US Stamps

Additions to list of covers showing methods of moving the mail

Mar 16, 2022, 1 PM

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

The list of covers showing mail-carrying methods continues to grow.

My last report on this subject was in this column in the May 23, 2016, issue of Linn’s. That column detailed the following mail transport methods that can be documented by covers annotated to how the mail was moved. The list up to that point was as follows:

By rail: trolley, streetcar, Bay Area Rapid Transit (San Francisco), monorail, cog railway steam engine and cable car.

By air: parachute, zeppelin/dirigible, helicopter, ship-to-shore catapult, airplane, glider, rocket, guided missile, seaplane, hot air balloon, pigeon, person shot from a cannon, Piasecki VZ-8P sky car and (tongue-in-cheek) flying saucer.

By water: Ohio River flatboat, steamboat, motorboat, speedboat, submarine, swimmer, jetfoil/hydrofoil, surfboard, ferry boat, inner tube, ore carrier and canoe.

By animal: dog team, horse, pony express, jackass, pack mule, reindeer, camel, dog, Colorado Ghost Post/burro mail, span of oxen, llama and boa constrictor.

By wheeled vehicle: motorcycle, stagecoach, automobile, caraboa cart (Guam), race car, bicycle, snowmobile, snow cruiser, highway post office, automobile trailer, Centurian tank (United Kingdom), Segway personal transporter, roller skates transcontinental automobile trailer mail, tractorcade and Conestoga wagon.

By human being: on skis, on foot (long distance), by runner, and by hitchhiker.

By other means: pneumatic tube, municipal elevator, tub mail and toboggan.

In celebrations/reenactments: wagon train, camel, pony express, steamboat, old horse routes ox team caravan and pony mail run (Arizona)

It’s getting harder to find new methods, but here are a few new ones from the last five years to add to the list:

By air: Buff Divers (Parastreaker Post).

By water: flatboat race, by diver, floating post office, pilot boat, sternwheeler and drifting coffee can.

By animal: handkerchief mail.

The last mentioned is nicely illustrated by the 1961 Cedar Rapids, Iowa, cover in Figure 1.

The Buff Divers, Parastreaker Post (“Bare Mail”) cover is shown in Figure 2, signed by Miss Buff Diver of 1975.

The floating mail boat category is interesting because multiple locations claim to be the, or one of the, last-remaining mail boats in the United States. What I’ve accumulated so far includes the O.F. Mook on the Detroit River, “The World’s Only Floating Post Office” (1936); Santiva of Cape Coral, Fla., “one of America’s Last remaining Mail Boats” (1960); and two covers of Lake Winnipesaukee, N.H., both of which claim “Only Floating Post Office in the World.” One cover pictures The Uncle Sam, which operated from 1906 to 1962. The other presents the Sophie C, “Continuing a great tradition of mail service on the Lake, 1892 to 1971.” Both covers were canceled in 1971.

Though pickings are getting slimmer, I’m certain that we have not exhausted the conveyances by which mail has been carried. If you would like to report additional letter-carrying methods, please write to me, John Hotchner, by email at jmhstamp@verizon.net, or by mail at Box 1125, Falls Church, VA 22041-0125.

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