Notes from the Past

The Duties of the Postmasters - Part VI

After completing the first examination of the incoming mails attention was paid to the accounting process.  The Regulations for the Government of the Post Office Department included in Postal Laws and Regulations for the Government of the Post Office Department published in 1847 continues:

Opening the mail.

     102.  Having carefully examined the post bills, and found them right or discovered and corrected their errors, as well in casting up, as in the particulars above mentioned, every postmaster will enter their contents in the Account of mails received, stating the name of the office (and State, if out of his own,) from which each bill came.
    103.  Every postmaster will enter the amount of unpaid letters, as it is charged in the bill, whether the charge be correct or erroneous.  If erroneous, it falls either under the denomination of undercharged or overcharged, and by an entry of the sum, under or overcharged, in the proper column, that error is balanced.
    104.  All letters received by mail are to be entered in the Account of Mails received, though no post bill accompany them, and the fact should be noted on the account that no post bill was received.
    105.  Letters received by mail regularly marked paid by the postmaster, or having on it a prepaid stamp, are to be delivered as paid, though they be entered in the bill as unpaid.  In such case the postmaster will make proper correction on the post bill; inform the postmaster who mailed the letter of the mistake, and request him to make the necessary correction in his Account of mails sent.  If the error be repeated, postmasters will notify the facts to the Department.
    106.  When a postmaster opens the mail bag, he should be careful to leave no packets of letters or newspapers addressed to his office in it; and if his office be at a connecting point of the mails, from which other mails branch, he will carefully examine the packets in the bag, take out all such as are addressed to offices supplied by the branching mails, and give them their proper direction by the earliest conveyance.  When this is neglected, it is expected that the first postmaster who discovers it will return the missent packets, and promptly report the facts to the Department.

On top of all this procedure someone thought to add a time limit for going through the mail bag!

Time allowed for opening the mail.

    107.  Seven minutes are allowed for opening and closing the mails at all offices where no particular time is specified; but on railroad and steamboat routes, there is to be no more delay than is necessary to remove and receive the bags.

To be continued.

Posted June 25, 2000

Editor's Note:  Modern philatelists are indebted to Theron Wierenga who republished this volume in 1980.  Italics follow the original.

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