Monday, 21 October 2013

Unusual Mail Transportation/ Post Office Related Stamps

Category - Sight 
Subcategory - Unusual Mail Transportation/Post Offices Related Stamps

This is diversion from my collection of Unusual/Unique Stamps - thanks to a fellow philatelist Mr.Aranya Dutta (Unusual carried Mail and Post Offices ) who evoked my interest in the collection of Stamps/FDC's related to the unusual way mail is/was transported and unusual places where Post Offices were located.   

Examples of the Unusual Mail Transportation are
Pigeon Mail _
Elephant Mail
Camel Mail _
Mule Mail
Dog Sled Mail
Rocket Mail
Train Mail
Stage Coach Mail _
Pony Express Mail
Submarine Mail
Ship Mail or Mail Boats_
Balloon Mail
Tin Can Mail or Canoe Mail_
Bottle Mail_
River Mail
Bus Mail
Space Mail
Underwater Post Offices_
Cave Post Offices
Lake Boat Post Offices _
Mail Cart Post Offices _
Camel Post Office_

The following are from my collection

India 2012 Mahapex Pune - First Day Cover featuring a Silver Souvenir of a 1948 Gandhi Stamp with a Indian Dawk Runner as part of the FDC cachet Limited Edition

Issue date 13 January 2012

On the inaugural day of MAHAPEX - 2012, Pune, a special carried cover with Silver Replica of Gandhi Rs.10/- stamp of 1948 was released. The first day cover also featured the Indian Dawk Runner as part of the cachet design. The number of cover were limited and numbered.

Floating House boat Post

India 2011 Dal Lake Floating Houseboat Post Office, Srinagar First Day Cover

Issue date - 27 September 2011

India's first floating Post Office on a huge House Boat on the picturesque Dal Lake in Srinagar, Kashmir State was inaugurated on 22 August 2011. Normal Postal services are offered. It will also have a philately museum and will sell philately products like stamps, post cards, first day covers and other products.

A Special cover depicting the Floating House Boat Post Office was issued on 27 September 2011

Underwater Post

Vanuatu 2008 Xtreme Postmen of the Underwater Post Office First Day Cover

Issue date - 30 July 2008

Vanuatu Post issued a First Day Cover with 4 Stamps featuring the Xtreme Postmen of the Vanuatu Underwater Post Office located off Hideaway Island near Port Vila. These Xtreme postmen handle hundreds of waterproof postcards left by customers who dive down to the Underwater Post Office to post the postcards offering a unique underwater postal experience.

The Post Office is only 50 metres offshore and at only three metres below the surface is very accessible to young and old alike, and hundreds have participated in posting one of the special waterproof postcards that are available. These cards are collected regularly by one of Vanuatu Post’s four trained scuba divers and “cancelled” underwater with an embossing cachet. Mail that requires a normal Underwater Post Office date stamp is cancelled in the Main Post Office.

The official website for this type of service is

Mobile Coach Post

India 1989 Travellers Coach and Post Office (India 89 World Philatelic Exhibition)

Issue Date 20 January 1989

The stamp shows a Traveller's Coach and Post Office also known locally as Dawk Gharee (Mail Cart). 

The first wheeled cart was used in 1841 in Meerut by one Mr. Smith. Thereafter post offices hired wheel carts. In 1842, the service was introduced between "Mynpooree" and "Allyghur" and later from Aligarh to Delhi and Meerut. 

The illustrated Dawk Gharee belonged to Mr. Beacon of M/s. Greenway and Company, Calcutta. The Company held a licence to carry the Royal Mail/Foreign Mail between Calcutta, Diamond Harbour and Barrackpore. They also carried mail and passengers on the Calcutta-Banaras-Patna route. 

The coachman usually announced his approach whirling his bell-studded whip and sounding his bugle. 

Pigeon Post

India 1989  Bombay Pigeon Mail Service

Issue date 03 November 1989

The India Post to commemorate the first ‘Pigeon Post’ organised by the "Royal Indian Navy" in 1941 was issued on 3rd. November, 1989.

In the State of Maharashtra the Pigeon Mail service was started from Kalyan to Bombay (distance of about 30 Kms) by Vice Admiral Sir Herbert Fitz-Herbert, Flag Officer Commanding, Royal Indian Navy in 1941 during the second world war.

A copy of one such flight covers is seen below (not from my collection)

More details of this service can be found on the blog

Orissa State Police in India was the only state force which maintained this method of communication since 1949. They had adopted 40 homing pigeons from the British Administration when they left India. The force had 926 homing pigeons in 1989 at the time of issue of the stamp in 17 Police Districts.

The pigeons were trained on 3 courses - Static, Mobile and Boomerang.

The static category forms a batch in which pigeons are moved with the forces leaving headquarters for remote areas and are released in the sky whenever the need arises for communicating with Headquarters.

In the mobile category the police take the trailer along with the pigeons to the places of operation.

In the third category, pigeons are trained to deliver and return with the message within their flying area usually restricted to 50 miles both ways.

A pigeon with proper health can fly up to 1000km at a stretch at a height of about 150-200 ft.

The information to be communicated is written on a small sheet and tied around the feet of the pigeon in a small plastic capsule. Usually 2 birds with the same message are released simultaneously so that even if one wanders away or is attacked by hawks, the other will not fail to deliver.

This form of communication were used during emergencies, natural calamities and riotous situations.

