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Blog > (Postal) systems at work

Postal related videos have a soft spot in our mail-loving hearts… bonus points if they feature postcards and envelopes whizzing by at the speed of light! 😀

So we were happy to discover another of these videos, which Ana (aka ninocas) from Portugal shared with us. Some details are specific to the USA, but in our experience, this is how mail is processed in most countries as well. Have a look:

The video is part of Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum’s permanent exhibition Systems at Work, where you can learn how the postal service works and has evolved over the past 200 years.

If you’re not in the US, you can still “visit” this exhibition (and the whole museum in fact!) on their virtual tours — it’s super interesting!

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45 comments so far

EmilJohn, Philippines
I'm not even halfway of the video but I'm here to say that it's breathtaking! I'm amazed by how the system works!
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kugusch, Germany
Awesome blog entry! Thanks for posting this!
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darkestperu, United States of America
I went to the US Postal Museum last year and watched this video probably three times in a row. Great video, so glad to see it here. The postal museum is really amazing--if you are ever in Washington DC, you should definitely find a couple of hours to go to it. They even have free postcards there for you to send (you have to buy the stamp). (It is supposed to have a special postmark if you mail from there, but mine didn't.)
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Tindra1, Netherlands
Wow, amazing!
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Luziaceleste, Brazil
Shocking the treatment machine delivers to our dare postcards... Sure in future those machines would be like gentle hands manipulating mail! lol
Thanks for sharing it!
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D1ana, United States of America
Impressive video!
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honeybee, Austria
Very interesting! They do a great work!
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zomertje, Netherlands
This system is simular to the Dutch system, I have watched the machines in our distribution centre in Den Bosch. We had a tour because we are postmen/woman.
It is impressive to see. Thanks for sharing,love it.
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Ann66, Netherlands
Indeed zomertje this system is similar to the Dutch system. I have seen it in the distribution centre in Utrecht. It's nice to see how things work.
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marthe2403, Ukraine
So cool!
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MagdaG, Poland
It's incredible how it works :) I'm under impression. Great job!
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ColorfulCourtney, Germany
Really interesting, thanks for sharing!
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zeroday, United States of America
WOW...our brave little postcards...
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paradonym, Germany
seems that usps bundles up delivery and the sending process of all mail things. Here in germany sending letters is way different than reciving one.
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jean-mimi, France
You want to see what happens to a letter entrusted to the French Post Office?
http://legroupe.laposte.fr/Decouverte/Le-voyage-d-une-lettre-verte
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beesknees, United States of America
I wonder where the mail goes that doesnt make it - probably the same place that socks go - 2 go in only 1 comes out!
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edo, Spain
Awesome!!!It´s really impressive to see how the machines works!!
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kapple94, Korea (South)
It's very interesting! Thank you for amazing video:)
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Grayrabbit, United States of America
Very interesting! I'm not sure about other countries, but the US Post Office isn't very highly regarded and viewed as an antiquated, inefficient, bloated government organization that is staffed by lazy, over-entitled workers. Seeing a video like this does change those feelings a bit (they still need to work on their customer service skills). Quite impressive actually. To think this used to be done by hand. It'd greatly benefit USPS if they got this information out there more often.
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miwi2, Germany
I wonder where my traveling cards are processed at the moment....good luck in that machines!
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Knerq, United States of America
Cool video! Thanks for sharing!
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knally13, United States of America
Awesome video! I'm so glad you shared it with us!
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mezzana, Czech Republic
Thanks for this eye-opening post. Now I know why to really precisely pack packages ☺
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ecceden, Latvia
superheroes don't always wear capes!
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CatharinaG3, Netherlands
Awesome! Love this video, thanks for sharing!
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Ramya, United States of America
This is thrilling!
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Ninocas, Portugal
Not too different from Portugal :)
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browntrout, Germany
Great video. Was surprised to learn USPS processes half of the world,s post volume.
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cspt, United States of America
I can send a "Systems at Work" postcard to the first two postcrossers who contact me with their address. Send me a message or U2U! Pax et bonum,

