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The mail or post is a system for physically transporting
postcard A postcard or post card is a piece of thick paper or thin Card stock, cardboard, typically rectangular, intended for writing and mailing without an envelope. Non-rectangular shapes may also be used but are rare. There are novelty exceptions, suc ...

postcard
s,
letters Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, Object (philosophy ...
, and parcels. A postal service can be private or public, though many governments place restrictions on private systems. Since the mid-19th century, national postal systems have generally been established as a
government monopoly In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods a ...
, with a fee on the article prepaid. Proof of payment is usually in the form of an adhesive
postage stamp A postage stamp is a small piece of paper issued by a post office A post office is a public facility that provides mail services, such as accepting letter (message), letters and parcel (package), parcels, providing post office boxes, and ...
, but a
postage meter A postage meter or franking machine is a mechanical device used to create and apply physical evidence of postage (or franking) to mailed items. Postage meters are regulated by a country's postal authority. A postage meter imprints an amount of ...
is also used for bulk mailing. With the advent of
email upThe email_address.html"_;"title="at_sign,_a_part_of_every_SMTP_email_address">at_sign,_a_part_of_every_SMTP_email_address Electronic_mail_(email_or_e-mail)_is_a_method_of_exchanging_messages_("mail")_between_people_using_electronic_dev ...

email
, the
retronym A retronym is a newer name for an existing thing that differentiates the original form/version from a more recent one. It is thus a word or phrase created to avoid confusion between two types, whereas previously (before there were more than one typ ...
"snail mail" was coined. Postal authorities often have functions aside from transporting letters. In some countries, a postal, telegraph and telephone (PTT) service oversees the postal system, in addition to telephone and telegraph systems. Some countries' postal systems allow for
savings account A savings account is a at a . Common features include a limited number of withdrawals, a lack of cheque and linked facilities, limited transfer options, and the inability to be overdrawn. Traditionally, transactions on savings accounts were w ...
s and handle applications for
passport A passport is an official travel documentA travel document is an identity document issued by a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the c ...

passport
s. The
Universal Postal Union The Universal Postal Union (UPU, french: Union postale universelle), established by the Treaty of Bern of 1874, is a specialized agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations ...
(UPU), established in 1874, includes 192 member countries and sets the rules for international mail exchanges.


Etymology

The word ''mail'' comes from the
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th century. The English language underwent distinct variations and developments following ...
word , referring to a travelling bag or pack. It was spelled in that manner until the 17th century and is distinct from the word
male Male (symbol: ♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete (sex cell) known as sperm, which fuses with the larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male organism cannot sexual reproduction, reproduce sexually ...

male
. The French have a similar word, , for a trunk or large box, and is the Irish term 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 typically used ''mail'' to refer to letters being sent abroad (i.e. on a ship) and ''post'' to refer to letters for domestic delivery. The word ''Post'' is derived from
Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular o ...
, which ultimately stems from the past participle of the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
verb 'to lay down or place'. So in the U.K., the
Royal Mail Royal Mail Group plc is a British multinational and company, originally established in 1516 as a department of the English government. The company's subsidiary Royal Mail Group Limited operates the brands Royal Mail (letters and parcels) and (pa ...

Royal Mail
delivers the ''post'', whilst in North America both the U.S. Postal Service and
Canada Post Canada Post Corporation (french: Société canadienne des postes), trading as Canada Post (french: Postes Canada), is a Crown corporations of Canada, Crown corporation which functions as the primary Postal administration, postal operator in Canad ...
deliver the ''mail''. The term ''
email upThe email_address.html"_;"title="at_sign,_a_part_of_every_SMTP_email_address">at_sign,_a_part_of_every_SMTP_email_address Electronic_mail_(email_or_e-mail)_is_a_method_of_exchanging_messages_("mail")_between_people_using_electronic_dev ...

email
'', short for "electronic mail", first appeared in the 1970s. The term ''snail-mail'' is a
retronym A retronym is a newer name for an existing thing that differentiates the original form/version from a more recent one. It is thus a word or phrase created to avoid confusion between two types, whereas previously (before there were more than one typ ...
to distinguish it from the quicker email. Various dates have been given for its first use.


