How did this mail travel? What route did it take to reach its final destination? How long did it take? What obstacles did the mail encounter along the way?
Find answers to these and other questions—and uncover some fascinating pieces of postal history—by exploring different kinds of markings on mail.
Postage rates show what services were requested.
Image: Hope Diamond wrapper, 1958
Postmarks record where and when mail entered and traveled through the system.
Image: U.S. First official airmail by airplane, 1911
Auxiliary markings give routing directions or indicate special services.
Image: WWII suspension of service, 1942
Addresses and Handwriting
Addresses and handwriting provide information about both sender and recipient.
Image: “Subito Subito” letter, 1582
The Envelope’s Condition
The envelope’s condition delivers clues to handling.
Image: Paris balloon mail, 1870