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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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Special Delivery: 1917

Special Delivery: 1917

Washington, D.C., circa 1917. "Post Office postmen on scooters." Kind of a Segway vibe here. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

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Scooter spot today

This was at the Main Post Office (now the National Postal Museum) adjacent to Union Station. Here's the spot today, on North Capitol St. NE.

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"Wow, you'd think we would have learned our lesson already. Remember how the Segway was going to change the world?"

Not at $5,000 each (the price that I've seen), they wouldn't.

The Mailman Cometh

I second your comment with a hubba hubba. Forget the milkman, bring on the mailman!

Special-Delivery Messengers

These aren't regular letter carriers, aka mailmen, but special-delivery messengers. According to Sec. 864 PL&R (Postal Laws and Regulations) of 1913, these could be, at the discretion of the local postmaster, "boys 16 years of age or older." Contemporary Special Delivery postage stamps bore illustrations of such uniformed boys riding on bicycles:

Precursor to Segway

Wow, you'd think we would have learned our lesson already. Remember how the Segway was going to change the world?

I think they are used in Post Offices (somewhere), and I have seen police use them.

Cool it ain't

Do you suppose these men felt as dorky as they look?


In the window, you can just barely see a sign for the Hotel Harrington (which would put this at least after 1914). That would mean that this could be the post office on Penn between 12th and 13th.

Pretty simple design.

Looks like its basically a horizontal shaft engine with the front wheel being attached to the shaft, with some sort of clutch mechanism. Guess it gave mailmen the chance to get away from the local dogs.


They don't make mailmen the way they used to.

Smithsonian has one

It's here. A 1918 model with some usability improvements but not as spiffy looking.

Flash in the Pan?

Looks like they had the staying power of Segues, also.

Wonder no more:

You hit a small rock or crack in the pavement and over the handle bars you go. Perhaps too many carriers were going onto the injured list.

I wonder

I wonder why these didn't catch on? They look almost identical to some of the *extremely* noisy motorized scooters we have today. Perhaps they broke down, or they made an ungodly racket, or people just weren't so walking-averse as they are today.

Cool old scooters

Early Autoped Ever-Ready scooters. They were new in 1914, according to Wikipedia, so that narrows the date of the photo down a bit.

[Thanks! Below: Article from 1914, ad from 1916. - Dave]

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