sent through the mail

Neither rain, nor wind, nor driving snow will stop the delivery of the mail. Nor, apparently, will disgusting items; heavy items; bizarre items; or the fact that the item is a living human being. Here are some of the strangest things people have successfully sent through the mail.


When the U.S. Postal Service began delivering packages in 1913, it didn’t take long for people to realize that it was cheaper to mail their children than it was to buy them train tickets. One such couple, Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Beauge of Glen Este, Ohio, paid $15 cents in stamps to send their son to his grandmother’s house. If this sounds a little foolish, not to worry: the couple also insured their son for $50.

It didn’t take long for the Postal Service to outlaw the practice of shipping children. However, certain Postmasters were inclined to be lenient. During this time period, one couple even successfully mailed a 14 lb baby to its grandma. Finally, in 1915, the straw that broke the camel’s back came when May Pierstorff, just shy of her 6th birthday, was sent over 73 miles away to her grandparents’ house. After that, the Postal Service declared an all-out ban on child delivery.

80,000 bricks

1916, there was no law against shipping an entire building through the mail, because no one thought that someone would attempt it. They didn’t count on William H. Coltharp, a man with a dream to build a bank and a limited shipping budget. He calculated that the best way to send his bricks to his construction site, 127 miles away, was via the U.S. mail. He had 40 crates packed just under the 50 lb limit, for a total shipment of 40 tons.

The Utah post office was overwhelmed, but to its credit, successfully completed the job. However, the episode prompted the then-Postmaster, General Burleson, to limit the weight one person could send to 200 lbs per day. “It is not the intent of the United States Postal Service that buildings be shipped through the mail,” he wrote.

The Hope Diamond

The most expensive item to ever be shipped through the mail was the Hope Diamond. At the time, the rare, blue, possibly-cursed diamond already had an ownership record dating back almost four centuries. After passing through the hands of Kings, Queens, royal mistresses, jewelers, and thieves, the diamond wound up in the hands of New York merchant Harry Winston in 1958. Winston, who never believed that the diamond was cursed, exhibited it for several years in his “Court of Jewels” tour.

Eventually, Winston decided that he wanted the diamond to belong to the U.S. National Museum of Natural History. Not a man of great fussiness, apparently, Winston wrapped the diamond in brown paper and shipped it through the ordinary post. He paid $2.44 for postage and about $142 for insurance. The diamond arrived at its destination safe and sound, and was given a new name, Specimen #217868.

A pet chameleon

In 1954, an Ohio man known only as “David” decided that his pet chameleon would be much happier in Florida. A few weeks after sending it on its way, he received the following note from Orlando’s then-Postmaster: “Dear David, I received your chameleon yesterday and he was immediately released on the post office grounds. Best wishes for a Merry Christmas!” For those curious, chameleons can still be mailed, as well as bees, scorpions, chickens, and fish. You can view a complete list of mailable animals here.

A molar

In 2000, a team of social scientists decided to test the Post Office’s limits once again. Researchers mailed themselves items ranging from a single ski; a green coconut; a street sign; a wheel of rancid cheese; a deer tibia; and…a human molar. All of the items, including the molar, arrived intact to their destinations.

The tooth was apparently the only item over which the postal service had some deliberation. While the rest of the items shipped within 7 business days, the tooth took twice as long to arrive. Finally, it was delivered in a repackaged mailer with an accompanying note. “Please be advised that human remains may not be transported through the mail. But we assumed this to be of sentimental value, and made an exception in your case.”

A human foot

This story happened in quiet, peaceful Canada, where everyone loves their politicians. Just kidding. Politicians are hated everywhere, and one dissatisfied voter decided to express his disagreements with then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper by mailing in a severed human foot. According to Ottawa police spokesman Marc Soucy, the package was shipped despite what appeared to be bloodstains on the outside of the box. Staff members who received it then called the police.

Hours later, authorities discovered a second suspicious package at the Ottawa Postal Terminal Tuesday night, this one containing a human hand. Police confirmed that it originated from the same place as the foot. However, they declined to say where the package was being sent.

Get packaging materials from SSI Packaging

Need to mail a chameleon, diamond, or human foot to your friends and enemies? SSI Packaging has everything you need. From tape, to mailers, to bubble wrap, we offer everything small businesses need to pack and track their items. For more information, stop by or give us a call.

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