TERMS AND ABBREVIATIONS USED IN RAILWAY PHILATELY
Compiled by Tony Goodbody
THIS PAGE HAS TO BE CHECKED AS PART OF THE REBUILD
The idea for this project came from a request to explain some of the cryptic initials and abbreviations which occur on British Postmarks with some kind of railway association. It occurred to me that the inscriptions to be found on some overseas marks are, of necessity, even more cryptic and the notes, therefore, could be extended to cover some foreign countries. My aim, therefore, is to help the reader, who comes across a stamp or a cover from a country in which he is not an expert, to determine whether or not it has any railway significance. Of course, there will be omissions and mistakes but considerable care has been taken to check the information given and to make it as comprehensive as possible.
For the most part, the notes are concerned with postmarks used on the Travelling Post Offices (TPOs) and at Railway Station Offices (RSOs) but other information is given where it is thought to be helpful.
No attempt is made to indicate the route of a TPO. That would be to trespass on the ground covered by the many specialist works already available.
Originally it was proposed to include a long list of references. With the publication of the Bibliography of Railway Philately this seemed to be repetitious and superfluous. Nevertheless, the indebtedness to many of the works cited in the Bibliography is acknowledged.
Comments and additions will be welcome. Please send them to Webmaster .
The early railway postmarks of Argentina abound in initials. Only some of the most obvious can be quoted here. However they almost invariably incorporate one or other of the abbreviations listed below.
BRIGADA: Travelling Post Office (route in excess of 250 km.)
BUENOS AIRES followed by a number (2, 4, 5, 8 or 37), and a repeated number, has the same definition as ‘Distrito’ below for local TPOs working out of B.A.
CENTRAL A (Various destinations): TPO from Central Station Buenos Aires.
DISTRITO: Local TPO working in one Province. Thus Distrito 21 with the number 27 repeated indicates TPO No.27 operating in Province 21.
ESTACIÓN: Railway Station
E. AMB. (ESTAFETA AMBULANTE): Travelling Post Office (route in excess of 250 km.).
E. AMB. MENSAG (ESTAFETA AMBULANTE EN MENSAGERIAS NACIONALES). (‘Mensagerias’ = parcel post.)
ESTAFETA FERROVIARIA: Travelling Post Office (route shorter than 250 km.).
F.C.N. (FERROCARRIL DEL NORTE): Northern Railway
F.C.O. (FERROCARRIL DEL OESTE): Western Railway
F.C.S. (FERROCARRIL DEL SUD): Southern Railway
OFICINA POSTAL AMBULANTE: Travelling Post Office (route in excess of 250 km.)
RELEVANTE: (This is difficult. The word could mean replacement, relief or substitute)
SUCURSAL: Branch (Office) (Usually with indication of Railway or route. Sucursal Nos. 2,4, 5, 8, & 37 were TPOs.)
TREN ATRASADO: Train Late
ULTIMA HORA: Last Hour
VAGON POSTAL: Travelling Post Office (route in excess of 250 km.)
VENTANILLA V.POSTAL: Window of the TPO, probably similar to the definition of ‘window’ under India.
DOWN TRAIN (Victoria): Train travelling away from Melbourne.
E.M.T.P.O.: English Mail T.P.O.
G.N.R.P./N.S.W.: Great Northern Railway Post Office/ New South Wales.
LATE FEE: As for Great Britain
M.G.: Mail Guard
PAY TRAIN: A train with a travelling bank and other services to serve remote districts
(otherwise known as the ‘Tea & Sugar Train.’).
RAIL or RAILWAY (or abbreviation): Sometimes a railway station post office, e.g. ADELAIDE RAILWAY/S.A., otherwise a travelling post office, e.g. TEROWIE RAILWAY/ STH AUST.
T.P.O.: Travelling Post Office.
UP TRAIN (Victoria): Train travelling towards Melbourne.
Bp (Bahnpost): Railway Post (i.e. travelling post office.)
F.P.A. (Fahrendespostamt): Travelling Post Office.
Gesamtpostvermittlung: Mail Guard (Literally complete postal agency)
Gpk (Gesamtpostkurs): Mail Guard (Literally complete postal journey.)
Here is a more complete description of GESAMTPOSTKURS supplied by a German philatelist:
Second Class Austrian TPO
No letter sorting
Closed pouch service
Transportation of bags and parcels
No registered items accepted (with the implication that ordinary mail is accepted)
Staffed by one clerk only
GPKs travel on minor routes or as a transit service on international routes such as West Germany to Italy or Yugoslavia, etc.
K.K.B.P. (KAISERLICH KÖNIGLICH BAHNPOST): Imperial Royal Travelling Post Office.
K.K. (KAISERLICH KÖNIGLICH) FAHRENDES POSTAMT: Imperial Royal Travelling Post Office
K.K. (KAISERLICH KÖNIGLICH) POST AMBULANCE: Imperial Royal Travelling Post Office
POSTAMTDIENER IM ZUGE: Mail Guard (Literally Post Office Servant in the train)
POSTBEGLEITER IM ZUGE: Mail Guard.
