Mail

The mail or post is a system for physically transporting postcards, letters, and parcels.[1] A postal service can be private or public, though many governments place restrictions on private systems. Since the mid-19th century, national postal systems have generally been established as government monopolies, with a fee on the article prepaid. Proof of payment is often in the form of adhesive postage stamps, but postage meters are also used for bulk mailing. Modern private postal systems are typically distinguished from national postal agencies by the names "courier" or "delivery service".

Postal authorities often have functions other than transporting letters. In some countries, a postal, telegraph and telephone (PTT) service oversees the postal system, in addition to telephone and telegraph systems. Some countries' postal systems allow for savings accounts and handle applications for passports.

The Universal Postal Union (UPU), established in 1874, includes 192 member countries and sets the rules for international mail exchanges.

Aiga mail inverted
A universal symbol of mail – an envelope
USPS-Mail-Truck
A USPS mail truck in the United States

Etymology

The word mail comes from the Medieval English word male, referring to a travelling bag or pack.[2] It was spelled that way until the 17th century, and is distinct from the word male. The French have a similar word, malle for a trunk or large box, and mála is the Irish term for a bag. In the 17th century, the word mail began to appear as a reference for a bag that contained letters: "bag full of letter" (1654). Over the next hundred years the word mail began to be applied strictly to the letters themselves, and the sack as the mailbag. In the 19th century the British usually referred to mail as being letters that were being sent abroad (i.e. on a ship), and post as letters that were for localized delivery; in the UK the Royal Mail delivers the post, while in the U.S. the U.S. Postal Service delivers the mail. The term email (short for "electronic mail") first appeared in the 1970s. The term snail-mail is a retronym to distinguish it from the quicker email. Various dates have been given for its first use.

Post is derived from Medieval French poste, which ultimately stems from the past participle of the Latin verb ponere ("to lay down or place").[3]

History

Houttakin postitalo
Many early post systems consisted of fixed courier routes. Here, a post house on a postal route in the 19th century Finland

The practice of communication by written documents carried by an intermediary from one person or place to another almost certainly dates back nearly to the invention of writing. However, development of formal postal systems occurred much later. The first documented use of an organized courier service for the diffusion of written documents is in Egypt, where Pharaohs used couriers for the diffusion of their decrees in the territory of the State (2400 BC). The earliest surviving piece of mail is also Egyptian, dating to 255 BC.[4]

Persia (Iran)

The first credible claim for the development of a real postal system comes from Ancient Persia, but the point of invention remains in question. The best documented claim (Xenophon) attributes the invention to the Persian King Cyrus the Great (550 BC), who mandated that every province in his kingdom would organize reception and delivery of post to each of its citizens. He also negotiated with neighbouring countries to do the same and had roads built from the city of Post in Western Iran all the way up to the city of Hakha in the East. Other writers credit his successor Darius I of Persia (521 BC). Other sources claim much earlier dates for an Assyrian postal system, with credit given to Hammurabi (1700 BC) and Sargon II (722 BC). Mail may not have been the primary mission of this postal service, however. The role of the system as an intelligence gathering apparatus is well documented, and the service was (later) called angariae, a term that in time came to indicate a tax system. The Old Testament (Esther, VIII) makes mention of this system: Ahasuerus, king of Medes, used couriers for communicating his decisions.

The Persian system worked on stations (called Chapar-Khaneh), where the message carrier (called Chapar) would ride to the next post, whereupon he would swap his horse with a fresh one, for maximum performance and delivery speed. Herodotus described the system in this way: "It is said that as many days as there are in the whole journey, so many are the men and horses that stand along the road, each horse and man at the interval of a day's journey; and these are stayed neither by snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness from accomplishing their appointed course with all speed".[5] The verse prominently features on New York's James Farley Post Office, although it has been slightly rephrased to Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

India

Red Scinde Dawk stamp
The use of the Scinde Dawk adhesive stamps to signify the prepayment of postage began on 1 July 1852 in the Scinde/Sindh district,[6] as part of a comprehensive reform of the district's postal system.

The economic growth and political stability under the Mauryan empire (322–185 BC) saw the development of impressive civil infrastructure in ancient India. The Mauryans developed early Indian mail service as well as public wells, rest houses, and other facilities for the common public.[7] Common chariots called Dagana were sometimes used as mail chariots in ancient India.[8] Couriers were used militarily by kings and local rulers to deliver information through runners and other carriers. The postmaster, the head of the intelligence service, was responsible for ensuring the maintenance of the courier system. Couriers were also used to deliver personal letters.[9]

In South India, the Wodeyar dynasty (1399—1947) of the Kingdom of Mysore used mail service for espionage purposes thereby acquiring knowledge related to matters that took place at great distances.[10]

By the end of the 18th century, the postal system in India had reached impressive levels of efficiency. According to British national Thomas Broughton, the Maharaja of Jodhpur sent daily offerings of fresh flowers from his capital to Nathadvara (a distance of 320 km), and they arrived in time for the first religious Darshan at sunrise.[11] Later this system underwent complete modernization when the British Raj established its full control over India. The Post Office Act XVII of 1837 provided that the Governor-General of India in Council had the exclusive right of conveying letters by post for hire within the territories of the East India Company. The mails were available to certain officials without charge, which became a controversial privilege as the years passed. On this basis the Indian Post Office was established on October 1, 1837.[12]

Rome

The first well-documented postal service was that of Rome. Organized at the time of Augustus Caesar (62 BC–AD 14), the service was called cursus publicus and was provided with light carriages (rhedæ) pulled by fast horses. By the time of Diocletian, a parallel service was established with two-wheeled carts (birotæ) pulled by oxen. This service was reserved for government correspondence. Yet another service for citizens was later added.

China

Stamp China 1949 4c on 100 silver ovpt
China 4-cent on 100-dollar silver overprint of 1949

Some Chinese sources claim mail or postal systems dating back to the Xia or Shang dynasties, which would be the oldest mailing service in the world. The earliest credible system of couriers was initiated by the Han Dynasty (206 BC–AD 220), who had relay stations every 30 li along major routes.

