Monthly Archives: December 2012

Nadolig Llawen

In the lead-up to Christmas we are sharing with you 12 Posters of Christmas, a dozen classic postal posters from the Royal Mail Archive. Today’s is…

Welsh language poster advertising final posting dates, 1975. (POST 110/0098)

Welsh language poster advertising final posting dates, 1975. (POST 110/0098)

The national languages of Wales are Welsh and English, and by law both are treated equally by the public sector. The posters above and below, produced by the Post Office in 1975, reflect this – both have the same design and message, they are just in different languages.

Poster advertising final posting dates, 1975. (POST 110/0097)

Poster advertising final posting dates, 1975. (POST 110/0097)

The title of this blog post, Nadolig Llawen, means Merry Christmas in Welsh, and as this is our last blog for 2012 we wish you both a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (Blwyddwyn Newydd Dda in Welsh).

The BPMA blog will return in early 2013 with posts on the Family History, Drive-in Post Offices, Mail on the island of St Kilda, the upcoming London Underground stamps and much more!

Christmas mail for HM Forces

In the lead-up to Christmas we are sharing with you 12 Posters of Christmas, a dozen classic postal posters from the Royal Mail Archive. Today’s is…

Poster advertising final posting dates, 1974. (POST 110/0079)

Poster advertising final posting dates, 1974. (POST 110/0079)

Military personnel are constantly on the move, so spare a thought for the British Forces Post Office which has the unenviable task of getting mail to them. In 1974, as now, the families of those serving in the Army, Navy and Air Force had to be very organised to ensure their loved ones received their Christmas cards and parcels. Mail from home is a great morale boost to servicemen and women on operations far from home, especially at Christmas time.

Use your postcode at Christmas

In the lead-up to Christmas we are sharing with you 12 Posters of Christmas, a dozen classic postal posters from the Royal Mail Archive. Today’s is…

Poster promoting the use of postal codes when sending Christmas mail, 1968 (POST 110/1550)

Poster promoting the use of postal codes when sending Christmas mail, 1968 (POST 110/1550)

In the 1960s when this poster was produced most mail was still sorted by hand but the Post Office was hatching an ambitious plan to reshape the entire network and it needed the public to change with them. A new breed of sorting office was being developed, filled with “coding desks” at which staff would operate keyboards in order to register the mail as it entered the system. Postcodes, which compressed the information in every address were key to making this new type of sorting office work.

A line of postmen operating coding desks at Croydon Head Post Office, 1969. (POST 118/5424)

A line of postmen operating coding desks at Croydon Head Post Office, 1969. (POST 118/5424)

Between 1966 and 1974 every address in the United Kingdom was given a postcode and this poster from 1968 was part of the accompanying publicity campaign. Royal Mail was still promoting the postcode using posters and other methods as recently as the 1990s, a reflection of how long it takes to effect major change. You can read more about postcoding in our blog post Publicising the postcode or in our article on Postcodes on our website.

Christmas air letters

In the lead-up to Christmas we are sharing with you 12 Posters of Christmas, a dozen classic postal posters from the Royal Mail Archive. Today’s is…

Poster advertising Christmas greetings stationery; featuring two air letters; one with a nativity scene and one with a pear tree, October 1967. (POST 110/1544)

Poster advertising Christmas greetings stationery; featuring two air letters; one with a nativity scene and one with a pear tree, October 1967. (POST 110/1544)

Like the Airgraph the air letter came about during the Second World War. It was developed to provide soldiers with an easy method of sending letters by air that weighed little and therefore required less fuel to transport. In the post-war era decorative air letters became available in post offices, with special Christmas air letters first issued in the 1960s.

This poster advertises 1967’s Christmas air letter designs. It was decided to issue one seasonal and one religious-themed air letter in that year, and the chosen designs were a nativity scene by Eric Fraser and Clive Abbott’s ‘partridge in a pear tree’. Michael and Sylvia Goamans designed the printed ‘stamp’ used on both air letters.

While Eric Fraser (1902-83) is less well known in the field of stamp and postal stationery design than Abbott or the Goamans, he submitted a number of designs on various occasions during the 1950s and 1960s, and had previously undertaken poster design work for the Post Office. You can see several of Fraser’s poster designs on our Flickr site.

Christmas cards in bundles

In the lead-up to Christmas we are sharing with you 12 Posters of Christmas, a dozen classic postal posters from the Royal Mail Archive. Today’s is…

Poster recommending that mail be tied in bundles to assist with the Christmas mail, designed by Kenneth Bromfield, c. 1967. (POST 110/2581)

Poster recommending that mail be tied in bundles to assist with the Christmas mail, designed by Kenneth Bromfield, c. 1967. (POST 110/2581)

Until as recently as the 1990s it was common for the Post Office to request that large numbers of letters or cards be posted in bundles. Assuming the public bundled the letters and cards correctly, this assisted greatly with mail sorting during the busy Christmas period.

Royal Mail no longer asks that you bundle your letters and cards as a great deal of mail is now sorted by machines which electronically read the address and postcode on each item of mail.