POSTCONDUCTEUR IM ZUGE: Mail Guard [Literally Conductor Post (or Courrier Post) in the train.]
SCHAFFNERBAHNPOST: Mail Guard
UFFICIO AMBULANTE: Travelling Post Office
Begeleider: Mail Guard
Bureau Ambulant: Travelling Post Office
Convoyeur: Mail Guard
Gare: Railway Station
Schbp. (During World War I): Schaffnerbahnpost (2nd class TPO)
Station: Railway Station
Treinpostkantoor: Travelling Post Office
Brazil is a vast country, which had a comprehensive network of TPOs. Nevertheless few of the postmarks are seen today and little is known about them.
C.A. (CORREIO AMBULANTE): Travelling Post Office
CONDUCTOR (or CONDUTOR): Mail Guard
E.F. (ESTRADA DE FERRO): Railway
ESTAFETA: Mail Guard
IDA: Down (odd numbered trains)
NOCTURNO (or NOTURNO): Night Train
RAPIDO: Express Train
SECCÃO: Section (of Post Office: 4th and 7th sections control TPOs)
T. (TREM): Train
VOLTA: Up (even numbered trains)
AMB (Ambulant): Travelling Post Office (in French)
Gare: Railway Station
ГAPA (GARA): Railway Station
И ОБР. (I OBR. = I OBRANTO): & Vice Versa
TPAMBAЯ П.O. COΦИЯ: Tramway Post Office, Sofia
П.П. (ПОДВИЖНО ПОЩЕНСКО)
(PODVIZHNO POSHTENSKO): Travelling Post
ПОДВИЖНО ПИСАЛИЩЕ (PODVIZHNO PISALISHTE): Travelling Office
П.П.П. (ПΟДВИЖНО ПОЩЕНСКО ПИСАЛИЩЕ)
(PODVIZHNO POSHTENSKO PISALISHTE): Travelling Post Office
П.П. СТАНШЯ (ПОДВИЖНО ПОЩЕНСКО СТАНШЯ )
(PODVIZHNO POSHTENSKO STANTSIA): Travelling Post Station
CTAHЦІА (STANTSIA): Railway Station.
C.N.R: Canadian National Railway (or Canadian Northern Railway.)
C.P.R.: Canadian Pacific Railway
Depot: Railway Station
G.T.R.: Grand Trunk Railway
M.C.: Mail Car
N. (or S, E, W) Direction of travel.
R.P.O. (or Ry.P.O.): Railway Post Office
Station (or abbreviation): Sometimes a railway station
Terminal: Railway Station
T.P.O.: Travelling Post Office (by water unless specifically indicated by rail)
R.M.S.: Railway Mail Service
R.P.O.: Railway Post Office (i.e. Travelling Post Office)
K.L. Kandy Line
S.L. Seaside Line
AMB. (AMBULANCIA): Travelling Post Office
DIRECTO: Non stop train?
RAPIDO: Fast train
T.E. (TREN EXPRESO): Moderately fast train
T.N. (TREN NOCTURNO): Very slow night train
T.O. (TREN ORDINARIO): Slow train
BUREAU AMBULANT: Travelling Post Office
HUO CH’E (Fire Carriage): Train (i.e. TPO)
I.P.O.-R.M.S.: Imperial Post Office-Railway Mail Sorter (or Service?)
MAIL CAR: Travelling Post Office
S.N.R.: Shanghai-Nanking Railway
T.P.R.: Tientsin-Pukou Railroad
TRAIN OFFICE: Travelling Post Office
R.P.O.: Railway Post Office (situated at a railway station; not a travelling office).
(The following are translations of some of the chapter headings In ‘Monografie Československých Známek,’ the 16 (or more) volume work on Czech postal history.
Razítka vlakových pošt: Postmarks of travelling post offices. (Vol.14, p.391)
Razítka vlakových poštovních úřadů: Postmarks of first class travelling post offices. (Vol.14, p.393)
Razítka vlakových poštnovních průvodčích - konduktérů - vlakových poštnovich doprovodů a vlakových pošt nižšího řádu: Postmarks of mailguards, accompanied mail and travelling post offices of lower order. (Vol.14, p.427)
Katalog popřevratových razítek rakouského původu pro úřednické vlakové pošty v českých zemích: Catalogue of first class TPO postmarks of Austrian origin used in Czechoslovakia. (Vol.16, p.317)
Katalog popřevratových razítek rakouského původu pro vlakové pošty nižšího řádu v český’ch zemích: Catalogue of second class TPO postmarks of Austrian origin used In Czechoslovakia. (Vol.16, p.331)
Katalog popřevratových razítek rakouského původu pro vlakové Poštovní průvodčí v českých zemích: Catalogue of postmarks of Austrian origin used by railway mail guards in Czechoslovakia. (Vol.16, p.357)
Katalog popřevratových razítek uherského původu pro vlakové Pošty na Slovensku a bývalé Podkarpatské Rusi: Catalogue of TPO postmarks of Hungarian origin used in Slovakia and former Ruthenia (‘Sub ¬Carpathian Russia’). (Vol.16, p.367)
Nádraží: Railway Station
OZ PŘEPRAVE/ AMBUL. POŠTY (Odštĕpného závodu přeprava ambulantních pošty): Mailguard (Literally: branch post office transport of ambulatory mail)
úpz (úhrnné přepravy poštovních závěrů): Mailguard (Literally: summary transport of postbags)
úpž (úhrnné přeprava železniční): Mailguard (Literally: summary transport by railway)
Vlaková Pošta: Travelling Post Office.
