Fantastic finds: Santa Claus is coming (by mail)

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

In the immediate post-World War II years, the Postmaster-General’s Department was determined to deliver Christmas cheer on time.

As Australia slowly recovered from the upheaval and shortages of World War II, post offices prepared for the seasonal rush on postal and telegram services. With many Australians eager to send Christmas greetings and parcels to loved ones interstate or overseas, post offices struggled to deal with the increased volume of telegrams and mail.

Posters and signs urging Australians to be prepared – and post early – were printed annually and displayed on postal vans, shipping offices and post offices, as well as in newspapers.

In 1948, however, due to heavy demand on the printing trade, the Postmaster-General’s Department informed post offices that the usual supply of posters was unavailable, and encouraged them to use stocks from previous years.

Post offices duly recycled their signage and stepped up their efforts to get Australians to post early and lodge their Christmas telegrams before 23 December.

A file held in our Western Australian office includes photographs of these signs, as well as an original poster. Their rather ominous design was apparently successful in conveying the postal department’s message to the public, as the Western Australian Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs reported a decreased load in the few days before Christmas.

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