Through the Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs I had traced the mid-century modern mailbox design back to the mid 1970s. The Better Homes and Garden magazine took me back to 1968.
Manufacturers can seek approval from the United States Postal Service (USPS) for their rural and contemporary-style suburban mailboxes. Title 39 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) covers Postal Service. The January 1, 1970 Title contains a list of twenty-two approved manufacturers and suppliers. [click list]
I built a table that listed manufactures with approved mailboxes as of 1970. I used the 1974 revisions to Title 39 to identify any new entrants and those that were gone. After twenty-five years, based on a 2001 Postal Bulletin, only three of the twenty-nine manufactures that were listed from 1970-1974 were still producing mailboxes! [click table]
Since 2001, Gibraltar Industries, Inc. (Solar Group) acquired two of the three mid-1970s manufacturers. There is one company from the 70s that still produces mailboxes: Fulton Corp. (the topic of my next blog post).
To my surprise, in a write-up about Mailbox Improvement Week, the 2001 Postal Bulletin contained an image of the modern mailbox design! The text referencing the mailbox states: “There are two approved styles of curbside mailboxes: (1) traditional design, in three standard sizes (see Exhibit A); and (2) contemporary design, also in three sizes (see Exhibit B).” Retro cool!
The USPS referred to the mid-century modern mailbox as “contemporary design” as far back as 1970!