B. (Banegaard(en) or Baneg.: Railway Station
Bagagebevis: Luggage Certificate
Båndmærker: Stamps for wrappers
Banepakke: Railway Parcel
Ebn. Post Bur. (Eisenbahn Post Bureau): Travelling Post Office (German language used in Schleswig-Holstein.
Efterkravprovisionsmærker: Provisional stamps for collection of cash on delivery.
Fra Sverige: From Sweden (used by Danish TPOs, which cross Swedish border)
Fra Tyskland: From Germany (used by Danish TPOs, which cross German border)
Frankeringsmærker: Fiscal Stamp (Nevertheless the stamps appear to have been used to pay carriage)
Gebyrmærke: Late Fee Stamp
Godsfrimærke: Freight Stamp
Indleveringsgebyr: Late Fee
J.B. (Jernbane): Railway
J.B.P.E. (Jernbane Post Ekspedition): Railway Postal Dispatch (i.e. static railway post office).
JB.PB (Jernbane Postbureau): Travelling Post Office
JB.PK. (or JB.PKT.) (Jernbane Postkontor): Travelling Post Office
JB.P.SP.B. (Jernbane Post Speditions Bureau): Travelling Post Office
Jernbane Postkontor (modern): Railway Post Office (Reserve TPO postmark)
Jernbanestation: Railway Station
N.SJ.JB.P.B. (Nord Sjællandske Jernbane Post Bureau): North Zeeland Railway TPO
P.B. (Post Bureau): Travelling Post Office
Post Sped(itions) Bureau (or P.SP.BUR.): Travelling Post Office
Posttog: Mail Train
Rutebilbrev: Bus letter
SJ.JB.P.SP.B. (Sjællandske Jernbane Post Speditions Bureau): Zeeland Railway TPO
AMB. (AMBULANT): Travelling Post Office
T.P.O.: Travelling Post Office
V.V. Vice Versa
There are two references (notes only) in the TPO Cumulative Index, one of which is incorrect. For ‘Vol.29, p.23’ read ‘Vol.39, p.23.’
P.V. (Postvagun): Travelling Post Office
P.W. (Postwagun): Travelling Post office
VAKSAL: Railway Station
It should be remembered that Finnish marks were originally bi-lingual in Swedish and Russian. Later some marks were tri-lingual in Finnish, Swedish and Russian, and later still (after 1917) the norm was for bi-lingual marks in Finnish and Swedish. Nowadays they are in Finnish only.
a (aamu): Morning
As (Asema): Railway Station
e (efterdäg): Afternoon or Evening (Swedish)
f (foredäg): Morning (Swedish)
FINSKA JERNVAGENS POSTKUPÉEXPEDITION: Finnish Railway Travelling Post Office (Railway postal forwarding mail van)
FINSKA POST KUPEN: Finnish Travelling Post Office (Finnish mail van).
i (ilta): Evening
ILMOITUSKORTTI: Notification Card (i.e. of goods for collection having arrived at a station.)
J (Juna): Train
K.P.X.P. (KUPÉPOSTEXPEDITION): Travelling Post Office
NOTIFIKATIONSKORT: Notification Card
pj (paivajuna): Day Train
P.V. (POSTVAGN or P.vagn): Travelling Post Office (Swedish)
P.V. (Postivaunu or P.vaunu): Travelling Post Office (Finnish)
Postilj.k (Postiljonskupéer): Mail Guard (Swedish)
Postilj.v (Postiljoonivaunu): Mail Guard (Finnish)
Rautatienasema: Railway Station
Vaunu: Railway van
YÖJ (Yöjuna): Night Train
B.OTД. (BAГОНЪ OTДЕЛНІЕ): Mail Guard (but see remarks under ‘Russia.’)
Ф.П. ВАГОНЪ (ФИНСKA ПОЧТОВЫЙ ВАГОНЪ): Finnish Postal Wagon
o :Day Train
• : Night Train
N.B. The postmarks of the station offices attached to the Paris main line termini can be found with a great variety of qualifying words (Banlieue, Province, Etranger, etc.) They are all fairly scarce on mail. It would be tedious to list them all and the reader is referred to a dictionary.
*Ambulants primos (shown as 1er in circular TPO postmarks): Day-time TPO which aimed to deliver mails in time for
second delivery made in the afternoon.
*Ambulants secundos (shown as 20 in circular TPO postmarks): Night-time TPO which aimed to deliver mails in time for
first delivery made in the morning, the most numerous type of French TPO.
*Ambulants tertios (shown as 30 in circular TPO postmarks): Additional services provided to supplement secondos.