History

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 Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area arou ...

writing
. However, the development of formal postal systems occurred much later. The first documented use of an organized
courier A courier is a company, an employee of that company or a person who delivers a message, package or letter from one place or person to another place or person. Duties and functions Couriers are distinguished from ordinary mail The mail or pos ...

courier
service for the dissemination of written documents is in
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning the and the of . It is bordered by the to , the () and to , the to the east, to , and to . In the northeast, the , which is the northern arm of the R ...

Egypt
, where
Pharaoh Pharaoh ( , ; cop, , Pǝrro) is the common title now used for the monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. ...

Pharaoh
s used couriers for the dissemination of their decrees in the territory of the State (2400 BCE). The earliest surviving piece of mail is also Egyptian, dating to 255 BCE.


Persia (Iran)

The first credible claim for the development of a real postal system comes from
Ancient Persia The history of Iran, which was commonly known until the mid-20th century as Name of Iran, Persia in the Western world, is intertwined with the history of a larger region, also to an extent known as Greater Iran, comprising the area from Anatolia ...
. The best-documented claim (
Xenophon Xenophon of Athens (; grc, Ξενοφῶν Xenophon of Athens (; grc-gre, Ξενοφῶν, , ''Xenophōn''; – 354 BC) was an Athenian , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens mont ...

Xenophon
) attributes the invention to the Persian King
Cyrus the Great Cyrus II of Persia (; peo, wikt:𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, 𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, translit=Kūruš), commonly known as Cyrus the Great and also called Cyrus the Elder by the Ancient Greece, Greeks, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the Histo ...

Cyrus the Great
(550 BCE), who mandated that every province in his kingdom would organize reception and delivery of post to each of its citizens. He also negotiated with neighboring countries to do the same and had roads built from the city of
Post Post or POST commonly refers to: *Mail The mail or post is a system for physically transporting postcards, letters, and parcels. A postal service can be private or public, though many governments place restrictions on private systems. Since ...
in Western Iran all the way up to the city of
Hakha Hakha (, ; formerly rendered Haka) is the capital of Chin State Chin State (, ) is a Administrative divisions of Burma, state in western Myanmar. The Chin State is bordered by Sagaing Division and Magway Division to the east, Rakhine State to ...

Hakha
in the East. Other writers credit his successor
Darius I of Persia Darius I ( peo, 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁, translit=Dārayava(h)uš; New Persian: ; ; c. 550 – 486 BCE), commonly known as Darius the Great, was the third List of kings of Persia, Persian King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire, reigning from ...
(521 BCE). Other sources claim much earlier dates for an Assyrian postal system, with credit given to
Hammurabi Hammurabi () was the sixth king of the First Babylonian dynasty The First Babylonian Empire, or Old Babylonian Empire, is dated to BC – BC, and comes after the end of Sumerian power with the destruction of the Third Dynasty of Ur The ...

Hammurabi
(1700 BCE) and
Sargon II Sargon II (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo up Chiswick_Press.html"_;"title="Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press">Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press_ A_logo_(abbreviation_of_logotype,_from__el.html" ;"title="Chiswick_Press_.ht ...
(722 BCE). 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 came to indicate a tax system. The
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon, which is based primarily upon the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, a collection of ancient religious Hebrew writings by the Israelites. The ...
(
Esther Esther is described in all versions of the Book of Esther The Book of Esther (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historica ...

Esther
, VIII) makes mention of this system:
Ahasuerus Ahasuerus ( ; , commonly ''Achashverosh'';; fa, اخشورش, Axšoreš; fa, label=New Persian New Persian ( fa, فارسی نو), also known as Modern Persian () and Dari (), is the final stage of the Persian language Persian (), also ...

Ahasuerus
, king of
Medes The Medes ( peo, 𐎶𐎠𐎭 ; akk, , ; grc, Μῆδοι ) were an Iranian peoples, ancient Iranian people who spoke the Median language and who inhabited an area known as Media (region), Media between western Iran, western and nor ...
, used couriers for communicating his decisions. The
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...

Persian
system worked using stations (called Chapar-Khaneh), whence 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 Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), ge ...
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 verse prominently features on New York's
James Farley Post Office The James A. Farley Building is a mixed-use structure in Midtown Manhattan Midtown Manhattan is the central portion of the New York City borough of Manhattan Manhattan (), known regionally as the City and the urban core of the New York ...
, although it uses the translation ''Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds''.


