Postal Termanology Explained: Poste Restante
The Poste Restante service allows anyone to address an item of mail for a person to collect at a specific Post Office provided they do so within, normally, three weeks.
Offered with travellers in mind - who could have mail addressed to them sent to places they would soon arrive at - philatelists, postal history buffs and collectors have also been making use of the service to obtain unusual or interesting returned mail postmarks and covers.
The typical philatelic use of the Poste Restante service would mean a collector creates an envelope addressed to themselves at a far flung Post Office anywhere in the world although they have no intention of travelling there. A clear return address on the reverse of the envelope means that, if all goes well, the envelope would be returned to the sender cancelled, with any luck, by a local postmark and perhaps some additional transit markings too.
Only a few British Post Offices appear to have employed specific datestamps reserved for use on Poste Restante mail so keep a look out for returned mail items - that bear a datestamp with a "P.R." somewhere within the postmark for example - as these could prove quite scarce items for you to include and document in a collection.
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