SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
The Shorpy Archive
6000+ fine-art prints suitable for framing. Desk-size to sofa-size and larger, on archival paper or canvas.
Join and Share

Social Shorpy

Syndicate content
Syndicate content
Syndicate content
Daily e-mail updates:


Member Photos

Photos submitted by Shorpy members.

Colorized Photos

Colorized photos submitted by members.

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]

JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Cubicle: 1920

Cubicle: 1920

Washington, D.C., circa 1920. "Refrigeration box for parcel post, City Post Office." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Too Hot to Trot

Now they have a laundry list of items that cannot be sent through the mails, complete with cartoon renderings of them on post office signs. Perishables are a no-no.

I am with the other posters, though. What in the WORLD were people sending back then that had to be refrigerated? And how would the postmen have gotten the items from that contraption to the recipients without refrigerated TRUCKS i.e. the ice cream man? Bizarre to say the least.

[See Stanton Square's post below. - Dave]

Refrigeration Unit

My family owns a farm with some commercial buildings from 1896. One used to house a grocery store and included a walk in freezer similar in appearance to this one. It was built up with milled wood planks on the inside and outside and filled with fragrant cork insulation. The cooling system consisted of an evaporator and fan on the inside of the box with the compressor / condenser located downstairs in a basement area about 25 feet away.

Roll-tops at last

Many offices have been shown but this is the first one I have seen with roll-top desks and I have watched for them. My dad had one when he worked for the P.O. so, I wonder, is this something they specifically had on their list of acceptable/required furniture. Maybe that's where they kept the beer before refrigerating it.

P.O. Icebox

Its quite hard for me to imagine, but at the time the parcel post was used for delivery of butter, eggs, and milk.

Washington Post, Aug 29, 1914

Parcel Post Ice Box

New Postoffice Here Will Store
Foodstuffs Until Delivery.


Precautions to protect the farm-to-table service by parcel post will be exercised as far as it is possible by the city postoffice organization when it enters its new building near the Union Station early next month. A refrigerator of adequate dimensions to store perishable products delivered by parcel post will be installed, so at least overnight protection will be given butter and milk arriving at the postoffice after delivery hours.

"Though the maintenance of such a refrigerator is not a new thing for the Washington services," said Assistant Postmaster L.J. Robinson yesterday. "the proposed plant at the new city postoffice will have possibilities for improvement which may make it a model for postoffices throughout the country, which are reported contemplating the same plan. A refrigerator is operated in the basement of the present city postoffice in the general building, where cold storage of perishable goods is possible."
"With the operation of our improved refrigerator system at the new city postoffice," said Mr. Robinson. "we hope to have a service above criticism of the public which, it is said, has complained of goods having been spoiled during delivery."

The Icemail Cometh

What in the world did people mail that needed to be refrigerated?

Let's ask the gentleman over on the right, who's been sitting there gazing out the window:

"Excuse me, sir, but exactly what mail needed refrigeration?"
"I dunno. We keep beer in the thing."
"Could it have been perishable medicines that were packed in ice?"
"Yeah, I guess. "

Dead letter office

Now we know where Jimmy Hoffa is.

A New Purpose

They should stuff my local postmaster in this today and come back in a month!


I'm curious where the machinery would be.

Now that's cold

Why would they want or need a "refrigeration box" for parcel post? It isn't like you send ice cream through the mail.

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.

Syndicate content RSS | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Photo Use | © 2018 Shorpy Inc.