India

The economic growth and political stability under the
Mauryan empire The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age system, three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of Homo sapiens, humanity. It was preceded by the Stone Age (Paleoli ...
(322–185 BCE) stimulated sustained development of civil infrastructure in ancient
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...

India
. The Mauryans developed early Indian mail service as well as public wells, rest houses, and other facilities for the public. Common chariots called ''Dagana'' were sometimes used as mail chariots in ancient India. Couriers were used militarily by kings and local rulers to deliver information through runners and other carriers. The postmaster, the head of the intelligence service, was responsible for ensuring the maintenance of the courier system. Couriers were also used to deliver personal letters. In
South India South India is a region consisting of the southern part of India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...

South India
, the Wodeyar dynasty (1399–1947) of the
Kingdom of Mysore The Kingdom of Mysore was a realm in southern India South India is a region consisting of the southern part of India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of count ...
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, a postal system in India was in operation. Later this system underwent complete modernization when the
British Raj The British Raj (; from ''rāj'', literally, "rule" in Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the In ...

British Raj
established its control over most of 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.


Rome

The first well-documented postal service was that of
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...

Rome
. Organized at the time of
Augustus Caesar Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variet ...

Augustus Caesar
(62 BCE – 14 CE), the service was called ''
cursus publicus The ''cursus publicus'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "t ...
'' and was provided with light carriages (''rhedæ'') pulled by fast horses. By the time of
Diocletian Diocletian (; la, Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus; born Diocles; 22 December c. 244 – 3 December 311) was from 284 to 305. Born to a family of low status in , Diocletian rose through the ranks of the military to become a commander of ...
, a parallel service was established with two-wheeled carts (''birotæ'') pulled by
oxen An ox () (plural oxen, ), also known as a bullock (in BrE British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial ...

oxen
. This service was reserved for government correspondence. Yet another service for citizens was later added.


China

Some Chinese sources claim mail or postal systems dating back to the
Xia Xia (Hsia in Wade–Giles) may refer to: Chinese history * Xia dynasty (夏) (c. 2070 – c. 1600 BC) * Xia (Sixteen Kingdoms) (夏) (407–431), a Xiongnu state * Xia (夏) (617–621), a state founded by Dou Jiande near the end of the Sui dynast ...

Xia
or
Shang The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty Dynasties in Chinese history, or Chinese dynasties, were hereditary monarchical regimes that ruled over China during much of its history. From ...

Shang
dynasties A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or other relationship). Th ...
, which would be the oldest mailing service in the world. The earliest credible system of couriers was initiated by the
Han Dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han Dynasty
(206 BCE – 220 CE), who had relay stations every 30 li along major routes. The
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
(618 to 907 AD) operated recorded 1,639 posthouses, including maritime offices, employing around 20,000 people. The system was administered by the Ministry of War and private correspondence was forbidden from the network. The
Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the Dynasties in Chinese history, ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol Empire, Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynas ...

Ming dynasty
(1368 to 1644) sought a postal system to deliver mail quickly, securely, and cheaply. Adequate speed was always a problem, because of the slow overland transportation system, and underfunding. Its network had 1,936 posthouses every 60 li along major routes, with fresh horses available every 10 li between them. The
Qing The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last imperial dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n.''" Oxford University Press Oxford Univers ...
operated 1,785 posthouses throughout their lands. More efficient, however, was the system linking the international settlements, centered around Shanghai and the Treaty ports. It was the main communication system for China's international trade.


Mongol Empire

Genghis Khan ''Chinggis Khaan'' ͡ʃʰiŋɡɪs xaːŋbr>Mongol script The classical or traditional Mongolian script, also known as the , was the first Mongolian alphabet, writing system created specifically for the Mongolian language, and was the most ...

Genghis Khan
installed an empire-wide messenger and postal station system named '' Örtöö'' within the
Mongol Empire The Mongol Empire of the 13th and 14th centuries was the List of largest empires, largest contiguous land empire in history and the second largest empire by landmass, second only to the British Empire. Originating in Mongolia in East Asia, the ...
. During the
Yuan Dynasty The Yuan dynasty (), officially the Great Yuan (; xng, , , literally "Great Yuan State"), was a successor state Successor is someone who, or something which succeeds or comes after (see success and succession) Film and TV * ''The Succ ...
under
Kublai Khan Kublai (; also spelled Qubilai or Kübilai; mn, Хубилай, Khubilai ; ; 23 September  1215 – 18 February 1294), also known by his temple name as Emperor Shizu of Yuan, was the fifth khagan-Emperor of China, emperor of the Mongol Empir ...

