|Project by trasner||posted 02-24-2015 03:26 AM||5730 views||8 times favorited||7 comments|
I like to collect these vintage p.o. box doors to make little banks and give them as gifts. The most enjoyable part of the process for me is the restoration of the door. Most of the ones I will buy are from the 1930’s or earlier. A few are from the 1880’s. Although not terribly sophisticated, they were built rock solid. Other than the thick 1/4 inch glass window, they are either solid bronze or brass all the way down to the knobs, dials, gears, screws, washers, name plate, springs, etc. Because of this, they can be restored to almost near new condition. They usually are in good working condition when I get them but are in somewhat horrendous shape from an aesthetic point (unless you like black corrosion and green patina which is better suited for an ancient coin). I like taking them completely apart and then polish everything all the way down to the little brass screws. I have the process down to about 45 min per door including a lacquer finish. They are definitely a product of a bygone era when craftsmanship meant more than it does today. It must have been a site to see to walk into the post office in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and see walls and walls of shiny bronze. Going to the post office back then was probably an event as most people did not have home delivery of mail.
Picture 1 & 2 are of one of the banks I made using Brazilian Cherry with Ebony splines (I used a home-made spline jig which I am also going to post on LJ). Picture 3 is an assortment of the doors I have. Going from top left clockwise: The 1st is a dual dial from the Keyless Lock Co (circa 1886). The 2nd is a large radial dial from the Eagle Lock Co (circa 1898). The 3rd is a star dial from The American Post Office Equip Co (Circa 1901), and the 4th is the flying eagle which is also from the Keyless Lock Co (Circa 1906). Picture 4 is a Corbin double dial bronze unit (1920’s) before and after polishing. Picture 5 are a pair of U.S. single dial brass doors I purchased from Ebay. I have restored the one on the left to compare before and after. There is no paint on any of these whatsoever, it is the natural bronze and brass after buffing and polishing.
As you can see, they are very ornate, and as other woodworkers have found, they make really neat banks, keepsake boxes, etc. Next time you are at your local post office look the P.O. boxes of today and notice the difference. Vintage P.O. boxes can be found on Ebay, Etsy, and antique stores.
Thanks for looking.