The United States Mail and Post Office Assistant was one of several privately created and published periodicals during the nineteenth century for the benefit of postmasters and businessmen who wanted to keep up with the laws, regulations, rules, and activities of the U.S. Post Office Department. Published monthly, in a newspaper format with four pages per issue, it discussed these subjects, as well as answered questions submitted by postmasters on post office questions. The founder and publisher of this periodical was James Holbrook, who had previously been employed by the US Post Office Department as a Special Agent. James Holbrook was also listed as the Editor beginning with the first issue, and continued in that role until the September 1864 issue, when J. Gaylor was noted as the new Editor.
In the 1970s, postal historian Michael Laurence undertook a search of major libraries for copies of this publication. He was partially successful in this search, and he was able to locate in either a print or microfilm format, all the issues for Volume I through Volume XII, which had been published between 1860 and 1872. Additional issues for Volume XIII to Volume XVI were located, but they were incomplete.
A reprint edition of these first twelve volumes was prepared by the Collector’s Club of Chicago in 1975, a massive publication in two parts, even though it was printed in reduced size from the original newspaper format. In the Introduction, Laurence noted that it was hoped that the missing issues would eventually be located, and the remaining volumes could be published. At the end of the second part, an Appendix was included which identified the location of the known issues from the volumes which had not been published, and which had been prepared on microfilm. Richard Frajola has a PDF of the original twelve volumes on his Philamercury website, which can be accessed here.
During the 1990s, Henry W. Beecher, the co-author of the U.S. Domestic and International Rate books prepared in conjunction with Anthony (Tony) S. Wawrukiewicz, obtained copies of the microfilmed issues of the United States Mail and Post Office Assistant, and printed off paper copies of each issue. Technology was crude at the time, and the resulting printed page size was only 8.5” by 11”, and unfortunately, the original microfilm copies were not fully legible, and the contents of some of the pages could not be easily read.
Tony ended up with these original printed pages, and recently scanned them with the thought of making them available to the philatelic community. When he mentioned these to me, I offered to edit them into the format we had used with our Official Postal Guide project that now resides on the Stamp Smarter website, and to arrange to have them hosted there. They are presented here. Because of the quality of the images, they are not searchable.
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