Ambulant Solo: Individual TPO service conveyed on passenger or freight train.
Brigade: Crews working the TPO service on successive nights, similar to the British ‘side,’ designated by letters A,B,C,D, shown in Night services (ambulants secundos) and E,F,G,H shown in day services (ambulants primos).
B.M. (Bôite Mobile): Moveable Box (not necessarily on a train).
BUREAU AMBULANT: Travelling Post Office.
BUREAU DE PASSE: A forwarding or transfer office (see the U.S. transfer office) which would forward mail from static offices or from TPOs. Generally situated at railway stations.
CACHET DE GARE: Postmark used at railway station office (of which there are a great variety of types: Bureaux Annexes des Gares, Bureaux de Quartiers, etc., etc.)
CACHET DE SERVICE: Undated straight-line mark of station or TPO, for use on official documents. Said to be scarce when used to cancel stamps on mail (except for modern covers.)
COURRIERS-CONVOYEURS-LIGNES: Mail Guards whose postmarks indicated the route but not the station of posting. The postmarks had a ‘scalloped’ profile until replaced by circular marks with the initials SC or SCE (q.v.).
COURRIERS-CONVOYEURS-STATIONS: Mail Guards whose postmarks indicated the route in abbreviated form, the station of posting and the number of the département. The postmarks had a scalloped profile.
ENTREPÔT: Literally a warehouse but included in lists of railway station marks.
LETTRE DE BRIGADE: A letter found within the datestamp (or on official forms, struck separately) indicating the crew.
R.A.P. (Rame Automotrice Postale):
S.C. (Service de Convoiement): Initials found in circular postmarks to indicate a mailguard service.
S.C.E. (Service de Convoiement et d’ensachage): Initials found in circular postmarks to indicate a mailguard and bagging service.
SERVICE INTERMEDIARE: Mail Guard
STATION (as in ‘Courriers-Convoyeurs-Stations’): Halt (in the sense “The train arrived at the Station and came to a halt.”)
TRANSBORDEMENT: Transfer between trains.
TPA (Train-poste autonome): From 1976 onwards several individual TPO services were combined into one train for most of the journey, although worked by separate crews each using their own distinctive postmark. Each train conveyed only TPO vehicles as in the case of the British ‘specials.’
I think this can only have been true latterly. Further information is sought.
BAHNHOF: Railway Station
BAHNHOFSBRIEF: Station Letter (To be collected at a railway station. Similar to a U.K. railway letter but handled by the Post Office.)
BAHNHOFSZEITUNG: As for Bahnhofsbrief but a newspaper or bundle of newspapers.
B.P.A. (plus number): See BAHNPOSTAMT, but note that B.P.A. without a number could be Brief Postamt (Letter Post Office)
BAHNPOST: Railway Post, i.e. TPO or Mail Guard
BAHNPOST (plus number): An abbreviation for Bahnpostamt (q.v.)
BAHNPOSTAMT (plus number): Railway Post Office (A static office of the TPO service)
C (Coupé): It has been stated that this stands for compartment (of a railway carriage) (Found on Bavarian bahnpost marks followed by a number. Hence R-B-C2 = Rosenheim-Berchtesgaden, Coupé No.2). It is perhaps more likely that it stands for ‘Curs’ (see below).
CURS: Route, trip or journey.
EISENBAHNFAHRT: Railway Journey. It is conjectured that this was applied to mail posted into a special box, which was cleared onto a TPO.
EISENBAHN POST AMT: Railway Post Office (static office: changed to Bahnpostamt in 1875)
EISENBAHN POST BUREAU: Travelling Post Office (changed to Bahnpost in 1875)
K.B. (Königlich Bäyerische): Royal Bavarian
KURS: Route, trip or journey
Nachträglich Entwertet: (Supplementary Cancel, i.e. applied subsequently and used, for example, to cancel non-German stamps on international German TPOs on entering Germany, or simply on mail which is found not have been postmarked at the point of departure)
ORTSBRIEFE: As for Ortsbund (q.v.)
ORTSBUND: Facing slip for mail to one place, literally ‘Place Bundle.’
POST SPEDITIONS AMT: Postal Dispatch Office (static office: changed to Eisenbahn Post amt in 1856)
POST SPEDITIONS BUREAU: Travelling Post Office (changed to Eisenbahn Post Bureau in 1856)
R (above date in circular TPO datestamp): Retour (Return journey)
SCHAFFNERBAHNPOST: Second Class TPO or Mail guard.
STRECKENBRIEFE: As for Ortsbriefe (q.v.)
T (above date in circular TPO datestamp): Tour (Outward journey)
UMSCHLAGSTELLE: Letter Department
Z (or Zug): Train
Great Britain and Ireland (before independence)
A.M. (Above the date of a TPO postmark): Morning (on first day covers)
B.T. (Bag Tender): a railway mail van devoted to the carriage of sealed bags of mail. (They are equipped with date stamps which are not normally used on ordinary mail.)
