Wanted for Private Museum: Post Office Equipment, Artefacts, Objects

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Phila-Tourist
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Wanted for Private Museum: Post Office Equipment, Artefacts, Objects

Post by Phila-Tourist »

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In the past twenty years or so I have built a private post office museum in a corner of my house. It contains postal material not made of paper: official post office letter boxes, postal vending machines, postal signs, letter scales, stamp and label dispensers, postmarks and instructional stamps/seals (the actual tools), ink pads and so on. Viewing by appointment is possible and I won't even charge an entrance fee! 😊



About half of my collection of post office artefacts
About half of my collection of post office artefacts



If you have postal objects for sale or spot them on the internet or in a real shop, please alert me now and in the future, including by private message. I would be happy to consider a finder’s fee if an extraordinary deal materializes.

Many such items are bulky, but I will pay parcel postage or even freight if I truly fancy an item! However, my space is limited, so flat items (signs) are great and letter boxes constitute pretty much the limit in terms of bulkiness.

The only oversized item I would love to have is an entire "Wild West" antique post office front with P. O. Boxes and counter window. No phone booths please, no trunks, no carts, no mailman’s bicycle.

I do not generally collect:
  • Small giveaways and promotional or souvenir items.
  • Textile or leather items (uniforms or parts, flags, mailmen's bags). However, I already have several mail bags and might consider additional bags if they are particularly pretty, unusual, exotic or cheap.
  • Private (household) letter boxes for receiving mail; private stamp-vending machines.
  • Items that are not verifiably authentic or durable: no modern hand-painted or laser-printed signs.
  • Dual-use equipment that is not conspicuously post office-related: no generic ink pad even if once used in a post office, no office chair or handheld barcode scanner if all it has is a post office inventory sticker.
  • Telephone, telegraph, courier service or post bank items.
Separately, I seek to borrow master keys for obsolete post office letter boxes because most of mine are locked and some would be big enough to use them as cabinets. Even if no key is actually available, additional advice is welcome, e.g. the key's model number or type designation. I can provide photos of letter boxes and their locks if wanted.
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ViccyVFU
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Re: Wanted for Private Museum: Post Office Equipment, Artefacts, Objects

Post by ViccyVFU »

Phila-Tourist wrote:
16 Mar 2021 00:00
Separately, I seek to borrow master keys for obsolete post office letter boxes because most of mine are locked and some would be big enough to use them as cabinets. Even if no key is actually available, additional advice is welcome, e.g. the key's model number or type designation. I can provide photos of letter boxes and their locks if wanted.
Looking at the collection, the signage and number plate, I'm guessing you are based in Germany.

Of all the boxes you show there, I'd guess that the British one is going to be the hardest to get into (if not already unlocked - Is it off a BFPO base?).

Most of the others have simple barrel locks, and there are plenty of tutorials on Youtube on "How to make a bump key", which, given a little practice and some very basic tools, will get you into most of them "in under five minutes".

The British one is a little more difficult, because the Chubb lock is a mortice type, which requires specialist advanced tools.

You are probably looking at one of these two:

brit.jpg

The difference is cosmetic, both have the lock secured in almost exactly the same place

lock.jpg

Held securely in place by just four screws into the cast iron chassis (but easily removed, once open)


The key style you are looking for is thus

key.jpg
Chubb key for mortice lock on postbox

For that one, you'll need a tensioner bar, plus a variable pick (which is a bit specialist for "just one lock", but with the right tools it is, again, a five minute job).

All the tools and parts are available on eBay (NB - "Other sites too"), or a decent locksmith should be able to rattle through "quite a few" in an hour.

Once opened, usually all the mechanisms can be freely changed (or in the case of the Chubb lock, diss-assembled further, and keys cut to match the lever numbers engraved on each blade).

"Master key" is a bit of a red herring, as whilst different geographical regions may have a lot of locks on their collection round "keyed alike", as far as I'm aware, there is no "universal set, that can open every box nationwide".

(Just imagine how dangerous that would be if it were listed on eBay!!).

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Phila-Tourist
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Re: Wanted for Private Museum: Post Office Equipment, Artefacts, Objects

Post by Phila-Tourist »

Fantastic, thanks very much for this detailed and highly specific technical advice! Already saved and printed for future reference.

Many items in my collection are from Germany indeed, but this is mainly because eBay Germany has a convenient sub-category "Collectibles -> Government and Authorities -> Post Office" that I browse regularly. If instead I do a keyword search for "post office" on English-language eBay sites I get far too many stamps, photographs, documents, etc. Having said this, I will look at ways to improve and tailor my eBay searches.

The UK box is almost certainly a late 20th century generic mainland box. About half of the boxes you see in the photo came from a single purchase. The seller claimed these had been exhibits at a stamp fair, presumably donated by postal administrations that did not ask for them to be returned when the event was over. I do, however, indeed have two improvised field post office letter boxes, visible at the centre bottom: a wooden blue US APO box and directly above it a French BPI box made from a plastic container used for storing/sorting/forwarding mail.

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Re: Wanted for Private Museum: Post Office Equipment, Artefacts, Objects

Post by Catweazle »

Aha, I was trying to find your thread and lost it... :oops:

Here's a link to something I found on the Australian website called GumTree a while back:

https://www.stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=95737

Australia Post Messenger Bag (Front)
Australia Post Messenger Bag (Front)
Pretty cool!

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