Englishman Who Posted Himself: biography of a postal experimenter

A new book called The Englishman who Posted Himself and Other Curious Objects tells the amazing story of W. Reginald Bray, a stamp collector who experimented with mailing odd objects (including himself) through the Royal Mail. Whoever said philately will get you nowhere?

The New Yorker has a small and edifying gallery of his postal experiments.

Perhaps most remarkably, he posted himself, becoming the first man to send a human through the mail in 1900, and then, through registered mail, in 1903. Tingey's book includes a picture of Bray being delivered to his own doorstep–presumably the sort of package likely to please the lady of the house.

And Bray did not stop there. He sent postcards crocheted by his mother. He made out address fields in cryptic verse, or to the inhabitants of empty caves, or describing only the latitude and longitude of the destination, or with a picture of the location to which the article was meant to be delivered (see, in the slideshow below, the postcard made out to "The Resident Nearest This Rock," for example). He threw messages into bottles and solicited the world's largest collection of autographs, including ones from Gary Cooper and Laurence Olivier, Charlie Chaplain and Maurice Chevalier. The image that emerges from this antic and visually arresting volume is of a blithe English rogue, testing the system, stretching its limits–an experimenter, playing the most relentless, and amusing, of pranks.

The Eccentric Englishman

(Thanks, Fonsecalloyd, via Submitterator)