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Posts Tagged ‘letter boxes

“Liest thou in smoky cribs, Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee”*…

 

pallets_0

 

What’s the most important object in the global economy? The classic answer… is the shipping container, which carries just about every type of object you can think of through the arteries and veins of global trade.

But let’s drill down a little further. How do those boxes of grapefruits and scissors and puffer jackets get into the containers in the first place, and then get offloaded at their destinations? The answer, most commonly, is an even more humble and ubiquitous technology: the pallet.

“The magic of these pallets is the magic of abstraction,” Jacob Hodes writes at Cabinet. “Take any object you like, pile it onto a pallet, and it becomes, simply, a ‘unit load’—standardized, cubical, and ideally suited to being scooped up by the tines of a forklift. This allows your Cheerios and your oysters to be whisked through the supply chain with great efficiency.”

But this simple tool, precisely because of its essential role in the global supply chain, comes with unexpectedly complex logistics…

From Quartz Obsessions, the story of the world’s lo-fi load bearers: “Pallets.”

* Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part II (Act 3, Sc 1)

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As we pile it on, we might recall that it was on this date in 1858 that Philadelphia iron products manufacturer Albert Potts patented his design for a lamppost-mounted collection mailbox (U.S. patent #19,578).  His box was designed to be affixed to a lamppost so that people could drop their letters into the box instead of making a special trip to the post office to mail their letters.  While Potts was a pioneer in America (anticipating the demand for letter boxes that expanded when City Free Delivery– the delivery of letters to addressees’ doors– was introduced), his were predated by the “pillar box” (introduced in the UK in 1852 by novelist Anthony Trollope, in has day-job capacity as Postal Surveyor) and by a short-lived postal system using collection boxes on street corners around Paris that was set up by  Renouard De Valayer in 1653.

potts letter box source

 

Written by LW

March 9, 2019 at 1:01 am

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