The Tang dynasty recorded 1,639 posthouses, including maritime offices, employing around 20,000 people. The system was administered by the Ministry of War and private correspondence was forbidden from the network. The Ming network had 1,936 posthouses every 60 li along major routes, with fresh horses available every 10 li between them. The Qing, prior to the foreign occupation and reorganization of the Imperial Mail, operated 1,785 posthouses throughout their lands.

Mongol Empire

Genghis Khan installed an empire-wide messenger and postal station system named Örtöö within the Mongol Empire. During the Yuan Dynasty under Kublai Khan, this system also covered the territory of China. Postal stations were used not only for the transmission and delivery of official mail but were also available for traveling officials, military men, and foreign dignitaries. These stations aided and facilitated the transport of foreign and domestic tribute specifically and the conduct of trade in general.

By the end of Kublai Khan's rule, there were more than 1400 postal stations in China alone, which in turn had at their disposal about 50,000 horses, 1,400 oxen, 6,700 mules, 400 carts, 6,000 boats, more than 200 dogs, and 1,150 sheep.[13]

The stations were 25 to 65 km (16 to 40 mi) apart and had reliable attendants working for the mail service. Foreign observers, such as Marco Polo, have attested to the efficiency of this early postal system.[13]

Other systems

Poczta Główna (Main post office) (9159136558)
An example of a main post office building in Kraków, Poland
Post-cycle-Cologne-508
Delivery by bicycle in Germany

Another important postal service was created in the Islamic world by the caliph Mu'awiyya; the service was called barid, for the name of the towers built to protect the roads by which couriers traveled.[14]

Well before the Middle Ages and during them, homing pigeons were used for pigeon post, taking advantage of a singular quality of this bird, which when taken far from its nest is able to find its way home due to a particularly developed sense of orientation. Messages were then tied around the legs of the pigeon, which was freed and could reach its original nest.

Mail has been transported by quite a few other methods throughout history, including dogsled, ski, balloon, rocket, mule, pneumatic tubes, and even submarine.

Charlemagne extended to the whole territory of his empire the system used by Franks in northern Gaul and connected this service with that of missi dominici.

Many religious orders had a private mail service. Notably, the Cistercians had one which connected more than 6,000 abbeys, monasteries, and churches. The best organization, however, was created by the Knights Templar. The newly instituted universities also had their private services, starting from Bologna (1158).

Widespread illiteracy was accommodated through the service of scribes. Illiterates who needed to communicate dictated their messages to a scribe, another profession now quite generally disappeared.

In 1505, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I established a postal system in the Empire, appointing Franz von Taxis to run it. The Thurn und Taxis family, then known as Tassis, had operated postal services between Italian city states from 1290 onward. Following the abolition of the Empire in 1806, the Thurn-und-Taxis Post system continued as a private organisation into the postage stamp era before being absorbed into the postal system of the new German Empire after 1871.

In 1716 Correos y Telégrafos was established in Spain as public mail service, available to all citizens. Delivery postmen were first employed in 1756 and post boxes were installed firstly in 1762.

Postal reforms

Penny black
The Penny Black, the world's first postage stamp

In the United Kingdom, prior to 1840 letters were paid for by the recipient and the cost was determined by the distance from sender to recipient and the number of sheets of paper rather than by a countrywide flat rate with weight restrictions. Sir Rowland Hill reformed the postal system based on the concepts of penny postage and prepayment.[15] In his proposal Hill also called for official pre-printed envelopes and adhesive postage stamps as alternative ways of getting the sender to pay for the postage, at a time when prepayment was optional, which led to the invention of the postage stamp, the Penny Black.

Modern transport and technology

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R36070, Luftpost
The first airmail flight in Germany, 1912.

The postal system was important in the development of modern transportation. Railways carried railway post offices. During the 20th century, air mail became the transport of choice for inter-continental mail. Postmen started to utilize mail trucks. The handling of mail became increasingly automated.

The Internet came to change the conditions for physical mail. Email (and in recent years social networking sites) became a fierce competitor to physical mail systems, but online auctions and Internet shopping opened new business opportunities as people often get items bought online through the mail.

Modern mail

Modern mail is organized by national and privatized services, which are reciprocally interconnected by international regulations, organizations and international agreements. Paper letters and parcels can be sent to almost any country in the world relatively easily and cheaply. The Internet has made the process of sending letter-like messages nearly instantaneous, and in many cases and situations correspondents use electronic mail where previously they would have used letters. The volume of paper mail sent through the U.S. Postal Service has declined by more than 15% since its peak at 213 billion pieces per annum in 2006.[16][17]

Organization

Some countries have organized their mail services as public limited liability corporations without a legal monopoly.

The worldwide postal system comprising the individual national postal systems of the world's self-governing states is co-ordinated by the Universal Postal Union, which among other things sets international postage rates, defines standards for postage stamps and operates the system of International Reply Coupons.

In most countries a system of codes has been created (referred to as ZIP codes in the United States, postcodes in the United Kingdom and Australia, and postal codes in most other countries), in order to facilitate the automation of operations. This also includes placing additional marks on the address portion of the letter or mailed object, called "bar coding." Bar coding of mail for delivery is usually expressed either by a series of vertical bars, usually called POSTNET coding, or a block of dots as a two-dimensional barcode. The "block of dots" method allows for the encoding of proof of payment of postage, exact routing for delivery, and other features.

APC 77598 Webster Texas
An automated postal machine

The ordinary mail service was improved in the 20th century with the use of planes for a quicker delivery. The world's first scheduled airmail post service took place in the United Kingdom between the London suburbs of Hendon and Windsor, Berkshire, on 9 September 1911.[18] Some methods of airmail proved ineffective, however, including the United States Postal Service's experiment with rocket mail.

Receipt services were made available in order to grant the sender a confirmation of effective delivery.

Payment

Worldwide, the most common method of prepaying postage is by buying an adhesive postage stamp to be applied to the envelope before mailing; a much less common method is to use a postage-prepaid envelope. Franking is a method of creating postage-prepaid envelopes under licence using a special machine. They are used by companies with large mail programs, such as banks and direct mail companies.

