Coffee table book traces story of India''s postal system

New Delhi, Feb 14 (PTI) In the early 17th century,long before the times of email and mobile phones, pigeons,barefoot runners and bullock carts were used to carry messagesbetween one part of India to another.

The postman cycle of the early 1800s, with its largefront tyre, post boxes in all sizes and shapes collected fromall over the country as well as the antique stamp printingpresses can now be seen in photographs in a new book.

The coffee table book "Pigeons to Post" by SteveBorgia, released at the ongoing world philatelic exhibition''Indipex 2011'' in the national capital traces the story of theorigin and the evolution India''s postal history over a periodof nearly two thousand years.

Borgia travelled across India and the world to gatherevery bit of collectibles that would piece together thehistory of the country''s postal history. Photographs ofold postoffices, dilapidated post boxes dating back severalhundred years, stamp printing presses that are now antiquated,he has it all.

"Initially I wanted to display all the items Icollected in a museum but the postal department stressed onthe need for a book. The research and sourcing for thebook has been going on for the past 15 years," Borgia told PTIduring the inauguration of Indipex.

Since there was very less material available on themail-runners, Borgia had to take help from British archives,retired post masters and the books written by post mastergenerals before 1947.

"The mail-runner in earlier times not only carriedpeople''s messages but they also carried their emotions andhopes. The used to write and read out letters for people. Theyhad a simple lifestyles compared to their British bosses andwere the real backbone of the postal system," says Borgia.

Clippings from the repositories of the London Mail,illustrations from the Global Post and etchings from theFrench and English artists as well as data and picturessourced from the British and Delhi postal archives and museumof the colonial days helped piece the book together.

One of the highlights of the book according to theauthor is the section on line drawings on the mail runnersfighting natural calamities like wild animals and floodedrivers for delivering the mails in time. .

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