Local post

A local post is a mail service that operates only within a limited geographical area, typically a city or a single transportation route. Historically, some local posts have been operated by governments, while others, known as private local posts have been for-profit companies. Today, many stamp collectors operate hobbyists' local posts, issuing their own postal "stamps" for other collectors but rarely carrying any mail.

Official local posts

Government local posts go back to at least 1680, when the Penny Post was established in London to handle intra-city mail delivery at a uniform rate of one penny.

From 1840 onwards, when postage stamps were first introduced, special stamps were often issued; for instance the cantons of Switzerland issued stamps for use within a canton, and inscribed them "Poste-Local" or "Orts-Post". The Russian province of Wenden issued stamps for a local post from 1862 to 1901, while Nicaragua issued stamps for Zelaya only, due to its use of a different currency.

Rural Russia had a great many zemstvo posts handling local mail independently of the central government; some of these lasted until the 1917 revolution.

Private local posts

Many countries have had private local posts at one time or another. Usually these operated with the acquiescence of the government, and at other time in competition. Types of local posts included intra-city systems, transcontinental delivery (such as the Pony Express), and riverboat routes.

Many of these existed for only short periods, and little is known of their operations. Some of their stamps are among the great rarities of philately.

An example of a private modern day local post currently in operation is Hawai'i Post.

The world renowned philatelist, the late Herman Herst Jr., is considered the father of the modern United States local post having started his Shrub Oak Local Post in the early 1950s. He called his issues "stamps" and most local posters today call their issues "stamps" also. It was the philatelic press that got into the practice of calling them local post "labels" so to not confuse the beginning collectors.

Private local posts typically issue their own stamps, which can become collectors' items. These stamps are typically canceled with special cancellations, and their first day of issue can be thus commemorated.

In 1844, Lysander Spooner founded the American Letter Mail Company, competing with the legal monopoly of the United States Post Office (USPO) (now the United States Postal Service {USPS}) in violation of the Private Express Statutes. It succeeded in delivering mail for lower prices, but the U.S. Government challenged Spooner with legal measures, eventually forcing him to cease operations in 1851.

In 1968, Thomas M. Murry (1927 - 2003) founded the Independent Postal System of America (IPSA) as a nation-wide commercial carrier of Third and Fourth Class Mail , in direct competition with the United States Post Office (USPO), now the United States Postal Service (USPS). But in 1971, when the company entered the First Class delivery business, they endured a number of lawsuits brought against them, which finally led to the company's collapse in the mid 1970's. The company issued a number of stamps during the years of its operation, including commemoratives for Lyndon B. Johnson, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Charles Lindbergh before the USPS did.

Rattlesnake Island is an 85-acre island located on Lake Erie near Put-In-Bay, 11 miles northeast of Port Clinton, Ohio, and has the only USPS-sanctioned local post operating in the United States. Service is provided by way of a Ford Trimotor which shuttles mail between the island and the mainland. From 1966 to 1989, USPS mail was routed by way of Port Clinton, Ohio. Today, outgoing mail from the island enters the USPS mail stream by way of Sandusky, Ohio. Local Post service began in 1966 and continued through 1989, when the island was sold and the new owners discontinued the service. It was re-started in 2005 and continues to the current day.

For a list of worldwide local posts, go here

Hobbyists' local posts

Today's Local Posters (also known as phiLOPOlists) issue their local post "stamps", and issue a variety of commemorative "stamps" covering a wide range of events or personal interests, of subjects that are not normally issued by their own countrys postal service.

In some cases these modern day local posts have issued stamp subjects before their own country issued the same subject. The Free State Local Post issued an Audie Murphy stamp long before the U.S. Postal Service issued one of the same subject. The Ascension AAF Local Post, located on the island of Ascension in the South Atlantic Ocean, in 1972 commemorated the anniversary of the first aircraft to land at Ascension Island. This same subject was commemorated by the Ascension Island postal system in 1982.

This sort of local post is effectively a "home-brewed" postal system , and the typical hobbyist carries little, if any, mail (though some do carry mail over a short distance for themselves or a few people).

The Local Post Collectors' Society coordinates communication among local posters,

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