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The Marlondo Leather Postal Messenger Bag: History and Inspiration

Posted by Tim McWhorter on

Photos from the Smithsonian National Postal Museum

The U.S. Postal Bag is a beloved classic, built for mail carriers who carry hundreds of pounds of paper from door to door every day. There is a long tradition in the U.S. Postal service of using durable leather bags, pouches, satchels, and saddlebags, and their designs continue to be used as inspiration to this day.

For almost a century after the U.S. Postal Service was founded in Philadelphia in the 1770s, Americans sent and received their mail at the local post office. It wasn't until 1863 that a Cleveland, Ohio postal worker named Joseph Briggs decided to experiment with free mail delivery directly to the recipient's door. The idea quickly spread as revenues soared and cities found that it was an effective way to gainfully employ Civil War veterans. By the turn of the century there were thousands of letter carriers in over 400 cities. 

Free city mail delivery helped ensure that streets were paved, sidewalks and street lamps built, and roads named and numbered. Soon the Postal Service standardized letter carriers' clothing to a blue-grey uniform. Some postal workers were carrying up to 70 pounds of mail at a time, so leather mail satchels became common.

Leather is the perfect material for carrying mail outdoors. It's strong, durable, capable of carrying heavy weights, and resistant to the elements. Many types of leather mail bags have been used by carriers throughout the years, but the crossbody satchel has persisted for its simplicity and functionality. 

The postal bag's single strap closure made its contents easily accessible while maintaining its locking ability, an important feature for securing and safekeeping first class mail. The inside of the bag is wide open, so mail can be organized and instantly retrieved and the bag's construction keeps the bag flat against the wearer's body. The flap keeps the contents hidden from the elements.

While the leather postal bag was retired in the 1970s in favor of lightweight canvas, its spirit lives on thanks to leatherworkers who appreciate the bag's history and functionality. The Marlondo Leather Postal Messenger Bag is designed to emulate the spirit of the U.S. Postal Service's classic leather satchels. Handmade with top of the line full grain cowhide and heavy duty solid brass hardware, the Postal Messenger Bag will haul your gear through the proverbial snow, rain, heat, and gloom of night, just like its predecessors have for over 150 years. 


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