In 1998, the U.S. Postal Service authorised the first tests of a secure system of sending digital franks via the Internet to be printed out on a PC printer, obviating the necessity to license a dedicated franking machine and allowing companies with smaller mail programs to make use of the option; this was later expanded to test the use of personalised postage. The service provided by the U.S. Postal Service in 2003 allows the franks to be printed out on special adhesive-backed labels.

In 2004 the Royal Mail in the United Kingdom introduced its SmartStamp Internet-based system, allowing printing on ordinary adhesive labels or envelopes. Similar systems are being considered by postal administrations around the world.

When the pre-paid envelope or package is accepted into the mail by an agent of the postal service, the agent usually indicates by means of a cancellation that it is no longer valid for pre-payment of postage. The exceptions are when the agent forgets or neglects to cancel the mailpiece, for stamps that are pre-cancelled and thus do not require cancellation and for, in most cases, metered mail. (The "personalised stamps" authorized by the USPS and manufactured by Zazzle and other companies are in fact a form of meter label and thus do not need to be cancelled.)

Privacy and censorship

IDET2007 StB steam envelope opener
"The Steamboat" – mobile steaming equipment used by Czech StB for unsticking of envelopes during correspondence surveillance

Documents should generally not be read by anyone other than the addressee; for example, in the United States of America it is a violation of federal law for anyone other than the addressee and the government to open mail.[19] There are exceptions however: executives often assign secretaries or assistants the task of handling their mail; and postcards do not require opening and can be read by anyone. For mail contained within an envelope, there are legal provisions in some jurisdictions allowing the recording of identities of sender and recipient.[20]

The privacy of correspondence is guaranteed by the constitutions of Mexico, Colombia and Brazil, and is alluded to in the European Convention on Human Rights[21] and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[20] The control of the contents inside private citizens' mail is censorship and concerns social, political, and legal aspects of civil rights. International mail and packages are subject to customs control, with the mail and packages are often surveyed and their contents sometimes are edited out (or even in).

There have been cases over the millennia of governments opening and copying or photographing the contents of private mail.[20][22] Subject to the laws in the relevant jurisdiction, correspondence may be openly or covertly opened, or the contents determined via some other method, by the police or other authorities in some cases relating to a suspected criminal conspiracy, although black chambers (largely in the past, though there is apparently some continuance of their use today) opened and open letters extralegally.

The mail service may be allowed to open the mail if neither addressee nor sender can be located, in order to attempt to locate either. Mail service may also open the mail to inspect if it contains materials that are hazardous to transport or violates local laws.

While in most cases mail censorship is exceptional, military mail to and from soldiers on active deployment is often subject to surveillance. In active fighting, censorship may be especially strict to hide tactical secrets, prevent low morale from bad news, etc.

Rise of electronic correspondence

Modern alternatives, such as the telegraph, telephone, telex, facsimile, and email, have reduced the attractiveness of paper mail for many applications. These modern alternatives have some advantages: in addition to their speed, they may be more secure, e.g., because the general public can not learn the address of the sender or recipient from the envelope, and occasionally traditional items of mail may fail to arrive, e.g. due to vandalism to mailboxes, unfriendly pets, and adverse weather conditions. Mail carriers due to perceived hazards or inconveniences, may refuse, officially or otherwise, to deliver mail to a particular address (for instance, if there is no clear path to the door or mailbox). On the other hand, traditional mail avoids the possibility of computer malfunctions and malware, and the recipient does not need to print it out if they wish to have a paper copy, though scanning is required to make a digital copy.

Physical mail is still widely used in business and personal communications for such reasons as legal requirements for signatures, requirements of etiquette, and the requirement to enclose small physical objects.

Since the advent of email, which is almost always much faster, the postal system has come to be referred to in Internet slang by the retronym "snail mail". Occasionally, the term "white mail" or "the PaperNet" has also been used as a neutral term for postal mail.

Mainly during the 20th century, experimentation with hybrid mail has combined electronic and paper delivery. Electronic mechanisms include telegram, telex, facsimile (fax), email, and short message service (SMS). There have been methods which have combined mail and some of these newer methods, such as INTELPOST, which combined facsimile transmission with overnight delivery.[23][24] These vehicles commonly use a mechanical or electro-mechanical standardised writing (typing), that on the one hand makes for more efficient communication, while on the other hand makes impossible characteristics and practices that traditionally were in conventional mail, such as calligraphy.

This epoch is undoubtedly mainly dominated by mechanical writing, with a general use of no more of half a dozen standard typographic fonts from standard keyboards. However, the increased use of typewritten or computer-printed letters for personal communication and the advent of email have sparked renewed interest in calligraphy, as a letter has become more of a "special event". Long before e-mail and computer-printed letters, however, decorated envelopes, rubber stamps and artistamps formed part of the medium of mail art.

In the 2000s (decade) with the advent of eBay and other online auction sites and online stores, postal services in industrialized nations have seen a major shift to item shipping. This has been seen as a boost to the system's usage in the wake of lower paper mail volume due to the accessibility of e-mail.

Online post offices have emerged to give recipients a means of receiving traditional correspondence mail in a scanned electronic format.

Collecting

François Barraud - Le Philateliste
Le Philateliste by François Barraud (1929).

Postage stamps are also object of a particular form of collecting. Stamp collecting has been a very popular hobby. In some cases, when demand greatly exceeds supply, their commercial value on this specific market may become enormously greater than face value, even after use. For some postal services the sale of stamps to collectors who will never use them is a significant source of revenue; for example, stamps from Tokelau, South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands, Tristan da Cunha, Niuafo´ou and many others. Stamp collecting is commonly known as philately, although strictly the latter term refers to the study of stamps.

Another form of collecting regards postcards, a document written on a single robust sheet of paper, usually decorated with photographic pictures or artistic drawings on one of the sides, and short messages on a small part of the other side, that also contained the space for the address. In strict philatelic usage, the postcard is to be distinguished from the postal card, which has a pre-printed postage on the card. The fact that this communication is visible by other than the receiver often causes the messages to be written in jargon.

Letters are often studied as an example of literature, and also in biography in the case of a famous person. A portion of the New Testament of the Bible is composed of the Apostle Paul's epistles to Christian congregations in various parts of the Roman Empire. See below for a list of famous letters.

A style of writing, called epistolary, tells a fictional story in the form of the correspondence between two or more characters.

