SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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T-Mail: 1912

T-Mail: 1912

1912. "Post Office Department. Hupp Auto Railway Service" (i.e., Hupp Automatic Mail Exchange, a system for transferring mail bags to and from a moving train). Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. Note the two utility poles at left that have been scratched off the negative. View full size.

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Sack loader boy

In the early 1950s I worked for a grocer who would pick up mail sacks at the post office and drive them to the train station. I rode in back of the truck with the bags. My job, which paid 25 cents, was to hoist the first class (I guess) sack up onto the crane and then retrieve the sack kicked out of the railcar as the train sped by. This was on the Jersey Central in Port Reading. I was 10 or 11.


It appears that when they erased the gray sky that they tried erasing the posts or poles as well. At least tried to blend it in. No Photoshop in those days, just scraping away emulsion and or painting translucent shades of gray from a bottle, kind of like putting on fingernail polish today.

[This is made from a negative. The sky (and pole tops) were masked out with black ink. - Dave]

Railway mail cranes

The National Postal Museum has this nifty one-page history of the "mail crane" complete with photos and a silent film showing how mail cranes operated (it wasn't as steampunk-automagical as you might hope).

Mail catcher

All of the mail delivery devices I ever saw when I was growing up had only one bag holder. I don't see how a mail clerk could catch more than one bag and get it into the mail car unless the train was moving at a walking pace. The clerk would toss out one bag and then extend the catch hook to grab the bag on the trackside holder. He then had to remove the bag from the catch hook and put it in the mail car.

What am I seeing?

Besides the thumbprint, what is up with what appears to be two poles to the left of the stairs. On the right one I "see" a pair of praying hands and on the left Bambi's head . . . or maybe Elvis. Must you keep playing with my mind? I have so little of it left.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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