By Geo Ong
In a recent article, I described the post office as ‘an incredibly tense atmosphere.’ Perhaps that’s just an American big city post office. Or perhaps, if I were English and dealing with the Royal Mail in the early 1900s, I would’ve had more fun with the posting of my letters.
W. R. Bray happened to be what I just described, and he most certainly did have fun with it. After picking up the latest edition of the Post Office Guide in 1898, a handbook on how to correctly post and address one’s items, Bray thought he’d have a bit of fun testing the boundaries of these rules. (He certainly had a bit of time.)
In addition to sending strangely addressed letters and postcards, Bray also sent strange objects through the post, including a turnip with the addressed carved into it. In 1900 Bray found out that he could post himself through the Royal Mail. The Englishman didn’t put himself into a box, which was what I initially thought, but simply went to the post office and asked to be delivered. By the rules found in the Post Office Guide, this was perfectly acceptable, and Bray was escorted to the desired address by a postman.
In an interview, Bray said, ‘A [postman] is sent with the human letter and frankly it’s a very useful service. Once on a very foggy night I could not find a friend’s house so instead of wandering about for hours I posted myself and was delivered in a few minutes.’
Images from the W. Reginald Bray website
Information and general curiosity from John Tingey’s book The Englishman Who Posted Himself and Other Curious Objects