DCSIMG

RFD: Marketing to a Rural Audience


Selling the Box: Mailboxes

Manufacturers recognized the enormous potential of the new rural delivery market to their bottom line. Hundreds of thousands of people across the country were suddenly in the market for a mailbox. The potential demand was sure to rise for at least the first few decades of the 20th century. Mailbox ads appeared in a wide variety of publications. Dozens of manufacturers recognized the potential of advertising to rural postal employees. After all, these would be the men and women the new customers might look to for recommendations. Few of the eager companies’ products would survive long past their initial rush to capture this new and growing market.

Beaver Manufacturing Company
Beaver, PA

Beaver Manufacturing Company advertisement

The Beaver Manufacturing Company dated to the mid 19th century. By the early 20th century it was among the many larger manufacturers looking for an entry into the RFD mailbox market.

Blick-Williams Company
Indianapolis, IN

Blick-Williams Company advertisement

The Blick-Williams Company of Indianapolis, Indiana had little luck finding a place in the crowded rural mailbox market.

Burnham Manufacturing Company
Washington, DC

Burnham Manufacturing Company advertisement
Burnham Manufacturing Company advertisement
Burnham Manufacturing Company advertisement

Arthur M. Burnham of Maine received a patent in 1902 for his design of a rural mailbox. The mailboxes were sold through the Burnham Manufacturing Company of Washington, DC, as well as independent agents.

Century Post Co
Tecumseh, MI

Century Post Company advertisement

The barrel–shaped mailbox advertised by the Century Post Company was patented by A.M. Keeney of Adrian, Michigan in 1901 and assigned to the Century Post Company. The company had good success in selling its mailboxes and ran frequent ads in R.F.D. News. The company moved to Indianapolis, IN where B.F. Crisenberry, H.N. and I. Elmore gathered $5,000 in capital stock to manufacture concrete machinery. In 1916 Crisenberry received patent #1,186,554 for a concrete fence post mold that was assigned to the company.

CG Folsom
Bend, IN

CG Folsom Company advertisement
CG Folsom Company mailbox patent

Charles G. Folsom of South Bend, Indiana, was a tinsmith and manufacturer who produced and advertised the “Ideal” rural mailbox in R.F.D. News. Folsom’s ads appeared in several issues of the magazine in its early years, including this one from 1905. Folsom received patent #655,898 for his mailbox design on August 14, 1900.

HE Hessler Co
Syracuse

Hessler advertisement

E Halister Hessler operated a hardware store in Syracuse, New York. He marketed one style of rural mailbox as “The Hessler.” In an unusual advertising move, the company included a poem to its mailbox as the base of one of its ads.

The Hessler Rural Mail Box
Is one the folks all like;
The handiest of the handy,
The prettiest on the pike.
The height of mail invention
That stands the U.S. test;
The Box that is the safest
The Box that is the Best.

The Hesslers’ Rural Mail Box
Is nothing to wear out;
It is by far the strongest,
Because they make it stout.

It cares not for the weather.
In storm it stands the brunt;
The Hessler Rural Mail Box
Is always at the front.

The Hessler Rural Mail Box
Is one of highest rank;
No rust and no corrosion,
It’s safe as any bank.
It’s made to last a lifetime,
And you are sure it will;
It fills the want long wanted—
In all ways fills the bill.

From far you see its signal
That never plays you tricks;
It’s proof against the burglar,
And never out of fix.
On every road and highway
It has the Right of Way.
The Hessler Rural Mail Box
Is one that comes to stay.

International Mail Equipment Co.
New York, NY

Henry’s Blick-American mailbox advertisement

The International Mail Equipment Company of New York City offered their “Henry’s Blick-American” mailbox design to the public. The design allowed for letters and postcards to be slipped into the mailbox without opening it up (very useful during rain or snowstorms).

H.E. Keefauver Mfg
York, PA

H.E. Keefauver mailbox advertisement

Harry E. Keefauver, born in Maryland, made his home and business in York, Pennsylvania as a metals manufacturer. This advertisement in R.F.D. News was for the company’s “Dispatch” and “Telegram” mailbox models.

A.R. McCelland
Clinton, MO

McCelland Rural Joy mailbox advertisement

A.R. McClelland of Clinton, Missouri named his entry into the rural mailbox market “Rural Joy” and offered up testimony from a local rural carrier official to the box’s strong structure and ease of operation.

Maple Hill Manufacturing Company
Maple Hill, KS

Maple Hill Manufacturing Company advertisement

The Maple Hill Manufacturing Company included metalworker W.S. Isham who designed this mailbox. Isham partnered with local businessmen J.N. and M.E. Dolley, H.R. Williams, and P.C. Chamberlain to build metal water tanks and mailboxes. The company disbanded in its second year of operation.

J.C. Nunn
Bonham, TX

J.C. Nunn advertisement

John C. Nunn was a Texas hardware salesman. Like dozens of other hardware merchants, Nunn offered up a sample mailbox for sale to the national market. Nunn’s boxy design was not unusual, and even with the vaunted Postmaster General seal of approval, the Nunn mailboxes remained a small part of the national market.

Oakes Manufacturing Company
Bloomington IN

Oakes Manufacturing Company advertisement

Lucian R. Oakes began Oakes Manufacturing in Bloomington, Indiana in the early 1890s. The company focused on incubator lamps but also produced mailboxes for a short period of time. The company was relocated to Tipton, Indiana. Their classical revival-style Bloomington building at 211 N. Washington Street is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Jas A Riley & Son
Goshen, IN

Jas A Riley and Son advertisement

James A. Riley & Son was primarily a hardware and sporting goods store. Riley offered carriers the opportunity to sell his mailboxes. This ad offers a dozen mailboxes for the low price of $8. Carriers could then resell the mailboxes to patrons on their routes.

Signal Mailbox Co
Juliet, IN

Jas A Riley and Son advertisement

The Signal Mail Box Company sought its place in the RFD mailbox sweepstakes by calling its design “the original box for rural service.” The design was based on William G. Hawley’s design (patent #687,528, issued November 26, 1901), filed for the Bates Hawley Postal Box Signal Company of San Jose, California. The design was popular with customers.

JB Wooley
Elsie, MI

Jas A Riley and Son advertisement

John B. Wooley began J.B. Wooley Manufacturing in the 1880s with his partner, L.B. Downey. The company manufactured a variety of metal goods. The “Wooley” RFD mailbox was their attempt to find a hold in the new mailbox market.