The Panama Canal Zone was created on November 18, 1903 from the territory of Panama, for the purpose of constructing the Panama Canal. It was an unincorporated territory of the United States. The Canal Zone was abolished in 1979, when it was incorporated back into Panama.
To support the thousands of workers who were part of the construction of the canal, a Post Office Department was established there on June 25, 1905. While it was modeled in many ways after the United States Post Office Department, it was entirely independent from the USPOD. The Canal Zone issued their own postage stamps and postal stationery, and issued publications for the guidance of their postal employees which were similar to those prepared by the USPOD.
The primary publication was the Canal Zone Official Postal Guide, which was issued in at least 6 different editions between 1915 and 1946. There were regularly issued updates to the guidelines and regulations in the postal guides, usually in the form of Post Office Dept Circulars, but no complete file of these has been located. These guides were relatively small in size (compared to the USPOD version), typically less than 100 pages, and generally included instructions that postal employees were to refer to the recent issues of the USPOD Postal Guides when specific instructions were not provided in the local guides.
Copies of all of the known Canal Zone Official Postal Guides are available here in the Postal Guides drawer. Of particular interest is the Edition for 1946, which was a special version that was based on the Edition of 1929, but also included copies of all of the revisions and updates to the guide identified by date. This was an improvement over earlier editions as it allowed the postal historian to identify the precise dates when changes were put into force.
This edition of the Postal Guide is provided in two formats. One format shows the individual pages presented in a two-page side-by-side format, with all revisions displayed to the left of the original page, and prior to the page when multiple revisions were applicable to sections on a page. This presents the guide in the way a user would have utilized the physical book. A second version was prepared that simply inserted each change or revision, in chronological order, behind the page where the change was to be made.
There are also two files that consist of a compilation of other miscellaneous Canal Zone post office department publications and other materials related to the Canal Zone Post Offices. These were compiled by Tom Brougham during his many years of collecting Canal Zone materials, and he offered to share these here.
Also in the second drawer are some other resources of possible interest to collectors interested in the Canal Zone. The primary philatelic organization which specializes in the Canal Zone stamps and postal history is the Canal Zone Study Group. Their website includes an archive of nearly 200 issues their journal The Canal Zone Philatelist, and many other articles and resources. It can be viewed here.
The third drawer includes some additional resources, and the fourth drawer includes several exhibits of Canal Zone material.
Panama Canal Zone
Registered Mail, the Early
Years 1905-1922 (Al Kugel)
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