A local post is a mail service that operates only within a limited geographical area, typically a city or a single transportation route. Historically, some local posts have been operated by governments, while others, known as private local posts have been for-profit companies. Today, many stamp collectors operate hobbyists' local posts, issuing their own postal "stamps" for other collectors but rarely carrying any mail.
Official local posts
From 1840 onwards, when postage stamps were first introduced, special stamps were often issued; for instance the cantons of Switzerland issued stamps for use within a canton, and inscribed them "Poste-Local" or "Orts-Post". The Russian province of Wenden issued stamps for a local post from 1862 to 1901, while Nicaragua issued stamps for Zelaya only, due to its use of a different currency.
In rural Russia Zemstvo Post handled local mail independently of the central government; some of these lasted until the 1917 revolution.
Private local posts
Many countries have had private local posts at one time or another. Usually these operated with the acquiescence of the government, and at other time in competition. Types of local posts included intra-city systems, transcontinental delivery (such as the Pony Express), and riverboat routes. Many of these existed for only short periods, and little is known of their operations. Some of their stamps are among the great rarities of philately.
In 1865 the local post distribution company Liannos et Cie was established in Constantinople to distribute mail arriving in the city which was not addressed in Arabic as the staff of the Ottoman Postal Service were not able to do so. In 1866 a second service was set up on behalf of the Egyptian post office operating in the city to solve the same problem. Both services were short lived.
Private local posts of the United States
Private local posts typically issue their own stamps, which can become collectors' items. These stamps are typically cancelled with special cancellations, and their first day of issue can be thus commemorated.
The world renowned philatelist, the late Herman Herst Jr., is considered the father of the modern United States local post having started his Shrub Oak Local Post in the early 1950s. He called his issues "stamps" and most local posters today call their issues "stamps" also. It was the philatelic press that got into the practice of calling them local post "labels" so as not to confuse beginning collectors.
American Letter Mail Company
In 1844, Lysander Spooner founded the American Letter Mail Company, competing with the legal monopoly of the United States Post Office (USPO), now the United States Postal Service (USPS), in violation of the Private Express Statutes. It succeeded in delivering mail for lower prices, but the U.S. Government challenged Spooner with legal measures, eventually forcing him to cease operations in 1851.
An example of a private modern day local post currently in operation is Hawai'i Post.
Independent Postal System of America
In 1968, Thomas M. Murray (1927–2003) founded the Independent Postal System of America (IPSA) as a nation-wide commercial carrier of Third and Fourth Class Mail, in direct competition with the United States Post Office (USPO), now the United States Postal Service (USPS). But in 1971, when the company entered the First Class delivery business, they endured a number of lawsuits brought against them, which finally led to the company's collapse in the mid-1970s. The company issued a number of stamps during the years of its operation, including commemoratives for Lyndon B. Johnson, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Charles Lindbergh before the USPS did.
Rattlesnake Island is an 85-acre (0.344 km2) island located on Lake Erie near Put-In-Bay, 11 miles (18 km) northeast of Port Clinton, Ohio, and has the only USPS-sanctioned local post operating in the United States. For many years, service was provided by way of a Ford Trimotor which shuttled mail between the island and the mainland. From 1966 to 1989, USPS mail was routed by way of Port Clinton, Ohio. Today, outgoing mail from the island enters the USPS mail stream by way of Sandusky, Ohio. Local Post service began in 1966 and continued through 1989, when the island was sold and the new owners discontinued the service. It was restarted in 2005 and continues to the current day.
Hobbyists' local posts
Today's Local Posters issue their local post "stamps", and issue a variety of commemorative "stamps" covering a wide range of events or personal interests, of subjects that are not normally issued by their own countries' postal services.
In some cases these modern day local posts have issued stamp subjects before their own country issued the same subject. The Free State Local Post issued an Audie Murphy stamp long before the U.S. Postal Service issued one of the same subject. The Ascension AAF Local Post, located on the island of Ascension in the South Atlantic Ocean, in 1972 commemorated the anniversary of the first aircraft to land at Ascension Island. This same subject was commemorated by the Ascension Island postal system in 1982.
This sort of local post is effectively a "home-brewed" postal system, and the typical hobbyist carries little, if any, mail (though some do carry mail over a short distance for themselves or a few people).
The Local Post Collectors' Society established in 1972, coordinates communication among local posters. The LPCS issues a regular Bulletin The Poster to its members around the world, relating stories of local posts, showing new issues and other related items.
- The Local Mail Stamps of the British Levant by Tony Stanford, Maidenhead & District Philatelic Society, 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
- "Hawai'i Post". Hawaii-post.com. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
- "Independent Postal System of America". Wichitastampclub.org. Retrieved 2008-10-26.[dead link]
- Friday, Aug. 16, 1968 (Friday, Aug. 16, 1968). "A New Postman Cometh - TIME". Time.com. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
- "Alphabetilately: L is for Local stamp". Alphabetilately.com. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
- Monday, Apr. 02, 1973 (Monday, Apr. 02, 1973). "The Private Postmen - TIME". Jcgi.pathfinder.com. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
- "CIO v. Independent Postal System of America". AltLaw. Retrieved 2009-02-01.[dead link]
- "WYOM Found Document:National Ass'n of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO v. Independent Postal System of America, Inc". Wyom.state.wy.us. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
- "American Postal Workers Union, Detroit Local v. Independent Postal System of America, Inc.". AltLaw. Retrieved 2009-02-01.[dead link]
- "National Association of Letter Carriers, Afl-Cio, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Independent Postal System of America, Incorporated, and Thomas M...". vLex. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
- "Sanford L. Byrd Collection - Martin Luther King Part V". Ebony Society of Philatelic Events and Reflections. Retrieved 2009-01-30.
- "ASCENSION AAF Local Post Information Sheet - Joe Frasketi's Space Covers". Spacecovers.com. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
- "Local Post Collectors Society". localcollectorspost.org. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
- Stanley Gibbons Priced Catalogue of The Local Postage Stamps of the World. London: Stanley Gibbons, 1899.
- L.N. & M. Williams. Priced Catalogue of Local Postage Stamps with Erik F. Hurt, 1942. Supplement 1948.
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