Carol
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depechemode73, Italy
F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C !
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Franciscaatje, Netherlands
fascinating. I wonder if these machines recognise all handwriting? even mine. I noticed that my postcards to The US travel much faster when I print the adress
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juoda, Lithuania
Amazing video!
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Sollozzo, United States of America
I live here in the USA and this is the most detailed video probably ever made regarding the US Postal Service. The USPS is very guarded with their systems and does not allow for television documentaries or in-depth articles to be written about their systems/procedures. Unless they ever loosen their information security this is likely the best we will ever get.
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iphoto, Australia
This Postcrosser could note help but notice that in the video (as awesome of an insight that it was to how our mail is processed) they state at the top of the editorial that they process up to half of the worlds letters, flats and parcels. Interesting fact!? Yes is was :D

My observation: What is happening to all the missing / expired postcards? I'm at a loss as to how so many go astray each year ... Just saying!

We in good faith send our postcards with the correct and sometimes additional postage than required - my hope for 2016 is more diligence in the process of sorting mail & the emptying of street mail boxes world wide as this would equate to more sm:)es for all Postcrossers ... Again just saying!
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medusa242, United States of America
I've seen this video several times at the Postal Museum. I'm lucky because I live very close by & visit often.

Remember that the U.S. Postal Service is an -independent agency- of the United States federal government.

Also, the Postal Service receives NO tax dollars for operating expenses & relies on the sale of postage, products & services to fund its operations.

The very fact that the Postal Service can continue as they do with no tax dollars is amazing to me. It is a travesty that the U.S. does not realize how important they are. Maybe that is why a lot of postal workers are surly & don't have good attitudes. I'd be upset too!
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MimiWanderer, Sri Lanka
This is impressive. I wondered how a big country like US handles post. Amazing!
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janetvande, United States of America
I agree with medusa242. We Americans should better appreciate our postal system and its employees. Even the grumpy ones! But most of them are really nice, even when dealing with grumpy customers.
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Gemini17, Netherlands
Very interesting video! Impressive!
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Queenofeverything, United States of America
I worked for the US Postal Service as a Rural Mail Carrier for over 25 years and it still amazes me how well our postal system works. People expect their mail to arrive at its intended destination not only in a timely fashion but in excellent condition. I think everyone in the US should watch this video so that they get a better understanding of the how and why their mail travels and how it is processed; a tiny error at one phase can totally affect the outcome of an item's delivery. If the USPS hasn't already done so, they need to make a video about what happens when and how mail is damaged along its journey; also to show how incorrect address information can delay delivery or make delivery next to impossible. NIXIE centers (places that handle such undeliverable mail) are also very interesting and important but unlike automated systems, it relies upon actual humans to do the work of finding a piece of mail's intended recipient.
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MainStation, Germany
I went to this museum in 2015. And I loved loved loved it.
It's super interesting. The admission is free, they have free postcards and the post office inside the museum sent out my card with a special postmark. And you can get free, used stamps to start your own collection.

While I was there they had a special exhibition about a project called post secret. Which was super interesting.
Maybe would be a topic for a new blog....
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elanj123, United States of America
wow, I never knew!!! This explains why I get bulk from one country one day and a different country the next, lol!!!
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Esmeral, Netherlands
This is really breathtaking!
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Axolotl_, Germany
Wow, super interesting video, thanks for sharing!
As MainStation said, PostSecret would definitely be a nice topic for another blog entry. I read it every Sunday and I'm sure other Postcrossers would be interested in it too.
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earthwarrior, Germany
This is a really cool video!!! 😀 So much work goes into recieving a postcard or letter. I must think of this every time I send a postcard even though maybe it's different in my country. 😊
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meiadeleite, Portugal
@MainStation @Axolotl_ we did write about PostSecret, back in 2013: https://www.postcrossing.com/blog/2013/06/24/postsecret :)
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