C.R. Caledonian Railway
D. (on early TPO postmarks): Down (q.v.)
D. (above the date of a TPO postmark C 1970s): Datapost
D. (above the date of East Anglian TPO 3 July 1967): Believed to be ‘Demonstration’
Down: Travelling away from London or Dublin
D.S.C.: District Sorting Carriage
E. (on TPO postmark other than Glasgow & Carlisle S.T.): Edinburgh Section
E. (on Glasgow & Carlisle S.T.): English Mail (?)
E.H.(or EH): Edinburgh Section
G. (on TPO postmark): Glasgow Section
G.W.(or GW): as for ‘G,’ also Great Western (Railway) as (e.g.) in triangular Inspectors’ marks
L. (on Glasgow & Carlisle S.T.): Limited Mail (q.v.)
Late Fee: Extra postage payable on mail posted directly into a travelling post office or into special posting boxes at railway stations, which were cleared into travelling post offices.
Limited Mail: Mail train with limited passenger accommodation.
Perfin: Letters perforated in a stamp to discourage unauthorised usage. The letters are usually the initials of the Company using the stamp, e.g. ‘C.R.’ for Caledonian Railway.
R.S.C. (or RLY.S.C.): Railway Sorting Carriage
S.C.: Sorting Carriage
Side: When a travelling post office makes Up and Down journeys on alternate nights, two sets of vehicles are required. The two sets of vehicles are called ‘sides.’
Special: Train entirely devoted to the carriage and sorting of mail
ST.: Sorting Tender
R.P.O.: Railway Post Office
R.S.C.; Railway Sorting Carriage
R.S.O.: Railway Sub Office
T.P.O.: Travelling Post Office
U. (on TPO postmark): Up (q.v.)
Up: Travelling towards London or Dublin.
A (ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥΠΟΛΙΣ): Alexandroupolis
AMB. Mail Guard
Θ (ΘΕΣΣΑΛΟΝΙΚΗ): Thessaloniki
K. (KINHTA or KINHTON): Travelling (Post Office)
Π (ΠΕΙΡΑΙΕΥΣ): Piraeus
ΣTAΘMPOY (Stathmou): Station
TAXYΔPOMIKON: Post Office
Translations follow for the text of certain postmarks.
TAX. ΓΡΑΦ. KOPINΘOY-AIΓΙΟΥ: Corinth Station Office, Corinth-Aegean Line.
TAX. ΓΡΑΦ. KOPINΘOY-APΓΟΥΣ: Corinth Station Office, Argos Line
TAΧ. ΠΑΡΑΡΤ. ΣΙΔΗΡΟΔΡ. ΣΥΑΘΜΟΥ ΠΕΙΡΑΙΩΣ: Piraeus Railway Station Branch Office
(In full: TAXYΔPOMIKON ΠAPAPTHMA ΣΙΔΗΟΔΡΟΜΟΥ ΣΤΑΘΜΟΥ ΠΕΙΡΑΙΩΣ)
TAXYIΔPOMIKON ΓΡΑΦΕΙΟΝ AΘHNΩN-KOPINΘOY: Athens Station Office, Corinth Line
CS.SZM. (Csomagszállítómenet): Parcel carrying journey.
Gy.S.E.V. (Györ-Sopron-Ebenfurth Vasút): Private railway across Austrian border.
HÍRLAP MOZGÓPOSTA: Newspaper TPO
jm (jegyzékelömenetek): Conductor Post (i.e. mail guard.)
km (közvetito menet): Intermediate Journey (i.e. a second class travelling post office).
M: Menet Járat, i.e. Outward journey or Down
MÁV (MAGYAR ÁLLAMVASUTAK): Hungarian State Railways
M. KIR. (MAGYAR KIRALY) MOZGÓPOSTA (HIVATAL): Hungarian Royal Travelling Post Office
MOZGÓPOSTA: Travelling Post Office
POSTAKALAUZ: Post Conductor, i.e. mail guard.
Postaközeg: Postal Agent.
Postamenet: Postal Journey.
POSTE PRATNIK: Mail guard
P.U. ( or P.Udv) (Pályaudvar): Railway Station.
P.Ü. (Postaügyn): Postal Agent (not necessarily railway).
T: Térti Járat, i.e. Return Journey or Up
SZ (SZAM): Number
VASP (Vasút Pályaudvar): Railway Station
VASÚTÁLLOMAS: Railway Station
BEAT: The portion of the railway over which the section (q.v.) works.
CIRCLE: The Indian Post Office was divided into circles: Bombay, NWP, Sind etc., thus a circle was a geographical division. However the RMS (q.v.) was, in 1881, itself constituted as a postal circle covering the whole of India. The geographical circles were subsequently known as divisions.
DIVISION: See circle above.
F.M.S.: Foreign Mail Service, i.e. sections of the RMS dealing with the overland mails from (say) Calcutta to Bombay to connect with the mail steamers at Ballard Pier.
FRONTIER: A frontier travelling post office (or section) was one, which crossed from one circle or division to another.
F.S.O.: Frontier Sorting Office.
LATE FEE: As for Great Britain.
LOCAL: A local travelling post office (or section) was one, which remained within its own circle.
