Charles Boyer was a tinsmith in Marengo, Illinois in the early 20th century. He produced and advertised stamp and cash boxes for rural carriers. Boyer’s stamp box (and those produced by other manufacturers in the US) was designed for the way rural carriers operated. Unlike city letter carriers, rural carriers served as mobile post offices, bringing with them not only the day’s mail, but also stamps, money orders, stamped envelopes and other postal services. Inside the cash box are a series of sections that could be used to keep cash, stamps, and other items the carrier brought along.
Boyer offered four types of cashboxes. The “Winner” was the cheapest, at $1 each. It was followed by the “Ideal” at $1.25, the “Perfection” at $1.50, and the “Victor” at $1.85. According to his ad, each box could hold 500 stamps and 35 money order applications. All had a coin till and pencil holder. The “Winner” and “Perfection” could also hold three receipt books (registry, money order, and registry delivery). The “Victor” could hold five books, including a list of money order post offices. The boxes were made from galvanized steel with aluminum finishes. The trays for cards and envelopes were enameled “to prevent soiling contents” and the “Winner” was lacquered on the inside. For an additional 15-cents Boyer would add on a padlock for the box.
The cashbox was just a sideline in Boyer’s work. Boyer was an enthusiastic inventor, with patents for adjustable stovepipes and clothesline reels to his credit. But Boyer’s main focus was in the field of vacuum cleaning. His “plunger-type” vacuum design (patented in 1911) was an important step in the development of the modern vacuum cleaner. In one of his ads, Boyer also offered two types of wagon heaters, the “Daisy” and the “Little Giant Portable Gasoline Heater.”
George W. Schweer was unusual among the business owners looking to market products to the new rural delivery market. Schweer was the postmaster of Windsor, Missouri in the early 20th century. Like many rural postmasters, Schweer also owned a general store. The Windsor post office used rural carriers as early as 1902. Schweer’s familiarity with the carriers and their needs led him to create a stamp and cash storage box that he patented on May 9, 1902.
This ad, from 1905, shows that he supplemented his time as the Windsor postmaster by being a sales manager for the Kelk Carriage Works, also located in Windsor. Schweer left postal work for the latest communication medium, becoming the manager of the Missouri Union Telephone Company in Clinton, Missouri, a little over a decade later.