Tin Can Mail

Niuafo’ou is an isolated volcanic island in the Pacific with no harbor. Since 1882, it has been getting its mail via “tin can,” i.e. sealed inside a biscuit tin, or other watertight package and either carried to shore by a swimmer or brought in by canoe. Postal fans all over the world have posted letters to Niuafo’ou to garner the coveted “Tin Can Mail” stamp on their envelopes. There’s a marvelous history here, and above, a real photo postcard from the 1930s.

And another wonderful piece.

Orrs Island, ME

Orrs Island is in Casco Bay off the coast of Maine. This post card was posted at nearby South Harpswell in July of 1909, and mailed to the Bronx, bearing his message: “Dear little Ethel, I am waiting for a letter from you. Aren’t you going to write? How are you? Be good. Goodbye. With lots of love, Louise.” The island inspired not one but two novels: The Pearl of Orr’s Island (1862) by Harriet Beecher Stowe and Brunhilda of Orr’s Island (1908) by William Jasper Nicolls. I love this one for the door on the corner, and the prim postmistress.