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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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Punching Bag: 1918

Punching Bag: 1918

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

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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.

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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