Kublai Khan
, this system also covered the territory of China. Postal stations were used not only for the transmission and delivery of
official mail salvaged from the 1935 Imperial Airways "City of Khartoum" aircraft crash at Alexandria during an England to Australia flight. Official mail is mail sent from, or by, an authorized department of government, governmental agency or international orga ...
but were also available for travelling officials, military men, and foreign dignitaries. These stations aided and facilitated the transport of foreign and domestic tribute specifically and the conduct of 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 50,000 horses, 1,400 oxen, 6,700 mules, 400 carts, 6,000 boats, more than 200 dogs, and 1,150 sheep. The stations were apart and had reliable attendants working for the mail service. Foreign observers, such as
Marco Polo Marco Polo (, , ; September 15, 1254January 8, 1324) was a merchant, explorer, and writer who travelled through Asia along the between 1271 and 1295. His travels are recorded in ' (also known as ''Book of the Marvels of the World '' and '' ...

Marco Polo
, have attested to the efficiency of this early postal system.Mote 1978: 450 Each station was maintained by up to twenty five families. Work for postal service counted as military service. The system was still operational in 18th century when 64 stations were required for a message to cross Mongolia from the
Altai Mountains The Altai Mountains (), also spelled Altay Mountains, are a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with simil ...

Altai Mountains
to China.


Japan

The modern Japanese system was developed in the mid-19th century, closely copying European models. Japan was highly innovative in developing the world's largest and most successful postal savings system and later a postal life insurance system as well. Postmasters play a key role in linking the Japanese political system to local politics. The postmasters are high prestige, and are often hereditary. To a large extent, the postal system generated the enormous funding necessary to rapidly industrialize Japan in the late 19th century.


Other systems

Another important postal service was created in the
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or ex ...
ic world by the ''
caliph A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state {{Infobox war faction , name = Islamic State , anthem = '' Dawlat al-Islam Qamat'' {{small, ("My Ummah ' ( ar, أمة ) is an Arabic Arabic (, ' ...
'' Mu'awiyya; the service was called '' barid'', for the name of the towers built to protect the roads by which couriers travelled. By 3000 BC, Egypt was using
homing pigeon The true messenger pigeon is a variety of domestic pigeons (''Columba livia domestica'') derived from the wild rock dove, selective breeding, selectively bred for its ability to find its way home over extremely long distances. The rock dove has ...

homing pigeon
s for
pigeon post Pigeon post is the use of homing pigeon The true messenger pigeon is a variety of domestic pigeons (''Columba livia domestica'') derived from the wild rock dove, selective breeding, selectively bred for its ability to find its way home ov ...

pigeon post
, taking advantage of a singular quality of this bird, which when taken far from its nest is able to find its 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 its original nest. By the 19th century homing pigeons were used extensively for military communications.
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; 2 April 748 – 28 January 814) was King of the Franks The Franks—Germanic-speaking peoples that invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century—were first led by i ...

Charlemagne
extended to the whole territory of his empire the system used by
Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the and the , on the edge of the . Later the term was associated with Germanic dynasties within the ...

Franks
in northern
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rat ...

Gaul
and connected this service with that of ''missi dominici''. In the mid-11th century, flax traders known as the
Cairo Geniza The Cairo Geniza, alternatively spelled Genizah, is a collection of some 400,000 Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelit ...
Merchants from
Fustat Fustat ( ar, الفسطاط ''al-Fusṭāṭ'', ), also Fostat, Al Fustat, Misr al-Fustat and Fustat-Misr, was the first capital of Egypt The current capital of Egypt is Cairo Cairo ( ; ar, القاهرة, al-Qāhirah, , Coptic: ⲕⲁϩ ...
, Egypt wrote about using a postal service known as the ''kutubi.'' The ''kutubi'' system managed routes between the cities of Jerusalem, Ramla, Tyre, Ascalon, Damascus, Aleppo, and Fustat with year-round, regular mail delivery. Many religious orders had a private mail service. Notably, the
Cistercians , one of the most influential early Cistercians, seen here depicted in a historiated initial. Cistercian monks standing in a cloister A cloister (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic ...
had one which connected more than 6,000
abbey An abbey is a type of monastery A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of monastics, monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin L ...

abbey
s,
monasteries A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of monastics, monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical langua ...

monasteries
, and churches. The best organization, however, was created by the
Knights Templar The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon ( la, Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici), also known as the Order of Solomon's Temple, the Knights Templar, or simply the Templars, was a Catholic military order (so ...
. In 1505,
Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( la, Imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as ...
Maximilian IMaximilian I may refer to: *Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, reigned 1486/93–1519 *Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria, reigned 1597–1651 *Maximilian I, Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1636-1689) *Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria, reigned 1795– ...