A makeshift mail method after stranding on a deserted island is a message in a bottle.

Deregulation

Mailboxes
In the United States, private companies, such as FedEx and UPS, compete with the federal government's United States Postal Service, particularly in package delivery. Different mailboxes are also provided for local and express service. (The USPS has a legal monopoly on First Class and Standard Mail delivery.)

Numerous countries, including Sweden (1 January 1993),[25][26] New Zealand (1998 and 2003), Germany (2005 and 2007), Argentina and Chile opened up the postal services market to new entrants. In the case of New Zealand Post Limited, this included (from 2003) its right to be the sole New Zealand postal administration member of the Universal Postal Union, thus the ending of its monopoly on stamps bearing the name New Zealand.

Types of mail

Letters

Pillarboxes
Pillar boxes on the island of Madeira, Portugal. (1st class mail in blue and 2nd class in red)

Letter-sized mail constitutes the bulk of the contents sent through most postal services. These are usually documents printed on A4 (210×297 mm), Letter-sized (8.5×11 inches), or smaller paper and placed in envelopes.

Handwritten correspondence, while once a major means of communications between distant people, is now used less frequently due to the advent of more immediate means of communication, such as the telephone or e-mail. Traditional letters, however, are often considered to harken back to a "simpler time" and are still used when someone wishes to be deliberate and thoughtful about his or her communication. An example would be a letter of sympathy to a bereaved person.

Bills and invoices are often sent through the mail, like regular billing correspondence from utility companies and other service providers. These letters often contain a self-addressed envelope that allows the receiver to remit payment back to the company easily. While still very common, many people now opt to use online bill payment services, which eliminate the need to receive bills through the mail. Paperwork for the confirmation of large financial transactions is often sent through the mail. Many tax documents are as well.

New credit cards and their corresponding personal identification numbers are sent to their owners through the mail. The card and number are usually mailed separately several days or weeks apart for security reasons.

Bulk mail is mail that is prepared for bulk mailing, often by presorting, and processing at reduced rates. It is often used in direct marketing and other advertising mail, although it has other uses as well. The senders of these messages sometimes purchase lists of addresses (which are sometimes targeted towards certain demographics) and then send letters advertising their product or service to all recipients. Other times, commercial solicitations are sent by local companies advertising local products, like a restaurant delivery service advertising to their delivery area or a retail store sending their weekly advertising circular to a general area. Bulk mail is also often sent to companies' existing subscriber bases, advertising new products or services.

First-Class

First-Class Mail in the U.S. includes postcards, letters, large envelopes (flats), and small packages, providing each piece weighs 13 ounces (370 g) or less. Delivery is given priority over second-class (newspapers and magazines), third class (bulk advertisements), and fourth-class mail (books and media packages). First-Class Mail prices are based on both the shape and weight of the item being mailed. Pieces over 13 ounces can be sent as Priority Mail.[27] As of 2011 42% of First-Class Mail arrived the next day, 27% in two days, and 31% in three. The USPS expected that changes to the service in 2012 would cause about 51% to arrive in two days and most of the rest in three.[28]

The British Royal Mail equivalent to USPS First-Class Mail is stylized as 1st Class, and is simply a priority option over 2nd Class, at a slightly higher cost. Royal Mail aims (but does not guarantee) to deliver all 1st Class letters the day after postage.[29]

The Canada Post counterpart is Lettermail.[30]

Registered and recorded mail

CoverCrete1914
Multi-franked registered mail from Crete using Greek stamps during the Union with Greece to Egypt in 1914 showing numbered registration label

Registered mail allows the location and in particular the correct delivery of a letter to be tracked. It is usually considerably more expensive than regular mail, and is typically used for valuable items. Registered mail is constantly tracked through the system.

Recorded mail is handled just like ordinary mail with the exception that it has to be signed for on receipt. This is useful for legal documents where proof of delivery is required.

In the United Kingdom recorded delivery mail (branded as signed for by the Royal Mail) is covered by The Recorded Delivery Services Act 1962. Under this legislation any document which its relevant law requires service by registered post[31] can also be lawfully served by recorded delivery. This act states that any recorded delivery item is deemed to have been delivered at the instant it is posted if; (a) the item is delivered and signed for at the delivery address or handed over and signed for the at local sorting office (see (c)); (b) delivery is refused by any person occupying the address or (c) if the item is not collected from the sorting office within seven days following a non-delivery because there is no reply to the postman and he leaves a collection card. The sorting office will return the item to the sender after the seventh day. The sender should retain the item unopened as proof that the item has been delivered (at least in law if not in fact). Although much case law has attempted to undermine the provisions of the Act, it has done little but reinforce the point.[32]

Repositionable notes

The United States Postal Service introduced a test allowing "repositionable notes" (for example, 3M's Post-it notes) to be attached to the outside of envelopes and bulk mailings,[33] afterwards extending the test for an unspecified period.[34]

Postal cards and postcards

Postal cards and postcards are small message cards which are sent by mail unenveloped; the distinction often, though not invariably and reliably, drawn between them is that "postal cards" are issued by the postal authority or entity with the "postal indicia" (or "stamp") preprinted on them, while postcards are privately issued and require affixing an adhesive stamp (though there have been some cases of a postal authority's issuing non-stamped postcards). Postcards are often printed to promote tourism, with pictures of resorts, tourist attractions or humorous messages on the front and allowing for a short message from the sender to be written on the back. The postage required for postcards is generally less than postage required for standard letters; however, certain technicalities such as their being oversized or having cut-outs,[35] may result in payment of the first-class rate being required.

Postcards are also used by magazines for new subscriptions. Inside many magazines are postage-paid subscription cards that a reader can fill out and mail back to the publishing company to be billed for a subscription to the magazine. In this fashion, magazines also use postcards for other purposes, including reader surveys, contests or information requests.

Postcards are sometimes sent by charities to their members with a message to be signed and sent to a politician (e.g. to promote fair trade or third world debt cancellation).

Other mail services

US mail letterbox
This antique "letter-box" style U.S. mailbox is both on display and in use at the Smithsonian Institution Building.