Overseas mails

In the lead-up to Christmas we are sharing with you 12 Posters of Christmas, a dozen classic postal posters from the Royal Mail Archive. Today’s is…

Poster advertising final posting dates for overseas Christmas mail, designed by Tilley, September 1966. (POST 110/3034)

Poster advertising final posting dates for overseas Christmas mail, designed by Tilley, September 1966. (POST 110/3034)

This poster first appeared in September 1966 and as with other long, landscape posters would have been displayed on to the side of small Morris post vans. The designer Tilley has created a colourful scene to promote the list of Christmas posting dates available at post offices. A dolphin representing sea (or surface) mail holds a copy of the list in its mouth, while a bird representing airmail holds a copy in its beak.

These days the public are more likely to use the internet to find out the last posting dates. The Royal Mail website lists the dates for 2012 here: http://www.royalmail.com/greetings.

Get your Christmas presents from our online shop. Order before 18 December for delivery within the UK.

Travel shop post early

In the lead-up to Christmas we are sharing with you 12 Posters of Christmas, a dozen classic postal posters from the Royal Mail Archive. Today’s is…

Poster advising on early posting over the festive season; featuring the head of Father Christmas, his face in the shape of a stamp, designed by Hans Unger, c. 1964. (POST 110/2638)

Poster advising on early posting over the festive season; featuring the head of Father Christmas, his face in the shape of a stamp, designed by Hans Unger, c. 1964. (POST 110/2638)

In Monday’s blog we looked at the Post Early campaign which encouraged the public to send their Christmas letters and parcels early to beat the rush in the lead-up to Christmas. This 1964 poster by Hans Unger is a variant on the Post Early campaign, reminding the public to travel and shop early at Christmas time too. We don’t see posters like this in post offices anymore but the advice is still good – don’t wait until the last minute, beat the crowds by shopping, travelling and posting early.

Christmas airmail

In the lead-up to Christmas we are sharing with you 12 Posters of Christmas, a dozen classic postal posters from the Royal Mail Archive. Today’s is…

Poster advertising Christmas air mail services; featuring a flying Father Christmas with wings made out of Air Mail stickers, designed by Dick Negus and Philip Sharland, 1962. (POST 110/4254)

Poster advertising Christmas air mail services; featuring a flying Father Christmas with wings made out of Air Mail stickers, designed by Dick Negus and Philip Sharland, 1962. (POST 110/4254)

This poster from 1962 gives the last posting dates for Christmas mail sent by airmail in that year. Airmail is usually associated with international mail services but after the Second World War the Post Office began to use scheduled inland flights to carry mail between major centres.

Since 1979 Royal Mail has developed an inland network of nightly flights between provincial centres. Its national air network, Skynet, ensures millions of letters reach their destination the day after posting. Thanks to Skynet some of your Christmas cards and parcels will have gone by air for part of their journey without the need for an airmail sticker.

If Skynet sounds a bit Terminator and not as fun as this Father Christmas with angel wings of airmail stickers, we can only apologise.

Seasons greetings by radio

In the lead-up to Christmas we are sharing with you 12 Posters of Christmas, a dozen classic postal posters from the Royal Mail Archive. Today’s is…

Poster advertising radio telegram service; featuring a ship and the radio mast, November 1960. (POST 110/1406)

Poster advertising radio telegram service; featuring a ship and the radio mast, November 1960. (POST 110/1406)

Wireless or radio telegraphy was pioneered by Guglielmo Marconi and General Post Office (GPO) at the end of the 19th Century; we have previously blogged on its important role in saving lives after the Titanic disaster. While Marconi’s invention was originally implemented to transmit messages where a wired telegraph network did not exist (i.e. to ships at sea), radio was, of course, later used to broadcast information and entertainment (we have also previously blogged on the GPO’s involvement with the BBC and early broadcasting).

The above poster from 1960 advertises the GPO’s radio telegram service, where telegrams were sent overseas via a relay of on-shore transmitting stations and ships. International telephone calls were still prohibitively expensive in this period and telegrams were the most affordable option for anyone needing to send a quick message over long distances. This poster, which would have been a common site at local post offices, uses simple, stylish graphics to encourage the public to use this service at Christmas.

Post Early at Christmas

In the lead-up to Christmas we are sharing with you 12 Posters of Christmas, a dozen classic postal posters from the Royal Mail Archive. Today’s is…

Poster advertising final posting dates for the festive period; featuring a Christmas tree and a candle, designed by Hans Arnold Rothholz, 1951. (POST 110/1276)

Poster advertising final posting dates for the festive period; featuring a Christmas tree and a candle, designed by Hans Arnold Rothholz, 1951. (POST 110/1276)

From the 1930s until the 1960s the Post Office ran its annual “Post early” campaign, encouraging people to send their letters and parcels as early as possible to avoid a rush in the week leading up to Christmas. We have previously blogged about this campaign and how it became a victim of its own success. A Post Office Regional Director’s Conference paper of 1966 (RD (66) 2, POST 73/122) concluded that the campaign had proved to be “somewhat of an embarrassment since it produces a large volume of traffic before we are ready for it”.

The above poster from 1951 shows the last posting dates as 19 and 20 December, Royal Mail’s recommending posting dates for 2012 can be found on their website. If you are sending a Christmas card or parcel to Canada, Eastern Europe or the United States today is the last day – do not delay!

You can purchase a selection of “Post early” Christmas greeting cards from our online shop. For delivery within the UK please place your order by 18 December.