Tag Archives: Christmas mail

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.

GPO Christmas Posters

The tendency of many people to post letters at the very last minute poses a considerable problem to the Post Office and Royal Mail especially in the run-up to Christmas. The large volume of post, late in the day or only a few days before the Christmas holidays, has made the allocation of resources and the efficient provision of service much more complex and costly since the 1930s. When the GPO Public Relations Department was created in 1934, a poster campaign to educate the public to “Post Early this Christmas” started and some striking and wonderful poster designs were produced. We wrote about this successful campaign in a previous blog and now want to present some of our favourite poster images to set the mood for Christmas – and to remind you to “Shop Early – Post Early.”

Shop Early – Post Early poster (Holly Leaf) by Derek Hass from 1953 (POST 110/4243)

Shop Early – Post Early poster (Holly Leaf) by Derek Hass from 1953 (POST 110/4243)

From the 1930s to the 1960s, the Post Office commissioned well-known designers like Jan Lewitt & George Him, Tom Eckersley or Barnett Freedman for posters informing the public about the correct use of the postal service. Just like modern advertising campaigns, the designers used animals, striking colours and humour to get their message across. Tom Eckersley’s “Be First, Not Last – Travel Early – Shop Early – Post Early” poster from 1955 features a pantomime horse in two halves: the front half (“Be First”) is smiling, the back half (“Not Last”) frowning. Dogs, Cats, Reindeer, Doves and Owls were equally popular motives to educate the public and prevent the Christmas rush.

Be First, Not Last – Travel Early – Shop Early – Post Early by Tom Eckersley from 1955 (POST 110/1340)

Be First, Not Last – Travel Early – Shop Early – Post Early by Tom Eckersley from 1955 (POST 110/1340)

Post Early (Dachshund) by Leonard Beaumont from 1950

Post Early (Dachshund) by Leonard Beaumont from 1950

Santa Claus himself also appears in different shapes and sizes – “on wheels” with his beard flying in the wind (Manfred Reiss, 1952), skating on ice (POST 110/3213 John Rowland Barker c.1951), or flying over a smoking chimney with a bag of parcels (Eric Fraser, 1946).

Travel Shop Post Early (Father Christmas) poster by John Rowland Barker a.k.a. Kraber from 1951 (POST 110/3213)

Travel Shop Post Early (Father Christmas) poster by John Rowland Barker a.k.a. Kraber from 1951 (POST 110/3213)

Post Early and get 20% off BPMA Christmas cards!

Buy your Christmas cards by the 19 November 2012 from the BPMA Online Shop and receive 20% off your Christmas cards order over £10 (before Postage & Packaging). Enter POSTEARLY2012 discount code at checkout, or visit our Public Search Room in London.

Virtual Advent Calendar – 23rd December

In the lead-up to Christmas we are showcasing some of the festive items in our collection across our social networks. Behind the door of our virtual advent calendar today is…

Dyddiadau postio diweddaraf (Latest posting dates) (1983)

Dyddiadau postio diweddaraf (Latest posting dates) (1983)

Poster in Welsh advertising final Christmas postal dates for 1983.

Artist: Not known.

See larger images of all the items in our Virtual Advent Calendar on Flickr.

Virtual Advent Calendar – 22nd December

In the lead-up to Christmas we are showcasing some of the festive items in our collection across our social networks. Behind the door of our virtual advent calendar today is…

Overseas Christmas mail 1981. Recommended last posting dates (1981)

Overseas Christmas mail 1981. Recommended last posting dates (1981)

Poster advertising a leaflet giving final Christmas postal dates.

Artist: Not known.

See larger images of all the items in our Virtual Advent Calendar on Flickr.

Virtual Advent Calendar – 21st December

Virtual Advent Calendar –

In the lead-up to Christmas we are showcasing some of the festive items in our collection across our social networks. Behind the door of our virtual advent calendar today is…

The last date for posting Christmas mail to Japan is… (1970)

The last date for posting Christmas mail to Japan is... (1970)

Poster advertising a leaflet entitled: ‘Guide to Overseas Christmas post dates’.

See larger images of all the items in our Virtual Advent Calendar on Flickr.

Virtual Advent Calendar – 20th December

In the lead-up to Christmas we are showcasing some of the festive items in our collection across our social networks. Behind the door of our virtual advent calendar today is…

Speed the mail at Christmas (December 1968)

Speed the mail at Christmas (December 1968)

Internal GPO poster advising on how best to handle mail at Christmas; featuring a robin and two snowflakes.

Artist: Ripley.

