Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Undeliverable Domestic First Class Mail During the Centennial Period

Undeliverable mail was mail that could not be delivered for such reasons as:
  • it did not have a sufficient or correct address;
  • the addressee had left the place to which the mail was addressed but had not supplied the local post office with a current forwarding office
  • the addressee had refused to accept the mail.

The reason for the non-delivery was to be stamped or written on the address side. This commonly used handstamp provided various reasons for non-delivery:

  • Unclaimed
  • No such address
  • Address incomplete
  • Moved, address unknown
  • No such Post Office
  • Refused
  • Deceased
  • Unknown
There were two categories of returned mail:

a) Return address on the outside of the mail
b) Return address on the inside of the mail only

a) Return address on the outside of the mail

Undeliverable domestic first class mail was returned to the sender without charge if the return address was on the outside of the mail.

No such Address

London local letter, November 7, 1968

"DIRECTORY" handstamp indicates that a reference such as a telephone directory was used to locate the addressee.


The local Montreal letter mailed June 14, 1967, was returned because the addressee had moved, presumably without leaving a forwarding address.

Not Called For

Two attempts were made by the Toronto Post Office to deliver this registered letter mailed from from Bracebridge, March 1967. The addressee received a Notice of Delivery card advising her that the registered mail would be returned if not delivered within a specified time. Since she did not pick up the item the "NOT CALLED FOR" handstamp was applied and the letter was returned to the sender.

Not Called For (Post Office Box)

Ottawa to a Post Office Box, Hull, November 28, 1969
The letter remained unclaimed until April, 1970 and was eventually returned.

Post Office Box Closed

Newburgh to Oromocto, June 13 1973


Bancroft to Mississauga, December 9 1972
The letter was refused by the addressee

b) Return address on the inside only

If the return address was on the inside of the mail only, the mail was sent to an Undeliverable Mail Office to be opened and returned to the sender for a fee.

Undeliverable Mail Fee:

i) to October 31, 1968.............5 cents
ii) from November 1, 1968....10 cents

i) to October 31, 1968

Ambulance Envelope

Items returned to sender from the Undeliverable Mail Office (UMO) was sent in an ambulance envelope. This example sent from the Toronto UMO to Toronto on May 14, 1968 was from Printing Order 33-65-024 (6-67).

The 5 cent fee was paid and a 5 cent postage due stamp was affixed to the envelope.

Toronto UMO meter, May 14, 1968
Denomination : *00

Winnipeg local letter

The Winnipeg local letter mailed February 5, 1968 was redirected to Box 87, Winnipeg. The addressee was not known and the letter was undeliverable. Since there was no return address on the outside of the envelope, the letter was forwarded to the Vancouver UMO which dealt with western undeliverable mail.

Vancouver UMO meter applied to the back of the envelope

The letter would have been mailed to the sender in an ambulance envelope and a 5 cent fee collected.

ii) from November 1, 1968

This insert was included with the undeliverable mail returned by the UMO to the sender:

10 cent charge paid with Centennial definitive stamp

Vancouver UMO to Surrey, B.C., April 25, 1969
A card was sent on April 26 advising that a postage due item was to be picked up. The 10 cents undeliverable mail return charge was paid on April 28 , 1969

Rectangular Due Box

Vancouver UMO, May 24, 1973

Manuscript "10"

Two items picked up

UMO Montreal to sender in Montreal, August 9, 1973

T10 handstamp suggests that there were two undeliverable mail items and that the 20 cents in postage dues represented payment for both items.