M.A. (Mail Agent): the officer in charge of a mail office (q.v.). The word agent in India does not imply (as in other countries) that the agent was not an employee of the Post Office.
MAIL GUARD: A mail guard would collect and receive sealed bags of mail and deal with individual items which were handed to him, posted in the box attached to the train or situated at a railway station. He would not have conducted a full scale sorting operation. Mail guards were in operation as long ago as 1854 but the earliest recorded marks date from about 1871.
M.O. (Mail Office): A stationary office of the RMS. There are two categories:
(i) Sorting mail offices (SMO) which carry out sorting. They are normally numbered 50-74.
(ii) Transit mail offices (TMO) which deal with sealed bags only. They are normally numbered 75-99.
MAIL PEON: Mail messenger, another name for mail guard (q.v.)
P.S.O.: Parcel Sorting Office.
RECORD OFFICE: A stationary office of the railway mail service where documentation for the sections (q.v.) is prepared.
RH: Receiving House (not necessarily railway).
R.M.S. (Railway Mail Service): This replaced the Travelling Post Office in 1881.
R.S.: Railway Station or Railway Sorting depending on the context. Usually it is a station unless there is reason to believe otherwise.
R.S.O.: Railway Sorting Office.
SECTION (see Travelling post office): Sections are travelling post offices of the RMS. There are two categories:
(i) Sorting sections (normally numbered 1-24) (In the UK these would be called travelling post offices).
(ii) Transit sections (normally numbered 25-49) The equivalent of the mail guard within the RMS.
SET: the establishment of RMS sorters (the crew), whether in a travelling or stationary office.
‘T’ (in bars): The obliteration used by offices of the Travelling Post Office (q.v.).
TRAVELLING POST OFFICE: a railway vehicle constructed or adapted for the carriage and sorting of mail while in transit (now called a section).
S.R.O.: Sub Record Office (see Record Office).
THE TRAVELLING POST OFFICE (superseded in 1881 by the Railway Mail Service): The service responsible for sorting mail in post offices, mail offices and sections and its disposal by the railway, etc.
WINDOW: A window at which articles may be collected or tendered for dispatch.
ANÍOS (or SUAS): Up
B.A.C. (Baile Atha Cliath): Dublin
C.S.: Sorting Carriage
P.O.T. (POST OIFIG TAISTILL): Travelling Post Office
AMBULANTE (or AMB) (short for ufficio ambulante): Travelling Post Office
AMBULANZA : As for Ambulante (q.v.)
FERROVIA (accent on via): Railway (Station)
MESSAGGERE: Mail guard
SEZ. (SEZIONE): Section (of the TPO)
STAZIONE: Railway Station
TURNO: Crew or Shift
The distinguishing character for travelling post offices is the Aida character meaning ‘between.’ It is to be found to the left of the route indication on earlier postmarks, but more recent postmarks have it at the right, for example ‘Tokyo-Hiroshima Between.’
DZ (Dselss Zela): Railway
DZ. PK: Railway Post Office
DZ. ST. (DSELSSZELA ST): Railway Station
OTR (OTRADI): Return
P.V. (Pasta Vagona): Postal Wagon, i.e. Travelling Post Office
P.V. NOD (Pasta Vagona Nodala): Postal Wagon Compartment
P.W. (Pasta Wagon or Pasta Wahgis): Postal Wagon
P.V. (Pasto Vagonas): Postal Wagon, i.e. Travelling Post Office
AMBT. (Ambulant): Travelling Post Office
BAHNPOST: Travelling Post Office
CONVOYAGE: Travelling Mail Guard
CONVOYAGE-AMBULANT: Possibly a service between a mail guard and a full travelling post office.
F.C. (Facteurs-Convoyeurs): As for ‘Convoyage.’
M* (Matin): Morning
N* (Nachmittag): Afternoon or Evening
S* (Soir): Afternoon or Evening
SCHAFFNER-BAHNPOST: As for Convoyage-Ambulant
V* (Vormittag): Morning
* As a suffix to the time indication after the date in the rectangular postmarks.
F.C. (Ferrocarril): Railway
O.P.A. (Oficina Postal Ambulante): Travelling Post Office
Transb. (Oficina de Transbordes Postals): Transfer Office (as under USA)
H. SPOORWEG: Hollandsche Ijzeren Spoorweg (Holland Iron Railway)
N.R. SPOOR WEG: Nederlandsche Rhijnspoorweg (Dutch Rhenish Railway)
POSTKANTOOR: Post Office
SPOOR WEG: Railway
SPW POSTKANTOOR: Railway (Station) Post Office
STATION: Railway Station
R.P.O.: Railway Post Office
T.P.O.: Travelling Post Office. Generally a maritime TPO unless the word ‘railway’ is in the postmark.
