The lesser-spotted postbox

In the street where I live we’re rather proud of our postbox, which bears the crest of King Edward VIII. Given Edward’s brief reign, how rare is our pillar box?

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Letterboxes come in three basic types – the wall box, the lamp box (attached to lamp posts, telegraph poles, etc) and the iconic pillar box. All should have a royal cipher – though Scottish boxes are different to those in the rest of the UK because of the monarch’s numbering: Queen Elizabeth II of England is Queen Elizabeth I of Scotland, so Scottish boxes currently feature the crown of Scotland.

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Edward VIII boxes are, of course, rare because of the brevity of his reign (January to December 1936); the first pillar box bearing his monogram – at Balmoral – wasn’t even installed until two months before his abdication. The overwhelming majority of the survivors are pillar boxes, which, of course, are very sturdy cast-iron structures, which, with regular painting and TLC, can last a long time. The Letter Box Study Group (www.lbsg.org), who are probably the UK’s leading authority on the matter, reckon that about 158 Edward VIII pillar boxes are still around.

In 2002, the Royal Mail and English Heritage agreed a policy on the protection and conservation of these much-loved items of British street furniture. As one of 158(-ish!) out of around 116,000 postboxes, yours is indeed unusual, but it stands an excellent chance of remaining there for decades to come.

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Answered by: Eugene Byrne, author and journalist.