What’s the origin of the words post-box, postage, post office and postman?

Nobody knows for sure, but it is a general consensus that the word is derived from “lamp-post.” For over a thousand years, the working system of messengers running here, there, and everywhere with written messages on their bags eventually developed into the post service. The business really took off in England when King Henry VIII appointed a “Master of the Post” in 1516 in order to maintain a regular and functioning postal service that would run along the main roads located in London. Back then, there were areas where a large box is attached to a lamp-post, and a postmaster (usually also working as an innkeeper) is responsible for passing letters, documents, or a piece of mail on the next lamp-post. The letters inside the box are put there by the people who wanted to send them to others.  The box would eventually be called as the “post-box.” A stagecoach was then used for the same purpose, and the mail went down from one lamp post to the next until it reached the destination. A few years later, the same practice was adopted by the United States of America.

These staging posts also served as stop-over points for mail coaches, where the coachman would usually rest or change his horses. The coachmen or messengers would then be called “post-men” because they are the ones who handle the posts for the customers. The central hub or office for these messengers was then called the “post office.”

When was the post box first used?

It is believed that the post box was first utilized in 1653 when they are installed on lamp posts in Paris. Because of the effectiveness of the post box system, the government of France began utilizing it around the country in 1829. These post boxes were just used by the government and other private firms, although it would eventually turn into a public box in 1842 when Poland used the system in Warsaw.

Despite originating in Britain, the postal service in the country only used post boxes around 1809. Studies suggest that the first post box in England was installed on a wall in the Wakefield Post Office, and the same box can now be seen on the Wakefield Museum. Even though the first post box in Britain wasn’t even installed on a lamp-post, it is assumed that the name stuck with it over the years.

The post box would continue to be produced in a square or rectangular shape in Britain until 1852, when the red pillar post boxes, which are cylindrical in shape and smaller in size, were installed on the island of Guernsey. The island opted to use the pillar post boxes as they are cheaper to build, and they consume less space on the road. In the same year, the government of the United Kingdom began using it in other areas of the country.

When was the first post office created?

Contrary to popular belief that England was the first one to create the postal service, historians suggest that there has been the same service utilized in Egypt in 2,400 BC. However, it was only the Egyptians pharaohs who were able to use the service, as it allows them to remain in their throne while sending a message for people who are far away. The system then spread across India and China, and it would eventually come to the European countries. The first European country that adapted the postal service was Rome, with the first Roman Emperor Augustus being credited for standardizing their postal system called “Cursus Publicus.”

It was during the 16th century when the Princely House of Thurn and Taxis, a family with German heritage, started creating a mail service in Brussels, a region that will eventually become a part of Belgium. The system would then function as a postal service for the Imperial Post of the Holy Roman Empire.

Although there are pieces of evidence showing that postal services existed even before the 16th century, the first official use of the term “post office” is credited to the High Street Post Office in Sanquhar, Scotland. The said post office is operating since 1712, and it is currently still accepting letters for postal service.