This service was discontinued in March of 2002.

Balloon Post

India 1989 Balloon Post - International Balloon Mela First Day Cover 

Issue date - 05 November 1989

A special first day cover with Balloon Post issued for the International Balloon Mela held at New Delhi and signed by the Pilot of the India 'Indradanush' Hot Air Balloon with take off timings from Safdarjung Airport at 1530hrs and arrival at Sainik Farms at 1640hrs. Limited number of covers were issued for the occasion and the covers were numbered.

Antartica Post

India 1989 Dakshin Gangotri Post Office FDC

Issue date 11 July 1989

Dakshin Gangotri, Indian Scientific Station, Antartica was established on 24 February 1984. India Post started sending philatelic mail the to Antartica with the 3rd Indian Scientific Expedition in 1983-84 with a special cancellation at Goa post office.

Dakshin Gangotri Post office was started on 26 January 1988 under the Goa Postal Division. A Special First day cover was issued to commemorate the first year completion of operation of the Dakshin Gangotri Post office on 11 July 1989.

Camel Post

India 1986 Mobile Camel Post Office (The 5th India National Philatelic Exhibition)

Issue date - 14 February 1986

The 5th India National Philatelic Exhibition, 1986 is being held at City Palace, Jaipur from 14 Feb. 1986 to 19 Feb. 1986 under the auspices of the Department of Posts in co-operation with the Philatelic Congress of India. 

Postage stamp of 200p denomination shows a Mobile Camel Post Office functioning in the Bikaner District of the Thar Desert. Generally camels used to bear the postal articles on their back and wait in a particular time of a day in different locations of the desert. People know these timings and come to meet their postal needs. 

Bottle Post 

Ascension Island 1980 History of Mail Transportation (Bottle post)

Issue date 01 May 1980

Miniature sheet  "History of Mail Transport" with 4  mint stamps issued for London 1980 Exhibition. 

4 stamps in this set - 

8p: 17th Century Bottle Post, Ship anchored near Ascension; 

12p: 19th Century Chance Calling Ship [36 gun frigate]; 

15p: Regular Mail Service 1863, [ship "Garth Castle"]; 

50p: Mail Services, 1980 [Ship "St. Helena" and a Lockheed C-141 aircraft flying over island], this aircraft brought mail to the island, especially to the U.S. Space Tracking Station. 

Each stamp has the "London 1980" logo

Tin Can Mail / Canoe Mail

The Tonga Islands are famous for the  "Tin Can Mail". The Tonga islands where many merchants lived, they purchased dried coconut and mussels from the islanders .  Meaty coconuts that were important sources of oil used in the manufacturing of soap. The post of these traders was delivered by ships, which also took care of the transport of the goods purchased. 

The merchants would be waiting for their post for months, especially in the island Niuafo'ou. If a captain had only island letters on board and if he did not like the dangerous reefs, correspondence was enclosed in large biscuit tins, which was simply thrown overboard. The natives swam to the ship and brought the Tins to land. This led to the establishment of the "Tin Can Mail" in 1882. 

But after an accident with a shark, the natives rowed in canoes to the ship to pick up the Tin cans containing the mails. Hence the term Tin Can Mail or Canoe Mail.  

Tin Can Mail was developed by a trader named Walter George Quensell, who festooned the mail with many colourful cachets that have become a collectors' item. The Tongan government took over this tradition with special Niuafoʻou stamps since 1983.

Some of the First Day covers in my collection are displayed below - Some FDC's have ' Tin Can Mail' in various languages (Like Dutch - Blikken Bus Post, Nowegian - Blikk Boks Post, Tonga - Maili Fetuku Aki Kapa, to take advantage of the Tourist Visiting the Islands and the FDC's becoming an item of tourist interest.

Issue date 02 March 1968

Two of my collection was sent from the Matson Lines which had 4 Cruise ships visiting the Island.

Letter sent from Matson Lines - SS Mariposa with letter and souvenir sheet. Posted on 28Sep1964 from the Ship and Postmarked on Niuafo'ou on 30 Sep 1964.

Letter sent from Matson Lines - SS Monterey with souvenir sheet. Postmarked on Niuafo'ou on 19 March 1978.

Tonga 1982 Tin Can Mail Centenary Miniature Sheet

Issue date 29 September 1982

Mails sent by Mail Boats

Some of the earlier mails were sent by mail boats to different island colonies. Some of the Mail boats have been featured on miniature sheets issued by different countries. The following are from my collection.

IOM 1980 Steam Packet Company - Mail boats of Isle of Man

Issued on 06 May 1980

Guernsey 1972 - Mail Boats of Guernsey 

Issued 10 February 1972

Disclaimer - Information about the stamp issues on this page has been taken from the net and are for informational purposes only. No copyright claim is made for the above mentioned information/pictures. 


  1. You have some interesting items - we are interested in collecting postcards on unusual post offices and/or unusual means for transporting mail in order to put together a one frame exhibit. We have made contact with Arayna.
    Any assistance would be appreciated.
    Many thanks
    Vivienne and Tony Scott
    Sydney Australia

  2. Very nice- Will like to collect 1 piece of each of these unusaual means of transport. Can you help me?
    Kuruvilla PK

  3. It's great that you've shared Stamps. And you have provided information about the stamp, it is very important. Thank you so much for this Grenville Zipcode