Larger envelopes are also sent through the mail. These are often composed of a stronger material than standard envelopes and are often used by businesses to transport documents that may not be folded or damaged, such as legal documents and contracts. Due to their size, larger envelopes are sometimes charged additional postage.

Packages are often sent through some postal services, usually requiring additional postage than an average letter or postcard. Many postal services have limitations as to what a package may or may not contain, usually placing limits or bans on perishable, hazardous or flammable materials. Some hazardous materials in limited quantities may be shipped with appropriate markings and packaging, like an ORM-D label. Additionally, as a result of terrorism concerns, the U.S. Postal Service subjects their packages to numerous security tests, often scanning or x-raying packages for materials that might be found in biological materials or mail bombs.

Newspapers and magazines are also sent through postal services. Many magazines are simply placed in the mail normally (but in the U.S., they are printed with a special bar code that acts as pre-paid postage – see POSTNET), but many are now shipped in shrinkwrap to protect the loose contents of the magazine. During the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, newspapers and magazines were normally posted using wrappers with a stamp imprint.

Hybrid mail, sometimes referred to as L-mail, is the electronic lodgement of mail from the mail generator's computer directly to a Postal Service provider. The Postal Service provider is then able to use electronic means to have the mail piece sorted, routed and physically produced at a site closest to the delivery point. It is a type of mail growing in popularity with some Post Office operations and individual businesses venturing into this market. In some countries, these services are available to print and deliver emails to those who are unable to receive email, such as the elderly or infirm. Services provided by Hybrid mail providers are closely related to that of mail forwarding service providers.

See also

Components of a postal system:

Notes

  1. ^ In Australia, Canada, and the U.S., "mail" is commonly used both for the postal system and for the letters, postcards, and parcels it carries; in New Zealand, "post" is more common for the postal system and "mail" for the material delivered; in the UK, "post" prevails in both senses. However, the British, American, Australian, and Canadian national postal services are called, respectively, the "Royal Mail", the "United States Postal Service", "Australia Post", and "Canada Post"; in addition, such fixed phrases as "post office" or "junk mail" are found throughout the English-speaking world.
  2. ^ "mail, n.2". Dictionary.com (Unabridged (v 1.1) ed.). 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-02-19.
  3. ^ Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Company, 1963, pp. 662–63.
  4. ^ Universal Postal Union. "History". Accessed 2 October 2013.
  5. ^ Herodotus, Herodotus, trans. A.D. Godley, vol. 4, book 8, verse 98, pp. 96–97 (1924).
  6. ^ "First Issues Collectors Club of stamps and philatelic material". Archived from the original on 2012-09-04. Retrieved 2007-07-28. First Issues Collectors Club (retrieved 25 September)
  7. ^ Dorn 2006: 145
  8. ^ Prasad 2003: 104
  9. ^ Mazumdar 1990: 1
  10. ^ Aiyangar 2004: 302
  11. ^ Peabody 2003: 71
  12. ^ Lowe 1951: 134
  13. ^ a b Mote 1978: 450
  14. ^ Silverstein, Adam (2006). "Post, or Barid". In Meri, Josef W. (ed.). Medieval Islamic Civilization, An Encyclopedia, Volume 2: L-Z, Index. Leiden and New York: Routledge. pp. 631–632. ISBN 0-415-96692-2.
  15. ^ "Rowland Hill's Postal Reforms". The British Postal Museum & Archive. 2009-08-21. Archived from the original on 24 December 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  16. ^ [about.usps.com/future-postal-service/gcg-narrative.pdf USPS volume report by The Boston Consulting Group on USPS public website]
  17. ^ First Class Mail Volume, 1926–2010 Archived 2012-01-14 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Baldwin, N. C. (1960), p. 5, Fifty Years of British Air Mails, Francis J.Field Ltd.
  19. ^ "United States Code: Title 18, 1702. Obstruction of correspondence". Legal Information Institute of Cornell University Law School. Archived from the original on September 4, 2010. Retrieved September 14, 2010.
  20. ^ a b c Back when spies played by the rules Archived 2007-03-11 at the Wayback Machine, Deccan Herald, January 17, 2006. Retrieved 29 December 2006.
  21. ^ Article 8(1): Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. "European Convention on Human Rights" (PDF). (179 KB)
  22. ^ CIA Intelligence Collection About Americans Archived 2008-12-27 at the Wayback Machine (400 KB download)
  23. ^ "Significant Years in U.S. Postal History". United States Postal Service. 2015. Archived from the original on 27 February 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  24. ^ "Treaties". Postal Matters. United States Embassy, Bulgaria. 25 June 1990. Archived from the original on 19 September 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  25. ^ City Mail, Sweden Archived 2005-07-30 at Archive.today
  26. ^ "Frycklund, Jonas "Private Mail in Sweden", Cato Journal Vol. 13, No. 1 (1993)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-01-29. (511 KB)
  27. ^ "First-Class Mail". USPS. Archived from the original on 2011-10-15. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
  28. ^ "Postal service cuts mean slower mail in 2012". CBS News. Associated Press. 2011-12-05. Archived from the original on 8 October 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  29. ^ "Sending Mail". Royal Mail. Retrieved 2018-04-22.
  30. ^ "Lettermail". Canada Post. Retrieved 2018-04-22.
  31. ^ for example documents served under The Law of Property Act 1925
  32. ^ e.g. Railtrack Plc v Gojra, Kinch v Bullard and most recently Blunden v Frogmore Investments Ltd.
  33. ^ "Postal Service Helps Businesses "Stick" to their Message". 2005-04-05. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-07-17.
  34. ^ "Marketing 'Notes' Extended for Additional Year: U.S. Postal Service Governors Issue Decision on Repositionable Notes". 2007-07-06. Archived from the original on 2007-07-11. Retrieved 2007-07-17.
  35. ^ "Cut-Out Postcard – Postage Due". Members.aol.com. Archived from the original on 2006-03-09. Retrieved 2008-10-24.

