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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.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Mailometer: 1916

Mailometer: 1916

Washington, D.C., 1916. "Post Office Department, sealing machine." Which is a Mailometer. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

The Finger

Looks like she is wearing what they call a "Finger Cot" to help in sorting

Pushing the Envelope

Such a dignified lady, but oh she looks so weary of life.


One commenter noted her beautiful hand and long fingers, while another was concerned that her tie might get caught in the machinery. But on looking more closely at her hand, I fear that perhaps it was her middle finger that got caught in the Mailometer.

[Is she wearing one of those rubber-thimble-things? - Dave]

ETA: Maybe... or a bandage? We can only hope.

Her hands

OK, hand, as you can only see one. The PO machinery is interesting, but I'm more taken with that beautiful hand. Look how long her fingers are; she could probably reach two octaves! Wonder if she played piano?


The use of "USPS" in this context brings out the pedantic in me (like that's difficult). At this time and up until 1970, it was the Post Office Department, a Cabinet-level executive department just like State, Agriculture, War, etc. The Postmaster General as well as the local Postmasters were appointed by the President, and the Department's finances controlled by Congress. The PMG post often went to the President's campaign manager (e.g., James Farley in the FDR administration and Larry O'Brien in JFK's). The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 removed it from the cabinet, eliminated the political patronage and transformed it into an independent Executive Branch agency funded by postage revenue rather than Congressional appropriation, and renamed it The United States Postal Service.

Early generation android?

Why does it look like someone tried to drive a stake through her heart and missed? Maybe it is an on/off button. The USPS's early attempt at automation.

A Tie

That tie is giving me the willies! I can't believe they'd allow such a thing amongst whirling and spinning machinery.

Sealing mail

Before anybody asks "Since when is it the Post Office's job to seal mail?" I'll point out that this is undoubtedly Post Office Dept. Headquarters and those are probably official missives being sent out to the hinterlands or some other kind of info dump. It does, though, looks a lot like a "Flyer" cancelling machine, and I was all ready to hit the "AHA!" button before I took a closer look

Dress Up

It's amazing how well people in so called white collar job dressed. These days we're lucky if they wear shoes and not sneakers or sandals.

[Her co-worker in another photo is wearing the same thing. - Dave]

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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