pre-printed with an imprinted stamp
    Imprinted stamp
    In philately an imprinted stamp is a stamp printed on to a piece of postal stationery such as a stamped envelope, postal card, letter sheet, letter card, aerogram or wrapper. The printing is flat upon the surface of the paper, as opposed to an embossed stamp which has a raised relief...

     or indicium, at the rate required for a particular postal service. Postal stationery is generally sold at post office
    Post office
    A post office is a facility forming part of a postal system for the posting, receipt, sorting, handling, transmission or delivery of mail.Post offices offer mail-related services such as post office boxes, postage and packaging supplies...

    s. Each stationery type can be an area of study in its own right but can also be studied by country or by time period.
  • Pre-adhesive mail
    Pre-adhesive mail
    Pre-adhesive mail, also called pre-stamp mail, are letters carried in mail systems before the issuance of postage stamps. A stampless cover is another description and generally also refers to any item of mail sent before the issuance of postage stamps but it can also refer to mail sent, after the...

     also called pre-stamp mail is mail used before the issuance of the Penny Black
    Penny Black
    The Penny Black was the world's first adhesive postage stamp used in a public postal system. It was issued in Britain on 1 May 1840, for official use from 6 May of that year....

     and Two pence Blue
    Two pence blue
    The Two Penny Blue was the world’s second official postage stamp, issued after the Penny Black.It was issued in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and was first sold to the public at the London Inland revenue office in the afternoon of May 8th 1840. Except for its denomination of the...

     stamps on 6 May 1840 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and in other countries, mail used prior to the postal authority adopting their own adhesive labels. The material can range from court and government letters before official public mail services to distinctive town-marks worldwide.
  • Prisoner-of-war mail can be a subcategory of either, or both, Military mail or Postal censorship.
  • Registered mail
    Registered mail
    Registered mail describes letters, packets or other postal documents considered valuable and need a chain of custody that provides more control than regular mail. The posted item has its details recorded in a register to enable its location to be tracked, sometimes with added insurance to cover loss...

     are often used to mail items, or documents, considered valuable and need a chain of custody
    Chain of custody
    Chain of custody refers to the chronological documentation or paper trail, showing the seizure, custody, control, transfer, analysis, and disposition of evidence, physical or electronic...

     that provides more control than regular mail. The letters have their details recorded in a register to enable their location to be tracked and offer many distinctive handstamps. Many countries have issued special postal stationery
    Postal stationery
    A piece of postal stationery is a stationery item, such as a stamped envelope, letter sheet, postal card, lettercard, aerogram or wrapper, with an imprinted stamp or inscription indicating that a specific rate of postage or related service has been prepaid...

     for Registered mail expanding the possible areas being studied beyond regular registered letters. Earlier similar services were known as Money Letters

See also

  • Timeline of postal history
    Timeline of postal history
    This is a timeline of significant events in postal history, including dates relating to postage stamps.-Fifteenth century:* 1497 - Franz von Taxis established a postal service on behalf of Emperor Maximilian I of the Holy Roman Empire-Sixteenth century:...

Further Reading

External links
Linn's Stamp News
Linn's Stamp News an American publication, is the largest weekly newspaper for stamp collectors, with a paid circulation of just over 46,000 Circulation peaked at almost 92,000 in 1978 and has declined ever since because fewer new collectors are subscribing to replace those who subscribed in the...

Refresher Courses
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.