See larger images of all the items in our Virtual Advent Calendar on Flickr.

Virtual Advent Calendar – 18th December

In the lead-up to Christmas we are showcasing some of the festive items in our collection across our social networks. Behind the door of our virtual advent calendar today is…

First Day Cover for Britain’s first Christmas stamps (1966)

First Day Cover for Britain’s first Christmas stamps (1966)

The designs for Britain’s first Christmas stamps came about as the result of a competition for children. Eight professional stamp designers judged the 5000 entries received and eventually awarded the prizes to Tasveer Shemza and James Berry, both aged six. Shemza’s design features King Wenceslas, while Berry’s shows a snowman.

The image of Santa Claus which appears on the First Day Cover was designed by Ann Belshaw.

See larger images of all the items in our Virtual Advent Calendar on Flickr.

Christmas at the Post Office

Each month we present an item from the Morten Collection on this blog. The Morten Collection is a nationally important postal history collection currently held at Bruce Castle, Tottenham.

As part of a Heritage Lottery Funded project, Pistols, Packets and Postmen, the BPMA, Bruce Castle Museum and the Communication Workers Union (the owner of the Collection) have been working together to widen access to and develop educational resources for the Morten Collection.

This month, Keith Shallcross, a retired Post Office Counters manager, chooses one of his favourite items…

Christmas time for Post Office counters was always extremely hectic and stressful. Double pensions, Christmas cards, overseas parcels, queues going out of the door from opening to closing time. Customers also needing to charge electricity and gas tokens. We were still expected to ensure that 95% of customers were served in 5 minutes – an impossible task at this particular time of year. We of course needed to make sure that every person was greeted courteously and dealt with politely at all times.

I remember we were asked some funny things by our customers too at this busy time. One Christmas Eve I was asked if it was possible for a card to reach the USA by Christmas Day!

Poster advising on final Christmas postal dates, 1981.

Poster advising on final Christmas postal dates, 1981.

As the poster says, ‘post a little happiness’. Happiness for us workers was closing at 12.30pm on Christmas Eve after having endured four weeks of Christmas pressure, and then retiring to the pub!

Virtual Advent Calendar – 17th December

In the lead-up to Christmas we are showcasing some of the festive items in our collection across our social networks. Behind the door of our virtual advent calendar today is…

For Christmas send gay Postal Order gift cards. 4d each with envelope (1961)

For Christmas send gay Postal Order gift cards. 4d each with envelope (1961)

Poster advertising postal order accessories.

Artist: Not known.

See larger images of all the items in our Virtual Advent Calendar on Flickr.

Christmas mail arrangements in the 1970s

by Gavin McGuffie, Catalogue Manager

As the season to be jolly comes round once again, chance would have it that I have been getting a section of the Royal Mail Archive concerning Christmas arrangements ready for publication on the BPMA’s online catalogue. All being well the material will go live at our end of February upload. These are files which have gone through the Second Review procedure and have been selected for permanent preservation.

The ‘Christmas arrangements’ files make up a sub-series within a new POST class, POST 157, which consists of registered files created by the Postal Operations Department. There are 27 files in all containing documents from 1942 to 1981 but mainly concentrating on the 1970s when the files were created.

I thought I’d share with blog readers a couple of things that have caught my eye going through this material.

One matter that came up on several occasions in the 1970s particularly from the Post Office Users’ National Council (POUNC) under Lord Peddie was the idea of introducing a concessionary rate for Christmas postage (POST 157/36). By early 1975 Director of Postal Operations Denis Roberts felt the Post Office “need seriously to consider whether we can produce a practical scheme to sustain Christmas postings and stimulate a ‘the Post Office cares’ feeling” focussing on locally sent Christmas cards. However by May 1976 the Post Office Board had agreed “there would be no concessionary rate for Christmas cards in 1976”, a decision they felt was vindicated by the experience of Australia Post who had trialled a concessionary rate for Christmas 1975.

The poor state of affairs between the Post Office and unions at the end of the 1970s is exemplified by disagreements as to what services should be provided over the Christmas holiday period (POST 157/41-2). The unions argued that 27 December should be designated a Post Office holiday and that the final collection on 31 December should take place at noon, demands that the Post Office refused to accede to. The action on both days was sporadic with workers not wanting to lose pay. In a situation report for 27 December D E Remmington of Central Postal Control observed: “While services are being provided over large areas of the country, the fact that many major centres are not operating has limited the traffic available for delivery.”

Telex reporting the effect of the 27 December action on the South Eastern Postal Region

Telex reporting the effect of the 27 December action on the South Eastern Postal Region