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.
Next question: are there any manufacturers that produced the mailbox still around? I was hoping to find a company that might be able/willing to start making the mid-century modern design(s) again.
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!