Victorian Post Office Curiosities: A Treasure from the Archives

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Victorian Post Office Curiosities is a collection of more than 200 curious, unusual, and “difficult-to-deliver” covers assembled by Letter Carriers at the Melbourne GPO over the period 1894-1911 housed in a leather-bound ledger volume. It also includes a number of newspaper clippings related to the collection itself, the postal service of the day and other odd items.

The Letter Carriers had to deal with foreign languages, incomplete and unintelligible addresses, indecipherable handwriting and addresses in code, pictures or maps. The postal staff and Letter Carriers were extremely proud of their work and wanted to display their perseverance, dedication and problem solving skills. Hence, the delivered covers were begged back for display.

The ledger volume was transferred from the PMG Victorian Administration to the National Archives of Australia (NAA) in 1958. The volume underwent preservation treatment in 2006 and became one of the first of the Archives’ treasures to be digitised and made available on the web. This NAA record can be located using the Advanced Search function at via its Title or Series number (MP311/103).
For the first time since its digitization, Victorian Post Office Curiosities will be made available with complementary background research and detailed commentary on every item

Every detail on every item has been transcribed including the address, postmarks, backstamps and endorsements; some of this information is on the reverse, or written on the ledger itself, so is not available in the digitised version. Each addressee and address has been researched to reveal something of the lives involved and/or history of their location. A significant number of entries relate to European immigrants, particularly Italians, who began arriving in Victoria from the 1850s. It is a fascinating journey during which we encounter judges, miners, deserters, debtors and even the “Post Office Cat”.

This book will be of interest to postal historians, students of Melbourne & Victorian history around 1900, and some archivists and genealogists. The book is fully referenced and features almost 250 historical images in addition to those in the NAA volume itself. It also contains a comprehensive index listing people, place and ship names for those interested in further research.

357 pages, colour illustrations

Additional information

Weight1 kg