Friday, 1 May 2015

Postal packratism - mustering mailboxes

When I receive a letter from a brand-new penpal, I'm often asked, "What do you collect?" How would you answer that question?

I'm guessing that most of us, whether clutterbugs or minimalists, confess to collecting something. My husband, Steve, tells me that he had an apple stem collection when he was a little boy. From there, he went on to collect statistics on just about everything, from his favourite sports teams to how many times he listened to each of his music albums.

As for myself, I have moved so many times - downsizing radically, out of both necessity and choice - that most of my collecting genes have been lying dormant. (Well, unless you count the reams of stationery, pens and stickers that I keep on hand for my letter-writing habit!)

But I have maintained one collection that is important to me: my mini mailboxes & postal paraphernalia.

Over the years, I've managed to pick up post boxes of various nationalities. From homegrown Canada Post, I have the tall red box in the photo (it's a bank), whose larger version is ubiquitous throughout my native land. Plus I've got some special-edition tiny versions of it, which can hold and dispense a roll of stamps. These smaller boxes honour, from left to right, above: the Toronto Maple Leafs (blue - National Hockey League team), the Saskatchewan Roughriders (green - Canadian Football League team), the Toronto Argonauts (navy - Canadian Football League team) and the 2010 Vancouver Olympics (white). A couple of other unique finds are the Xmas ornament mailbox on the left, featuring a working flag that goes up and down and a friendly hedgehog holding a letter; and the zamboni beside it, which is yet another stamp dispenser.

From the US Postal Service, I've picked up the standard blue mailbox (another bank), a small replica of the ones found on streets across the country, a white postal truck whose side and back doors beg to be opened, and, on the far right, a very small silver stamp dispenser in the shape of a generic post box.

While traveling in Europe, I was lucky to find a few other gems. First, the iconic red pillar box of the UK's Royal Mail (which is a bank). I've added as well the equally iconic red telephone box (yet another bank). Even though it is not a mailbox, it is too appealing to leave out! Post Danmark's red box, to the left of the American blue box, is - you guessed it - a bank, too. But its unique Danish twist is to come with a key, which opens the sizeable door in the front. Finally, the silver mailbox with the teddies on it came from our 10th anniversary trip to Andalucia, Spain. This time, the box is a sticker dispenser, coming with a roll of stamp-themed stickers.

Not all of my mailbox collection is tiny, though. Here is my largest acquisition. This British pillar box replica is not only handsome but also practical - it holds 88 CDs. It was one of those rare finds - when we were living, of all places, in rural northern Saskatchewan. One morning, we made the 2 1/4 hour drive to our closest small city, Yorkton, to go shopping for the day. On a whim, we went to the local liquidation outlet to browse. And there was the post box! We decided we couldn't leave without it, and since then it's been a mainstay of our living room decor, as well as a wonderful conversation piece and storage device.

So now I'm curious...what sorts of mailbox replicas have you seen? Does your region or national postal system produce any? If so, please let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear from you - and maybe do a swap to add your country's mailbox to my modest collection!