Maximilian I
established a postal system in the Empire, appointing Franz von Taxis to run it. The
Thurn und Taxis The Princely House of Thurn and Taxis (german: link=no, Fürst ' (, female form ', plural '; from Old High German ', "the first", a translation of the Latin ') is a German language, German word for a ruler and is also a princely title. ' w ...
family, then known as Tassis, had operated postal services between Italian city-states from 1290 onward. Following the abolition of the Empire in 1806, the Thurn-und-Taxis Post system continued as a private organization into the postage stamp era before being absorbed into the postal system of the new German Empire after 1871. In 1716 Correos y Telégrafos was established in Spain as public mail service, available to all citizens. Delivery postmen were first employed in 1756 and post boxes were installed firstly in 1762.


Postal reforms

In the United Kingdom, prior to 1840 letters were paid for by the recipient and the cost was determined by the distance from sender to recipient and the number of sheets of paper rather than by a countrywide flat rate with weight restrictions.
Sir Rowland Hill Sir Rowland Hill, Order of the Bath, KCB, Fellow of the Royal Society, FRS (3 December 1795 – 27 August 1879) was an English teacher, inventor and reform movement, social reformer. He campaigned for a comprehensive reform of the Mail, post ...
reformed the postal system based on the concepts of penny postage and prepayment. In his proposal Hill also called for official pre-printed
envelopes 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 (message), letter or Greeting card, card. Traditional envelopes are made from sheets of paper cut to one of ...
and adhesive
postage stamp A postage stamp is a small piece of paper issued by a post office A post office is a public facility that provides mail services, such as accepting letter (message), letters and parcel (package), parcels, providing post office boxes, and ...
s 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 The Penny Black was the world's first adhesive postage stamp used in a public postal system. It was first issued in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) ...

Penny Black
.


Modern transport and technology

The postal system was important in the development of modern transportation. Railways carried
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 Railwa ...
s. During the 20th century,
air mail and Brück Airmail (or air mail) is a mail The mail or post is a system for physically transporting postcards, letters, and parcels. A postal service can be private or public, though many governments place restrictions on private sys ...
became the transport of choice for inter-continental mail. Postmen started to utilize
mail truck A mail truck, post truck, mail van, post van or mail lorry is a type of delivery vehicle that is used to distribute for posting the mail The mail or post is a system for physically transporting postcards, letters, and parcels. A pos ...
s. The handling of mail became increasingly automated. The
Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ''internetworking, network of networks'' that consist ...

Internet
came to change the conditions for physical mail. Email (and in recent years
social networking A social networking service (also social networking site or social media) is an online platform which people use to build social networks or social relationships with other people who share similar personal or career interests, activities, back ...
sites) became a fierce competitor to physical mail systems, but
online auction An online auction (or also electronic auction or e-auction or eAuction) is an auction An auction is usually a process of buying and selling goods In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with va ...

online auction
s and Internet shopping opened new business opportunities as people often get items bought online through the mail.


Modern mail

Modern mail is organized by national and privatized services, which are reciprocally connected 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 email where they previously would have used letters. The volume of paper mail sent through the U.S. Postal Service has declined by more than 15% since its peak at 213 billion pieces per annum in 2006.


