Tag Archives: Christmas mail

Virtual Advent Calendar – 16th 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…

Post early (c. 1950)

Post early (c. 1950)

Artwork for a poster.

Subject: ‘Post early for Christmas’ campaign.

Artist: West One Studios.

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

Virtual Advent Calendar – 15th 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…

Send him greetings on a Christmas Airgraph form (1943)

Send him greetings on a Christmas Airgraph form (1943)

Poster advertising seasonal airgraphs.

Artist: Austin Cooper.

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

Virtual Advent Calendar – 11th 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…

King Edward Building Foreign Section, Christmas mails for the empire – airborne traffic (1938)

King Edward Building Foreign Section, Christmas mails for the empire - airborne traffic (1938)

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

Letters to Santa

For many years children writing to Santa were disappointed when he appeared to return their letters without a word. Until 1963, letters addressed to him care of a fictional address were returned to sender because of the legal requirement to treat them as undeliverable. But in 1963, Royal Mail’s scheme to reply to letters sent to Santa began. Mail addressed to Father Christmas c/o Snowland, Toyland, Reindeerland or any other fictional address would be dealt with separately. The Post Office would send a card from Father Christmas inside an envelope with a ‘Reindeerland Postage Paid’ cancellation stamp.

Letter to Santa Claus, 1963

Letter to Santa Claus, 1963

Not all letters to Santa would be dealt with by the Post Office. There were already some commercial and charitable organisations providing this service, and the Postmaster General did not want to divert mail away from them. So letters marked ‘Father Christmas, c/o Gamages’ for example, would still be delivered to that address. Similarly, the Post Office was obliged under international regulations to continue to forward the 80,000 letters address to Santa in other countries, most commonly Greenland and Denmark, to be dealt with by their respective postal services.

Reply from Santa Claus which appeared in a specially designed greetings card, 1963

Reply from Santa Claus which appeared in a specially designed greetings card, 1963

Other countries had different schemes in place, and the Post Office considered the advantages and disadvantages of their methods before adopting one. In Denmark, for example, the postal service asked children to enclose a postal order for one kroner, in return for which children received a gift and profits were donated to charity. However, this idea was considered too controversial and legally complex, and in the end the Post Office opted for the free and simpler scheme similar to the one already in place in France.

Thank you letter to Santa Claus

Thank you letter to Santa Claus

At the start of the scheme it was difficult to predict how many letters would actually need answering. Only those letters with return addresses could be responded to of course, which was about a quarter of the total sent. At Post Office Headquarters in 1963 five clerical assistants carried out the work of opening, sorting and addressing the envelopes. That year 8000 cards were sent.

Specially designed reply card from Santa, 1964

Specially designed reply card from Santa, 1964

The scheme was very well received by the press, and the Postmaster General Reginald Bevins was labelled Santa ‘Bevins’. Since then, Santa has continued to work hard sending out cards each year, and he even has his own postcode: SAN TA1! This year, children hoping to receive a response from Father Christmas have until 15 December to post their letters to him.

Sources: POST 122/6325POST 122/6339, Royal Mail Archive

Virtual Advent Calendar – 10th 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…

Post earlier for this Christmas (c. 1935)

Poster advising on early posting times over the festive period.

Poster advising on early posting times over the festive period.

Artist: Leonard Beaumont.

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

Virtual Advent Calendar – 8th 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…

Notice: Christmas Mails for Abroad (20th Century)

Notice: Christmas Mails for Abroad (20th Century)

Notice with approximate date of dispatch for Christmas mail for abroad within a simple red line border. Destinations and dates are printed in black with headings printed in red. Notice includes ‘You can Post your Christmas Cards for 1/2d for each 2oz’ and ‘It is wise to post one day earlier than these dates: in the provinces two days earlier’.

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