Sunday, July 12, 2015

You've Got Mail....Er...Post

So many things in Great Britain are iconic from a design perspective.  From the simple elegance of the signs for the Underground....

..... to the unmistakable telephone booths......

..... to the ubiquitous red double decker buses, the UK has done an admirable job of making ordinary, everyday things extraordinary.  (And red, evidently.)

The bus on the left is a modern one while the one on the right is the Number 15 bus which is a vintage one that still runs the route near St. Paul's Cathedral.

One other everyday item that the Brits have managed to make interesting is the mailbox.  I don't mean the ones at a house or flat; those are pretty boring.  I mean the ones on the street for mailing letters or postcards.  The color (also red, of course), the shape, even the seemingly-indestructible cast iron solidness of them screams, "I am here!  Pay attention to me!  I am regal!  I am dependable!  I am as much a part of this place as the monarchy itself!"
Knox mails (er, posts) a postcard in 2011.

All of the mailboxes in Great Britain even bear the insignia of the monarch who reigned when they were manufactured.  The one above, for example, says ER VII which stands for Edward the Seventh, Rex (Rex being the Latin for King).

This one is from the time of his mother, Queen Victoria, and bears her insignia - VR for Victoria Regina (Latin for Queen).

That means that this bad boy has been in use since at least 1901 since her reign was from 1837-1901.  How cool is that?

This one in front if our flat had an unfortunate encounter with a car just before Kinley and I arrived.

The ones in Ireland were placed there by the British when Ireland was still a part of Great Britain and were simply painted green after Ireland gained independence in 1922!

This Irish mailbox is from the reign of George V (1910-1936).  I have no idea why they never put the V after his initial.

But here's a funny thing:  mailboxes aren't mailboxes here.  They're postboxes.  And you don't mail a letter here; you post it.  Same with picking up the mail; you pick up the post.  Why do you think it is, though, that in the U.S. we mail a letter at the post office while here they post a letter at the Royal Mail?   And we pick up our mail at the post office while they pick up the post at the Royal Mail!  What's up with that?  Doesn't it seem like we should all be consistent?

But whatever we call it, posting a letter in the UK just seems much more ceremonious than it does at home.  As if just by placing your missive into that hundred-year-old slot, you are part of something bigger and grander and more regal than simple long-distance communication.  As if you are somehow connecting with the monarchs themselves.  It is, after all, the Royal Mail.


  1. Lovely! And thanks for the nice cards you've posted to us from these boxes.

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