Organization

Some countries have organized their mail services as public limited liability corporations without a
legal monopoly A legal monopoly, statutory monopoly, or ''de jure'' monopoly is a monopoly A monopoly (from Greek el, μόνος, mónos, single, alone, label=none and el, πωλεῖν, pōleîn, to sell, label=none) exists when a specific person or enterpr ...
. The worldwide postal system constituting the individual national postal systems of the world's self-governing states is coordinated by the
Universal Postal Union The Universal Postal Union (UPU, french: Union postale universelle), established by the Treaty of Bern of 1874, is a specialized agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations ...
, which among other things sets international postage rates, defines standards for
postage stamp A postage stamp is a small piece of paper issued by a post office A post office is a public facility that provides mail services, such as accepting letter (message), letters and parcel (package), parcels, providing post office boxes, and ...
s and operates the system of
international reply couponAn international reply coupon (IRC) is a coupon that can be exchanged for one or more postage stamps representing the minimum postage for an unregistered priority airmail letter of up to twenty grams sent to another Universal Postal Union (UPU) membe ...
s. In most countries a system of codes has been created (referred to as ''
ZIP code#REDIRECT ZIP Code A ZIP Code is a postal code used by the United States Postal Service (USPS). Introduced in 1963, the basic format consisted of five digits. In 1983, an extended ZIP+4 code was introduced; it included the five digits of the ZIP ...
s'' in the United States, ''postcodes'' in the United Kingdom and Australia, ''
eircode Postcard sent from the United States to a home in Ireland. No street address, town, or addressee name was provided but the card was correctly delivered days later. A "postal address" in the Republic of Ireland is a place of delivery Delivery may ...
s'' in Ireland and ''
postal code A postal code (also known locally in various English-speaking countries throughout the world as a postcode, post code, PIN or ZIP Code) is a series of letters or digits or both, sometimes including spaces or punctuation, included in a postal ...
s'' 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 A barcode or bar code is a method of representing data in a visual, machine-readable form. Initially, barcodes represented data by varying the widths and spacings of parallel lines. These barcodes, now commonly referred to as linear or one-dimen ...
. 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 Airmail (or air mail) is a mail The mail or post is a system for physically transporting postcard A postcard or post card is a piece of thick paper or thin Card stock, cardboard, typically rectangular, intended for writing and mailing ...
post service took place in the United Kingdom between the London suburbs of
Hendon Hendon is an urban area in the Borough of Barnet, North-West London London is the Capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. It stands on the River Thames in sout ...

Hendon
and
Windsor, Berkshire Windsor is a historic market town and unparished area in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire, England. It is the site of Windsor Castle, one of the official residences of the Monarchy of the United Kingdom, British monarch. ...

Windsor, Berkshire
, on 9 September 1911. Some methods of airmail proved ineffective, however, including the United States Postal Service's experiment with
rocket mail Rocket mail is the delivery of mail by rocket or missile. The rocket lands by deploying an internal parachute upon arrival. It has been attempted by various organizations in many different countries, with varying levels of success. It has neve ...
. Receipt services were made available in order to grant the sender a confirmation of effective delivery.


Payment

Before about the mid-nineteenth century, in regions where postal systems existed, the payment models varied, but most mail was sent unpaid requiring the recipient to pay the postage fee. In some regions a partial payment was made by the sender. Today, worldwide, the most common method of prepaying postage is by buying an adhesive
postage stamp A postage stamp is a small piece of paper issued by a post office A post office is a public facility that provides mail services, such as accepting letter (message), letters and parcel (package), parcels, providing post office boxes, and ...
to be applied to the envelope before mailing; a much less common method is to use a postage-prepaid
envelope An envelope is a common packaging Packaging is the art and technology of enclosing or protecting products for distribution, storage, sale, and use. Packaging also refers to the process of designing, evaluating, and producing packages. Packa ...

envelope
.
Franking Franking comprises all devices, markings, or combinations thereof ("franks") applied to mails of any class which qualifies them to be postally serviced. Types of franks include uncanceled and precanceled postage stamps (both adhesive and printed on ...
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
bank A bank is a financial institution Financial institutions, otherwise known as banking institutions, are corporation A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company—authorized by the State (polity), stat ...

bank
s and
direct mail Advertising mail, also known as direct mail (by its senders), junk mail (by its recipients), mailshot or admail (North America), letterbox drop or letterboxing (Australia) is the delivery of advertising material to recipients of postal mail. The ...
companies. In 1998, the U.S. Postal Service authorised the first tests of a secure system of sending digital franks via the
Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ''internetworking, network of networks'' that consist ...

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 personalized 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 Royal Mail Group plc is a British multinational and company, originally established in 1516 as a department of the English government. The company's subsidiary Royal Mail Group Limited operates the brands Royal Mail (letters and parcels) and (pa ...