Further reading

  • Aiyangar, Sakkottai Krishnaswami; S. Krishnaswami A. (2004). Ancient India: Collected Essays on the Literary and Political History of Southern India. Asian Educational Services. ISBN 978-0-8018-8359-0.
  • Almási, Gábor (2010). Humanistic Letter-Writing. Mainz: Institute of European History.
  • Dorn, Harold; MacClellan, James E. (2006). Science and Technology in World History: An Introduction. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8359-0.
  • Heaton, J. Henniker (1905). "Imperial Postal Services" . The Empire and the century. London: John Murray. pp. 288–317.
  • Lowe, Robson (1951). Encyclopedia of British Empire Postage Stamps (v. III). London.
  • Mazumdar, Mohini Lal (1990). The Imperial Post Offices of British India. Calcutta: Phila Publications.
  • Mote, Frederick W.; John K. Fairbank (1998). The Cambridge History of China. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-24333-9.
  • Peabody, Norman (2003). Hindu Kingship and Polity in Precolonial India. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-46548-9.
  • Prasad, Prakash Chandra (2003). Foreign Trade and Commerce in Ancient India. Abhinav Publications. ISBN 978-81-7017-053-2.

External links

Chain mail

Mail or maille (also chain mail(le) or chainmail(le)) is a type of armour consisting of small metal rings linked together in a pattern to form a mesh. A coat of this armour is often referred to as a hauberk, and sometimes a byrnie.

Daily Mail

The Daily Mail is a British daily middle-market newspaper published in London in a tabloid format. Founded in 1896, it is the United Kingdom's second-biggest-selling daily newspaper after The Sun. Its sister paper The Mail on Sunday was launched in 1982, while Scottish and Irish editions of the daily paper were launched in 1947 and 2006 respectively. Content from the paper appears on the MailOnline website, although the website is managed separately and has its own editor.The paper is owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust. Jonathan Harmsworth, 4th Viscount Rothermere, a great-grandson of one of the original co-founders, is the current chairman and controlling shareholder of the Daily Mail and General Trust, while day-to-day editorial decisions for the newspaper are usually made by a team led by the editor, Geordie Greig, who succeeded Paul Dacre in September 2018.A survey in 2014 found the average age of its reader was 58, and it had the lowest demographic for 15- to 44-year-olds among the major British dailies. Uniquely for a British daily newspaper, it has a majority female readership with women making up 52–55% of its readers. It had an average daily circulation of 1,222,611 copies in November 2018. Between July and December 2013 it had an average daily readership of approximately 3.951 million, of whom approximately 2.503 million were in the ABC1 demographic and 1.448 million in the C2DE demographic. Its website has more than 100 million unique visitors per month.The Daily Mail has been widely criticised for its unreliability, as well as printing of sensationalist and inaccurate scare stories of science and medical research, and for copyright violations.The Daily Mail has won a number of awards, including receiving the National Newspaper of the Year award from the British Press Awards seven times since 1995.

Email

Electronic mail (email or e-mail) is a method of exchanging messages ("mail") between people using electronic devices. Invented by Ray Tomlinson, email first entered limited use in the 1960s and by the mid-1970s had taken the form now recognized as email. Email operates across computer networks, which today is primarily the Internet. Some early email systems required the author and the recipient to both be online at the same time, in common with instant messaging. Today's email systems are based on a store-and-forward model. Email servers accept, forward, deliver, and store messages. Neither the users nor their computers are required to be online simultaneously; they need to connect only briefly, typically to a mail server or a webmail interface for as long as it takes to send or receive messages.

Originally an ASCII text-only communications medium, Internet email was extended by Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) to carry text in other character sets and multimedia content attachments. International email, with internationalized email addresses using UTF-8, has been standardized, but as of 2017 it has not been widely adopted.The history of modern Internet email services reaches back to the early ARPANET, with standards for encoding email messages published as early as 1973 (RFC 561). An email message sent in the early 1970s looks very similar to a basic email sent today. Email had an important role in creating the Internet, and the conversion from ARPANET to the Internet in the early 1980s produced the core of the current services.

Email address

An email address identifies an email box to which email messages are delivered. A wide variety of formats were used in early email systems, but only a single format is used today, following the standards developed for Internet mail systems since the 1980s. This article uses the term email address to refer to the addr-spec defined in RFC 5322, not to the address that is commonly used; the difference is that an address may contain a display name, a comment, or both.

An email address such as John.Smith@example.com is made up of a local-part, an @ symbol, then a case-insensitive domain. Although the standard requires

the local part to be case-sensitive, it also urges that receiving hosts deliver messages in a case-independent fashion,

e.g., that the mail system at example.com treat John.Smith as equivalent to john.smith; some mail systems even treat them as equivalent to johnsmith. Mail systems often limit their users' choice of name to a subset of the technically valid characters, and in some cases also limit which addresses it is possible to send mail to.

With the introduction of internationalized domain names, efforts are progressing to permit non-ASCII characters in email addresses.

Email spam

Email spam, also known as junk email, is unsolicited messages sent in bulk by email (spamming).

The name comes from Spam luncheon meat by way of a Monty Python sketch in which Spam is ubiquitous, unavoidable and repetitive. Email spam has steadily grown since the early 1990s, and by 2014 was estimated that it made up around 90% of email messages sent.Since the expense of the spam is borne mostly by the recipient, it is effectively postage due advertising. This makes it an excellent example of a negative externality.The legal definition and status of spam varies from one jurisdiction to another, but laws and lawsuits have nowhere been particularly successful in stemming spam.

Most email spam messages are commercial in nature. Whether commercial or not, many are not only annoying, but also dangerous because they may contain links that lead to phishing web sites or sites that are hosting malware - or include malware as file attachments.

Spammers collect email addresses from chat rooms, websites, customer lists, newsgroups, and viruses that harvest users' address books. These collected email addresses are sometimes also sold to other spammers.

Gmail

Gmail is a free email service developed by Google. Users can access Gmail on the web and using third-party programs that synchronize email content through POP or IMAP protocols. Gmail started as a limited beta release on April 1, 2004 and ended its testing phase on July 7, 2009.

At launch, Gmail had an initial storage capacity offer of one gigabyte per user, a significantly higher amount than competitors offered at the time. Today, the service comes with 15 gigabytes of storage. Users can receive emails up to 50 megabytes in size, including attachments, while they can send emails up to 25 megabytes. In order to send larger files, users can insert files from Google Drive into the message. Gmail has a search-oriented interface and a "conversation view" similar to an Internet forum. The service is notable among website developers for its early adoption of Ajax.

