Post Office Heritage Signs – A Restoration Project

heritage plaqueThe British Postal Museum and Archive take an active role in preserving our British Heritage. One such project was the restoration of a now rare blue airmail pillar box from the 1930s, including the recreation of heritage signs.

Special post boxes for the collection of airmail were on British streets for less than nine years yet they continue to fascinate. Originally intended to be placed in prominent positions in London, by 1936, there were 139 in London and 174 in the provinces. Much of the interest in these boxes comes from the colour that they were painted: blue.

Heritage Signs

Stocksigns, based at Redhill were engaged for the work of replicating the airmail signs. Founded in 1955, the company had purchased Burnham Signs (founded 1877) who, in turn, incorporated Garnier & Co. (established 1891). Garnier had been the original supplier of the small airmail signs to the Post Office in the 1930s. This commissioning was an attempt to preserve some continuity of provenance in the restoration.

Stocksigns was tasked with re-creating the oval and enamel airmail sign. As the originals were in quite poor condition, it was decided to conserve these in as original condition as possible and commission replicas to be fixed to the restored box. Restoration of the signs would have removed much that is original, and it is highly unlikely that more than a handful of original examples survive today. Such a curatorial decision permits the original signs to be available for research in their original and preserved condition.

heritage signs

To read more about this restoration project visit the British Postal Museum & Archive for the full story.