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 "personalized 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.)


Privacy and censorship

Documents should generally not be read by anyone other than the addressee; for example, in the United States of America it is a violation of federal law for anyone other than the addressee and the government to open mail. There are exceptions however: executives often assign secretaries or assistants the task of handling their mail; and postcards do not require opening and can be read by anyone. For mail contained within an envelope, there are legal provisions in some jurisdictions allowing the recording of identities of sender and recipient.Back when spies played by the rules
, ''Deccan Herald'', January 17, 2006. Retrieved 29 December 2006.
The privacy of correspondence is guaranteed by the constitutions of
Mexico Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organi ...
,
Colombia Colombia ( , ; ), officially the Republic of Colombia, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by conv ...
and Constitution of Brazil, Brazil, and is alluded to in the European Convention on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The control of the contents inside private citizens' mail is censorship and concerns social, political, and legal aspects of civil rights. International mail and packages are subject to customs control, with the mail and packages are often surveyed and their contents sometimes are edited out (or even in). There have been cases over the millennia of governments opening and copying or photographing the contents of private mail. 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 extralegally. The mail service may be allowed to open the mail if neither addressee nor sender can be located, in order to attempt to locate either. Mail service may also open the mail to inspect if it contains materials that are hazardous to transport or violate local laws. While in most cases Postal censorship, mail censorship is exceptional, military mail to and from soldiers on active deployment is often subject to surveillance. In active fighting, censorship may be especially strict to hide tactical secrets, prevent low morale from bad news, etc. Mail sent to and from inmates in jails or prisons within the United States is subject to opening and review by jail or prison staff to determine if the mail has any criminal action dictated or provides means for an escape. The only mail that is not able to be read is attorney client mail, which is covered under the attorney-client confidentiality laws in the United States.


Rise of electronic correspondence

Modern alternatives, such as the telegraph, telephone, telex, fax, facsimile, and
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email
, 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 the general public cannot learn the address of the sender or recipient 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. Mail carriers due to perceived hazards or inconveniences, 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). On the other hand, traditional mail avoids the possibility of computer malfunctions and malware, and the recipient does not need to print it out if they wish to have a paper copy, though scanning is required to make a digital copy. Physical mail is still widely used in business and personal communications for such reasons as legal requirements for signatures, requirements of etiquette, and the requirement to enclose small physical objects. Since the advent of
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email
, which is almost always much faster, the postal system has come to be referred to in Internet slang by the
retronym A retronym is a newer name for an existing thing that differentiates the original form/version from a more recent one. It is thus a word or phrase created to avoid confusion between two types, whereas previously (before there were more than one typ ...
"Snail Mail (disambiguation), snail mail". Occasionally, the term "white mail" or "the PaperNet" has also been used as a neutral term for postal mail. Mainly during the 20th century, experimentation with hybrid mail has combined electronic and paper delivery. Electronic mechanisms include telegram, teleprinter, telex, facsimile (fax),
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email
, and short message service (Short Message Service, SMS). There have been methods which have combined mail and some of these newer methods, such as temporary emails, that combine 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 typeface, fonts from standard keyboards. However, the increased use of typewritten or computer-printed letters for personal communication and the advent of email have sparked renewed interest in calligraphy, as a letter has become more of a "special event". Long before email and computer-printed letters, however, decorated envelopes, rubber stamps and artistamps formed part of the medium of mail art. In the 2000s (decade) 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 email. Online post offices have emerged to give recipients a means of receiving traditional correspondence mail in a scanned electronic format.


Collecting

Postage stamps are also object of a particular form of collecting. Stamp collecting has been a very popular hobby. 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, 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
postcard A postcard or post card is a piece of thick paper or thin Card stock, cardboard, typically rectangular, intended for writing and mailing without an envelope. Non-rectangular shapes may also be used but are rare. There are novelty exceptions, suc ...

postcard
s, 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 novel, epistolary,'' tells a fictional story in the form of the correspondence between two or more characters. A makeshift mail method after stranding on a deserted island is a message in a bottle.


Deregulation

Numerous countries, including Sweden (1 January 1993), New Zealand (1998 and 2003), Germany (2005 and 2007), Argentina and Chile opened up the postal services market to new entrants. In the case of New Zealand Post, New Zealand Post Limited, this included (from 2003) its right to be the sole New Zealand postal administration member of the
Universal Postal Union The Universal Postal Union (UPU, french: Union postale universelle), established by the Treaty of Bern of 1874, is a specialized agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations ...
, thus the ending of its monopoly on stamps bearing the name New Zealand.