Google's mail servers automatically scan emails for multiple purposes, including to filter spam and malware, and to add context-sensitive advertisements next to emails. This advertising practice has been significantly criticized by privacy advocates due to concerns over unlimited data retention, ease of monitoring by third parties, users of other email providers not having agreed to the policy upon sending emails to Gmail addresses, and the potential for Google to change its policies to further decrease privacy by combining information with other Google data usage. The company has been the subject of lawsuits concerning the issues. Google has stated that email users must "necessarily expect" their emails to be subject to automated processing and claims that the service refrains from displaying ads next to potentially sensitive messages, such as those mentioning race, religion, sexual orientation, health, or financial statements. In June 2017, Google announced the upcoming end to the use of contextual Gmail content for advertising purposes, relying instead on data gathered from the use of its other services.By February 2016, Gmail had one billion active users worldwide.

Internet Message Access Protocol

In computing, the Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) is an Internet standard protocol used by email clients to retrieve email messages from a mail server over a TCP/IP connection. IMAP is defined by RFC 3501.

IMAP was designed with the goal of permitting complete management of an email box by multiple email clients, therefore clients generally leave messages on the server until the user explicitly deletes them. An IMAP server typically listens on port number 143. IMAP over SSL (IMAPS) is assigned the port number 993.

Virtually all modern e-mail clients and servers support IMAP, which along with the earlier POP3 (Post Office Protocol) are the two most prevalent standard protocols for email retrieval. Many webmail service providers such as Gmail, Outlook.com and Yahoo! Mail also provide support for either IMAP or POP3.

Mail and wire fraud

Mail fraud and wire fraud are federal crimes in the United States that involve mailing or electronically transmitting something associated with fraud. Jurisdiction is claimed by the federal government since the illegal activity crosses interstate or international borders.

Outlook.com

Outlook.com is a web-based suite of webmail, contacts, tasks, and calendaring services from Microsoft. One of the world's first webmail services, it was founded in 1996 as Hotmail (stylized as HoTMaiL) by Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith in Mountain View, California, and headquartered in Sunnyvale. Microsoft acquired Hotmail in 1997 for an estimated $400 million and launched it as MSN Hotmail, later rebranded to Windows Live Hotmail as part of the Windows Live suite of products. Microsoft released the final version of Hotmail in October 2011 and it was replaced by Outlook.com in 2013.

Post office

A post office is a public department that provides a customer service to the public and handles their mail needs. Post offices offer mail-related services such as acceptance of letters and parcels; provision of post office boxes; and sale of postage stamps, packaging, and stationery. In addition, many post offices offer additional services: providing and accepting government forms (such as passport applications), processing government services and fees (such as road tax), and banking services (such as savings accounts and money orders). The chief administrator of a post office is called a postmaster.

Prior to the advent of postal and ZIP codes, postal systems would route items to a specific post office for receipt or delivery. During the nineteenth-century, in the United States, this often led to smaller communities being renamed after their post offices; particularly after the Post Office Department ceased to permit duplicate station names within a state.

Post office box

A post office box (commonly abbreviated as P.O. box, or also known as a postal box) is a uniquely addressable lockable box located on the premises of a post office station.

In some regions, particularly in Africa, there is no door to door delivery of mail; for example, in Kenya. Consequently, renting a PO box has traditionally been the only way to receive mail in such countries. However, some countries, like Egypt, have introduced mail home delivery.Generally, post office boxes are rented from the post office either by individuals or by businesses on a basis ranging from monthly to annual, and the cost of rent varies depending on the box size. Central business district (CBD) PO boxes are usually more expensive than rural PO boxes.

In the United States, the rental rate used to be uniform across the country. Now, however, a postal facility can be in any of seven fee groups by location; in addition, certain customers qualify for free box rental, usually because the Postal Service does not offer carrier-route delivery to their physical addresses.

In the United Kingdom, Royal Mail PO boxes are often little more than pigeon-holes in the secure section of a sorting office and are accessible only by staff. In such cases, the renter of the PO box will be issued with a card showing the PO box number and delivery office name and must produce this to the desk staff when collecting mail. For an additional fee, the Royal Mail will deliver received items to the renter's geographical address.

Some private companies (e.g., United Parcel Service and commercial mail receiving agencies) offer similar services of renting a mailbox in a public location. The difference is that mail sent there is addressed to a street address (along with the private box number), instead of just addressed to "PO Box CSX".

Postcodes in the United Kingdom

Postal codes used in the United Kingdom are known as postcodes (originally postal codes). They are alphanumeric and were adopted nationally between 11 October 1959 and 1974, having been devised by the General Post Office (Royal Mail). A full postcode is known as a "postcode unit" and designates an area with a number of addresses or a single major delivery point.The structure of a postcode is that of two alphanumeric codes, the first made up of between two and four characters, and the second made up of three characters. First, one or two letters indicate the city or region, followed by one or two digits signifying a locality/ area or neighbourhoods in that city/ region. This is followed by a space and then a number and two letters which are allocated to streets, and sides of the street.

The central part of the city or region a.k.a the city centre/ town centre will have the number 1 designation alongside the city code e.g. B1 (Birmingham), LS1 (Leeds), M1 (Manchester) - all central addresses. As a general rule, a higher number indicates distance from that centre. See postcode area.

Postcodes have been adopted for a wide range of purposes in addition to aiding the sorting of the mail: for calculating insurance premiums, designating destinations in route planning software and as the lowest level of aggregation in census enumeration. The boundaries of each postcode unit and within these the full address data of currently about 29 million addresses (delivery points) are stored, maintained and periodically updated in the Postcode Address File database.The initial system of named postal districts, developed in London and other large cities from 1857, evolved towards the present form: in 1917 London was split into broad numbered subdivisions, and this extended to the other cities in 1934. After the reorganisation of London in the 1960s, many parts of the city now lie outside the traditional postcode zone. This includes, but is not limited to, large parts of the "TW" "KT" "SM" "CR" "HA" and "UB" postcode areas, among a few others.

