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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

Punching Bag: 1918

Punching Bag: 1918

Washington circa 1918. "P.O. Dept., mail bags." Harris & Ewing. View full size.

 

Holes

The metal back of that chair was hard on his vest. I suppose his jacket would have covered up the damage, though I'm surprised he hasn't had it patched. I noticed his work shirt has built-in elbow patches.

Nanny would be horrified

Here in the UK in the 21st century he'd be out of a job because his employer wouldn't be able to afford all the guards, safety devices and cutouts that machine would have to have. The machine would be done away with and shipped to India to be melted down; he'd retrain to work in a call centre and they'd outsource the mailbag work way, way East of here . . .

Punching holes

These holes in the canvas are where grommets are inserted. Hooks on racks slipped into the grommets to hold a sack or pouch open so that mail could be thrown into them by a distribution clerk. This view is within the Mail Equipment Shops at 2135 Fifth Street N.E. Mail pouch and sack production at the building was discontinued around 2002.

Frank R. Scheer
Railway Mail Service Library

[Below, an exterior view. - Dave]

Bag man

He's making a No. 1 sack, the largest, used to transport parcel post. Second and third in size were, appropriately enough, No. 2 and No. 3 sacks. Canvas sacks were extremely durable. They had the month and year of manufacture stenciled on them, and it wasn't unusual to see up to 20-year-old ones. They were also filthy. They've been mostly phased out in favor of nylon or disposable plastic sacks, or entirely different methods of containerization. Another belt-powered operation, I note.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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