Types


Letters

Letter-sized mail constitutes the bulk of the contents sent through most postal services. These are usually documents printed on A4 paper size, A4 (210×297 mm), Letter (paper size), Letter-sized (8.5×11 inches), or smaller paper and placed in envelopes. Handwritten correspondence, while once a major means of communications between distant people, is now used less frequently due to the advent of more immediate forms of communication, such as the telephone or email. Traditional letters, however, are often considered to hark 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 Public utility, 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.


First-Class

First-Class Mail in the U.S. includes postcards, letters, large envelopes (flats), and small packages, providing each piece weighs 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. As of 2011 42% of First-Class Mail arrived the next day, 27% in two days, and 31% in three. The USPS expected that changes to the service in 2012 would cause about 51% to arrive in two days and most of the rest in three. The British Royal Mail equivalent to USPS First-Class Mail is stylized as 1st Class, and is simply a priority option over 2nd Class, at a slightly higher cost. Royal Mail aims (but does not guarantee) to deliver all 1st Class letters the day after postage. The Canada Post counterpart is Lettermail.


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 valuable items. Registered mail is constantly tracked through the system. Recorded mail is handled just like ordinary mail with the exception that it has to be signed for on receipt. This is useful for legal documents where proof of delivery is required. In the United Kingdom recorded delivery mail (branded as ''signed for'' by the Royal Mail) is covered by ''The Recorded Delivery Services Act 1962''. Under this legislation any document which its relevant law requires service by registered post can also be lawfully served by recorded delivery.


Repositionable notes

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. The repositionable note may be fixed directly to the address side of First-Class Mail and Standard Mail letter-size mailpieces. These mailpieces must meet the standards in 7.2 through 7.6. The note is included as an integral part of the mailpiece for weight and postage rate and must be accounted for in pricing.


Postal cards and postcards

Postal cards and
postcard A postcard or post card is a piece of thick paper or thin Card stock, cardboard, typically rectangular, intended for writing and mailing without an envelope. Non-rectangular shapes may also be used but are rare. There are novelty exceptions, suc ...

postcard
s are small message cards that 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 indicia" (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

Small packets are usually less than 2 kg. Larger envelopes are also sent through the mail. These are often composed of a stronger material than standard envelopes and are often used by businesses to transport documents that may not 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 limitations as to what a package may or may not contain, 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, as a result of terrorism concerns, the U.S. Postal Service subjects their packages to numerous security tests, often scanning or x-raying packages for materials that might be found in biological materials or 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 Wrapper (philately), wrappers with a stamp imprint. Hybrid mail, sometimes referred to as L-mail, is the Lodgement (finance), 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 who are unable to receive
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, such as the elderly or infirm. Services provided by Hybrid mail providers are closely related to that of mail forwarding service providers.


See also

* Express mail * EPPML * Parcel (package) * Shipping insurance *
Universal Postal Union The Universal Postal Union (UPU, french: Union postale universelle), established by the Treaty of Bern of 1874, is a specialized agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations ...
* List of postal entities Components of a postal system: * Letter box * Mail carrier * Mail bag * Mail train (disambiguation), Mail train * Packstation * Post box * Post office * Post-office box * Postage rate (disambiguation), Postage rate * Postal code


Notes


Further reading

* * * * Daunton, M. J. ''Royal Mail: The Post Office Since 1840'' (Athlone, 1985), Great Britain. * * Hemmeon, Joseph Clarence. ''The history of the British post office'' (Harvard University Press, 1912
online
* John, Richard R. ''Spreading the News: The American Postal System from Franklin to Morse'' (1995
excerpt
* * * *


External links


''A Hundred Years by Post''
by J. Wilson Hyde * Potts, Albert, "'' (First U.S. street mailbox patent)''". US patent office. 1858
The British Postal Museum & Archive


British Army Postal Services History * James Meek, ''London Review of Books'', 28 April 2011
In the Sorting Office
33(9)
U.S. National Postal Museum
a part of the Smithsonian Institution
Universal Postal Union
a part of the United Nations {{Authority control Postal system,