As examples of the postcode system, the postcode of the University of Roehampton in London is SW15 5PU, where SW stands for south-west London, and the postcode of GCHQ is GL51 0EX, where GL signifies the postal area of Gloucester. The postal town can be a wide area and does not relate to a specific town, county or region. GL51 is one of the postcodes for the town of Cheltenham (in Gloucestershire).

Theoretically, deliveries can reach their destination using the house number (or name if the house has no number) and post code alone; however, this is against Royal Mail guidelines, which request the use of a full address at all times.

Royal Mail

Royal Mail (Welsh: Post Brenhinol; Scottish Gaelic: a' Phuist Rìoghail) is a postal service and courier company in the United Kingdom, originally established in 1516. The company's subsidiary, Royal Mail Group Limited, operates the brands Royal Mail (letters) and Parcelforce Worldwide (parcels). General Logistics Systems, an international logistics company, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Mail Group.

The company provides mail collection and delivery services throughout the UK. Letters are deposited in a pillar or wall box, taken to a post office, or collected in bulk from businesses. Deliveries are made at least once every day except Sundays and bank holidays at uniform charges for all UK destinations. Royal Mail generally aims to make first class deliveries the next business day throughout the nation.For most of its history, Royal Mail has been a public service, operating as a government department or public corporation. However, following the Postal Services Act 2011, a majority of the shares in Royal Mail were floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2013. The UK government initially retained a 30% stake in Royal Mail, but sold its remaining shares in 2015, ending 503 years of public ownership. It is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.

As of 13 January 2019, Royal Mail share value is at an all time low.

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

The Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is a communication protocol for electronic mail transmission. As an Internet standard, SMTP was first defined in 1982 by RFC 821, and updated in 2008 by RFC 5321 to Extended SMTP additions, which is the protocol variety in widespread use today. Mail servers and other message transfer agents use SMTP to send and receive mail messages. Proprietary systems such as Microsoft Exchange and IBM Notes and webmail systems such as Outlook.com, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail may use non-standard protocols internally, but all use SMTP when sending to or receiving email from outside their own systems. SMTP servers commonly use the Transmission Control Protocol on port number 25.

User-level email clients typically use SMTP only for sending messages to a mail server for relaying, typically submit outgoing email to the mail server on port 587 or 465 as per RFC 8314. For retrieving messages, IMAP and POP3 are standard, but proprietary servers also often implement proprietary protocols, e.g., Exchange ActiveSync.

The Courier-Mail

The Courier-Mail is a daily tabloid newspaper published in Brisbane, Australia. Owned by News Corp Australia, it is published daily from Monday to Saturday in tabloid format. Its editorial offices are located at Bowen Hills, in Brisbane's inner northern suburbs, and it is printed at Murarrie, in Brisbane's eastern suburbs. It is available for purchase throughout Queensland, most regions of Northern New South Wales and parts of the Northern Territory.

The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail is a Canadian newspaper printed in five cities in western and central Canada. With a weekly readership of 2,018,923 in 2015, it is Canada's most widely read newspaper on weekdays and Saturdays, although it falls slightly behind the Toronto Star in overall weekly circulation because the Star publishes a Sunday edition while the Globe does not. The Globe and Mail is regarded by some as Canada's "newspaper of record".The newspaper is owned by The Woodbridge Company, based in Toronto.

United States Postal Service

The United States Postal Service (USPS; also known as the Post Office, U.S. Mail, or Postal Service) is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government responsible for providing postal service in the United States, including its insular areas and associated states. It is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution.

The U.S. Mail traces its roots to 1775 during the Second Continental Congress, when Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first postmaster general. The Post Office Department was created in 1792 from Franklin's operation. It was elevated to a cabinet-level department in 1872, and was transformed by the Postal Reorganization Act in 1970 into the USPS as an independent agency.The USPS as of 2017 has 644,124 active employees and operated 211,264 vehicles in 2014. The USPS is the operator of the largest civilian vehicle fleet in the world. The USPS is legally obligated to serve all Americans, regardless of geography, at uniform price and quality. The USPS has exclusive access to letter boxes marked "U.S. Mail" and personal letterboxes in the United States, but now has to compete against private package delivery services, such as United Parcel Service and FedEx.Since the early 1980s, many of the direct tax subsidies to the Post Office, with the exception of subsidies for costs associated with the disabled and overseas voters, have been reduced or eliminated in favor of indirect subsidies, in addition to the advantages associated with a government-enforced monopoly on the delivery of first-class mail. Since the 2006 all-time peak mail volume, after which Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act which mandated that $5.5 billion per year be paid to fully prefund employee retirement health benefits, revenue dropped sharply due to recession-influenced declining mail volume, prompting the postal service to look to other sources of revenue while cutting costs to reduce its budget deficit.

Yahoo! Mail

Yahoo! Mail is an email service launched in 1997 through the American parent company Yahoo!. Yahoo Mail provides four different email plans: three for personal use (Basic, Plus, and Ad Free) and another for businesses. By December 2011, Yahoo! Mail had 281 million users, making it the third largest web-based email service in the world. Since 2015 its webmail client also supports managing non-Yahoo e-mail accounts.As many as three web interfaces were available at any given time. The traditional "Yahoo! Mail Classic" preserved the availability of their original 1997 interface until July 2013 in North America. A 2005 version included a new Ajax interface, drag-and-drop, improved search, keyboard shortcuts, address auto-completion, and tabs. However, other features were removed, such as column widths and one click delete-move-to-next. In October 2010, Yahoo! released a beta version of Yahoo! Mail, which included improvements to performance, search, and Facebook integration. In May 2011, this became the default interface. Their current Webmail interface was introduced in 2017.

ZIP Code

A ZIP Code is a postal code used by the United States Postal Service (USPS) in a system it introduced in 1963. The term ZIP is an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan; it was chosen to suggest that the mail travels more efficiently and quickly (zipping along) when senders use the code in the postal address. The basic format consists of five digits. An extended ZIP+4 code was introduced in 1983 which includes the five digits of the ZIP Code, followed by a hyphen and four additional digits that reference a more specific location.

The term ZIP Code was originally registered as a servicemark by the U.S. Postal Service, but its registration has since expired.

Mail and postal systems
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