Polar Bear Local Post

(Now defunct)

and information about local posts in general, including
Spring River Local Post, Jasper County, MO

This 1984 first day cover of the Alaska Statehood USPS issue features a local post stamp (some prefer to refer to it as a label), and features artwork by well known philatelic artist Steven Caddick. The proprietor of the Polar Bear Local Post was the late Paul Mills, who was an ASPP member. This is simply a strikingly beautiful local post cover, and one of the very few Arctic local posts I have seen, and I am speaking of modern-day local posts. To the best of my knowledge, this local post is defunct, and ended operation sometime in the mid-1980's, with the passing of its owner. If I am mistaken about that, someone who knows specifics might please let me know.

Modern-day local posts became popular when the late Herman Herst, prominent philatelist and author, operated his
Shrub Oak Local Post in the early 1950's.  His dog, Alfie, was named as carrier number 1, and the dog achieved widespread acclaim, with cards and letters of affection pouring in from around the world, as well as requests for carriage of mail. 

I have ran my own Local Post (called the Spring River Local Post) since 1982, and like most modern-day local posts, is mainly operated just for fun and as a diversion; technically, they are clearly authorized by Title 18 of the United States Code (18 USC §1696), which does allow private mail carriage over any regular routes (and times) in which the USPS does not deliver mail, and for one to do so does not violate the strict monopoly over letter mail that the postal service has maintained since 1847, as long as certain conditions are met and the regular U.S. postage is also paid for subsequent relay.   As an example, if I miss my rural carrier pickup, the postal service does not offer a route from my house to the post office anytime after 2PM in the afternoon; yet Spring River Local Post does.  "They" will pick up my mail and deliver it by special courier to the nearest post office for onward postal transmission by the USPS, and the USPS still gets their 44¢.  It is one of those laws that has been on the books since approximately 1873, and for the most part, is relatively unchanged.

Although many local post stamps are denominated, my guess is that very few, if any, actually really charge for the "service" of carrying mail to or from the nearest post office. There have been some instances in the 20th century when that really did occur, such as mail to obscure resort areas and notably to Rattlesnake Island, Ohio, where the post office more or less forgot them, in the opinion of the residents, who had no mail service.  They established a local post service. The Rattlesnake Island Local Post, to carry mail to the island residents, and as of 2009, it is still operational.  The Wichita Stamp Club has an informational page about the Rattlesnake Island Local Post  here.  Some local post operators produce a lot of Cinderella material, some which could charitably be termed as being borderline goofy, and they do charge for the stamps/labels, as getting anything printed professionally costs money. Some local post stamps or labels are very professional looking, and others might be termed as homemade or are produced on the PC with a desktop program.  Mainly, local post operators seek to have fun with their creations, and to lend their outgoing mail some decorative flair.   Also see MailArt.   In many instances, the decoration approaches what would be considered as a piece of “mail art.”

Local post stamps and labels are often included in the peripheral area of "Cinderellas", yet are a sub-specialty all to their own. Local Post stamps are typically applied to the front side of the cover, but in this case, it was on the back, and the large "cancellation" device Mills used probably called for that, due to the design on the front side.  I do not have any of these polar bear local post stamps for sale or trade, and this was the only cover I have. (It was part of the entire collection you see on these pages; lost in the divorce! My entire collection was sold by my ex during the pendency of action and the profits taken for her own use, and the spineless judge would not even consider equity, which he is allowed to do … i.e. “it’s nice to have the judge in your pocket” theory alive and well.)

Scan of a beautiful cover from the Polar Bear Local Post for the 1984 Alaska Statehood issue.

Back side of the Polar Bear Local Post cover shown above.


Text of Letter from Paul C. Mills about closing of the Polar Bear Local Post(1984)

Undated Article about Polar Bear Local Post, by Nehemiah Ames

 Another Modern-Day Classic Local Post: Brook Hill Local Service

Article about Cape Kennedy Local Post and Satellite Beach LP, circa 1965


If you would like an example of my local post cover for your collection, (note that it does not look like the polar bear one which is illustrated above) you may send up to five (5) pre-addressed, pre-stamped (with correct postage) envelopes or postcards to me at:

Please email me for updated mailing address.

 and I will apply my current  Spring River Local Post stamp/label--the subjects vary; along with other ancillary markings and return it to you through the mailstream, most likely with a local Mailer's Postmark Permit cancellation from Joplin, MO 64801.  As to Mailer’s Postmark Permits, anyone can own a Mailer's Postmark Permit to cancel their own mail, and there is even a society of collectors for Mailer's Postmark Permits; I have provided a link below.

If you want to avoid the ubiquitous additional postmarks or jetsprays as it travels back enroute back to you, I would suggest you include a polysleeve for me to insert your cover back in, risking a surcharge for non-machineable mail… or perhaps better yet, a separate SASE so I can return your item under cover.  Foreign collectors can also send me covers franked with 98 cents US postage for the overseas airmail rate (now known as International First Class) as of May 2009, or you can send 1 International Reply Coupon (IRC) per cover, and I will be happy to post these to foreign correspondents as well.  If you are not sure of the correct amount, check the USPS website.

Go here to visit the Spring River Local Post Page

Go here to visit the Homepage of the Mailer's Postmark Permit Club (MPPC)

Go here to visit the Homepage of the Local Post Collector’s Society

Back to My Main Polar Philately Page

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