5 Facts on Mail Deliveries Before House Numbers Existed Infographic

The majority of us make use of something we might not even be aware of as a luxury—daily mail. Can you envision life without house numbers? Have you ever considered how individuals located houses and how postal carriers distributed mail prior to the invention of home addresses? Join us as we view a home number from the past.

Distributing Mail Before House Numbers Existed

Businesses utilized figurative signs like dragons or cobras to assist postal carriers identify them before using house numbers. To identify the correct spot, people had to rely on detailed descriptions. Over time, people came to see how many problems with misdirected mail and locating homes might be resolved by a house numbering system.

Postmen found that asking people on their route for hints was the greatest way to help them on their daily missions to carry mail. Letter carriers had to cope with a variety of strange descriptions before setting out on a mission to deliver mail since there were no standards for addressing a letter. They would need to interpret details like “To my brother Howard, Down a Close, Edinburgh. His leg is like a peg.”

Standardizing the Numerals

In the 1800s, house numbers spread around the globe.


The Metropolitan Management Act started enforcing rules governing addresses in England in 1855. Home addresses and systematic mail delivery were only getting started. The Board of Works established and governed the authority to manage street names and numbers in 1855. They had a challenging task. Their task was to make the street name and housing numbering systems simpler.

Later that year, with assistance from the Board of Works, London was divided into ten distinct districts, each with a unique postal code that was not the same as the ones used today, which were developed in the 1960s. EC (Eastern Central) and WC (Western Central) were two common acronyms used as codes.

United States

The British were the ones who introduced the first house numbers to the American colonies. They did so to keep tabs on the rebellious colonists. However, because the numbers were not standardized, it was difficult to find residences or companies using them.

The Philadelphia system served as the foundation for subsequent attempts to standardize home numbers. According to this approach, houses were assigned even numbers for one side of the street and odd numbers for the other, as is typical in most modern communities.

House Numbers Nowadays

Since the days of arbitrary symbols, arbitrary numbers, and arbitrary names, our home numbering system has advanced significantly. Many other nations adopted the trend that London started, and we now have a very excellent system from the past. Imagine receiving deliveries from Amazon in the future without addresses.

Every day, we pass by street names and home numbers without really thinking about them. We are fortunate to live in a period where street names and house numbers are standardized and make sense. We never have to worry about our mail arriving at us or must write an envelope with strange details.

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source: https://www.modernhousenumbers.com/blogs/news/how-was-mail-delivered-before-house-numbers


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