Notes from the Past

Ambulante

The word "ambulante" is a French term designating a traveling post office, usually on a train. In many countries, however, post offices were also established on ships, streetcars, and other conveyances.  A horse-drawn wagon service was used briefly in Washington, D.C., New York City, Buffalo, New York, as well as in Carroll County, Maryland.

After World War II rail service declined in the United States and Highway Post Offices (HPOs) in the form of large trucks appeared.  These, too, have been displaced by airmail service.  Large trucks are still used for the transport of mail between sorting facilities, however, they are not involved in processing the mail.

The term "ambulante" sometimes appears in postal markings of Belgium or France to indicate mail carried on a railway or highway traveling post office.  German uses the term "bahnpost" similarly.  The initials RPO, RMS, and HPO were used in North America to indicate mail processed by a traveling post office.
 

- adapted from Kenneth A. Wood
This is Philately - Volume One A - F
Van Dahl Publications 1982
Posted May 1, 2000

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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