RAILWAY (or RAIL): Railway Station
R.P.O. Railway Post Office
R.T.P.O.: Railway Travelling Post Office
AGENCIA POSTAL AMBULANTE: Travelling Post Office
BUZON AMBULANTE: Travelling Box
BUZON TREN: Train Box (Thought to have been applied by railway company employees)
BUZON VAPOR: Train Box (As above)
ESTACIÓN: Railway Station
BANEN, BANERNES, etc: Railway
BUREAU AMB: Foreign Mail TPO via Sweden
BUREAU REEXPEDIENT DE KRISTIANIA: Foreign Mail TPO via Sweden
Jernbanestation: Railway Station
Kassepost fra Sverige: Posted in letter box in Sweden
NATTOG: Night Train
STASJON: Railway Station
PXP., POSTEXP., etc. (POSTEKSPEDISJON): Postal dispatch, thus BERGENSBANENS POSTEKSP. = Bergensbanen TPO (or mail guard).
REISESJEFEN: TPO Superintendent
V.L. (Vestre Linje): Western Line
Ø.L. (Østre Linje): Eastern Line
AMB. (AMBULANS POCZTOWY): Travelling Post Office
DWORZEC KOLEJOWY: Railway Station
LIST DWORCOWY: Station Letter (Definition under ‘Germany’)
POLECONY: Registered Letter
A (or AMB) (AMBULANCIA): Travelling Post Office
A.P. (AMBULANCIA POSTAL): Travelling Post Office
CONDUÇAO: Conductor (i.e. mail guard)
E.A. (ESTAÇAO AMBULANTE): Travelling Post Office
R.A. (REPARTIÇAO AMBULANTE): Travelling Post Office
R.P.A. (REPARTIÇAO POSTAL AMBULANTE): Travelling Post office
U.H. (Ultima Hora): Last Hour
AMB: Travelling Post Office
GARA: Railway Station
POŞTA AMBULANTĂ: Travelling Post Office
TREN (Train): Mail Guard
V.P. (VAGON POSTAL): Travelling Post Office
ВАГОНЪ (Vagon): Wagon (ie railway carriage)
ВОКЗ. (ВОКЗАЛЪ) (Vokzal): Major Railway Station
ДОПЛАТИТЪ (Doplatit): To Pay
ЗКСПРЕСС (Ekspress): Express (train)
ЖЕЛѢЗНАЯ ДОРОГА (Zheleznaya Doroga): Railway (Literally iron road)
ЖЕЛѢЗНОДОРОЖНЫЙ П.О. : Railway Postal Section (in some station postmarks) ЗАК (ЗАКАЗНАЯ, ЗАКАЗНОЕ) (Zakaznaya, Zakaznoe): Registered (mail). ИЗЪ (Iz): From (Found in many of the marks used by the St. Petersburg suburban TPOs) OTДѢЛEНIE (Otdelenie): Mail Guard (?) (Literally compartment or section) (N.B. The meaning of this word is disputed. It may not be possible to give a precise translation.) ПЛ. (ПЛАТФОРМА) (Platforma): Railway Platform, Halt. П (ПOѢЗДЪ) (Poezd): Train (Found in some of the marks of the St. Petersburg suburban TPOs) P.V. (ПOЧТОВЫЙ ВАГОНЪ) (Pochtoviy Vagon): Postal Wagon (i.e. travelling post office) РАЗЪѢЗДЪ (Razezd): Railway Siding С.П.Ь. or С.П.ЬУРГ St. Petersburg CT. or СТАНЦІЯ (Stantsiya): (Railway) Station
Note that after 1918 the symbol Ѣ (E) was replaced by ‘E,’ and the soft sign Ъ was omitted.
Special acknowledgements to Kiryushkin & Robinson ‘Russian Railway Postmarks’ (se Bibliography).
СТАНИЦА (Stanitsa): (Railway) Station
HEEN: Down (Literally ‘Away’)
N.E.T.P.O.: North Eastern T.P.O.
P.K. (POSKANTOOR): Post Office
RAIL: Railway Station
R.L.S.: Registered Letter Section
R.O.: Rail Office
R.P.K. (REIZENDE POST KANTOOR, i.e. Dutch: early): Travelling Post Office
R.P.K. (REIZENDE POSKANTOOR, i.e. Afrikaans: post 1920s ): Travelling Post Office
R.T.O.: RAILWAY TELEGRAPH OFFICE
S.A.R.-S.A.S.: SOUTH AFRICAN RAILWAYS - SUID-AFRIKAANSE SPOORWEË
SIDING: Station (unstaffed)
STA P.O., STA P.K.: Station Post Office/ Stasie Poskantoor
STA-POS: (STASIE POSKANTOOR): Station Post Office
STATION B.O.: Station Branch Office
TERUG: Up (Literally ‘Back’)
TVL.T.P.O.: Transvaal T.P.O.
W.T.P.O.: Western T.P.O.
ALCANCE: Late Fee Posting Box
AMB. (AMBULANTE): Travelling Post Office
ASC. (ASCENDENTE): Up
CERT. (CERTIFICADO): Registered
DESC. (DESCENTENTE): Down
EST., ESTn (ESTACIÓN): Railway Station
ESTa (ESTAFETA): POST OFFICE
ESTAFETA AMBULANTE: Travelling Post Office
EXPRES (TREN EXPRES): Limited stop train
LIGERO: (TREN LIGERO): Local stopping train
MIST., MIX., MIXTO (TREN MIXTO): Slow train with passenger cars and freight wagons.
RAPIDO: Express train
SUCURSAL AMBULANTE: TPO Branch Office
TREN POSTAL: Mail only train.
For a comprehensive list of Spanish abbreviations see Nathan Ambulantes in the TPO Bibliography.
ANK (Ankommande): Incoming, arrival
BR: (Boden Region, the same as ØN)
EGEN TRAFIK: ‘Own Traffic’ (Inscribed on freight stamps used when the goods were to be transported by only one railway company: see ‘Samtrafik.’))
FKMB (Fack med Bevackning): Mail in Locked Box
FKMP: Box guarded by postman
FRAN: From (as in Fran Danmark)
G: Göteborg Region, (the same as V)
INR (Inrikes): Inland
Järnvägsstation(en): Railway Station
JPKP (Julpostkupéer): Christmas TPO
L (Linköping Region, the same as Ö)
M (Mellersta Distriktet): Midland District (Before 1977, the same as X after 1977)
M: Malmö Region (After 1977, the same as S before 1977)
NN (Nedre Norra Distriktet): Lower Northern District (the same as YR)
PKP (Postkupéer): Travelling Post Office
P.K.X.P. (Postkupéexpeditioner): Travelling Post Office (literally: Forwarding Mail Van)
PLK (Postiljonskupéexpeditioner): Mail Guard on forwarding Mail Van.
S (Södra Distriktet): Southern District (before 1977, the same as M after 1977)
SAMTRAFIK: Intercompany traffic (See ‘Egentrafik.’)
ST. BAN: Main Line (as in Södra St. Ban, etc.)
STOCKHOLM BAN: Stockholm Railway Station.
UPP (or U): Up
UTR (Utrikes): Overseas
V (Västra Distriktet): Western District (the same as G)
X: Gävle Region (after 1977, the same as M before 1977)
YR: Sundvalls Region (the same as NN)
Ö (Östra Distriktet): Eastern District (the same as L)
ÖN (Övre Nona Distriktet): Upper Northern District (the same as BR)
AMBULANTS: Railway Post Office (TPO Regional HQ)
BA. (BUREAU AMBULANT): Travelling Post Office
BAHNPOSTAMT or BAHNPOSTBUREAU: Railway Post Office (TPO Regional HQ)
B.B. (BADISCHE BAHNHOF): Baden Railway Station, Basel.
BP. (BAHNPOST): Travelling Post Office (or mailguard)
C.F.F. (CHEMINS DE FER FÉDÉRAUX SUISSES): Swiss Federal Railways
FIL (FILIALE): Branch (Office)
F.F.S. (FERROVIE FEDERALI SVIZZERE): Swiss Federal Railways
FÜRKA.BAHN: Fürka Oberalp Railway
GARE: Railway Station.
HAUPTBAHNHOF: Main Station
REGIONAL: Regional (Railway). (i.e. a local TPO usually attached to a stopping train)
RHÄT. BAHN: Rhaetian Railway
S.B.B. (SCHWEIZERISCHE BUNDESBAHNEN): Swiss Federal Railways
S.B.B. (SCHWEIZERISCHE BUNDESBAHNHOF): Swiss Federal Railways Station, Basel.
S.C.B. (SCHWEIZERISCHE CENTRAL BAHN): Swiss Central Railway
S.C.B. (SCHWEIZERISCHE CENTRAL BAHNHOF): Swiss Central Railway Station, Basel.
STATION: Railway Station
STAZIONE: Railway Station
SUCC. (SUCCURSAL): Branch (Office)
Z (ZUG): Train
SEYYAR: Mobile, Travelling
AGT.: Route Agent (roughly equivalent to mail guard)
CITY DIST: City Distribution (i.e. walk sort)
DEPOT: Railway Station
E.D.: Eastern Division (of an RPO route)
F.M.: Fast Mail (Mail only train)
L.M.A. (or L.M.Agt.): Local Mail Agent (railway mail transfer clerk (q.v.))
M.D.: Middle Division
M.R.M: Mail Route Messenger (i.e. route agent)
N.D: Northern Division
PTS: Postal Transportation Service
RMS: Railway Mail service
ROUND TABLE: Sorting Table at Transfer Office (q.v.)
R.P.O: Railway Post Office (travelling post office)
R.R. (Railroad): Route Agent cancel
S.D: Southern Division
S.R. Short Run (part of a RPO route)
STATION: Postal Station (i.e. a sorting office with no railway connection unless
TERMINAL R.P.O.: Transfer Office (q.v.)
T.R: Through Run (complete RPO route)
TRANSFER CLERK: The clerk at a transfer office (q.v.)
TRANSFER OFFICE: An office of the RMS (q.v.) which, being situated at a railway
station, exchanged mails between RPOs and city sorting offices.
TRICK: Tour of duty
W.D: Western Division.
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Travelling Post Offices
Railway Letter Stamps
TPO & Station Bibliography