The Hungarian Royal Post
Thanks to negotiations within the frame of the Compromise, the Hungarian Royal Post was established on 1st May in 1867, almost 150 years ago. Setting it up took more than ten years, during that time plenty of post offices were built.
The buildings were surrounded by huge courtyards typically with stables and sheds to receive post-horses and stage-coaches; offices also functioned as post stations. It is true that there had already been stations earlier. One of the most famous ones was in Gyorskocsi Street, where people commuting between Vienna and Buda often appeared, as well as in the near Fehér Kereszt Fogadó (White Cross Inn) that is called Casanova house now. On the other hand, the newly established post offices functioned as national public offices besides still serving for transporting passengers and forwarding consignments. Inscriptions on escutcheons became Hungarian and the post-horn and crown – which are still the emblems of Magyar Posta – came into general use. The first Hungarian stamp was issued in 1871, thus the Hungarian postal service became independent completely. Its typical colours were green and red. Interestingly, women were also allowed to work for the institute after the world war due to lack of workforce.
The post and telegraph services were unified in 1887, thus the services of the post-office were extended. The first telephone exchange was opened in 1881 and the telephone newspaper (Telefon Hírmondó) – Tivadar Puskás’s invention – started speaking in 1893. Mechanization began at the turn of the century: postmen with bicycles and motorcycles appeared as shipments got into the focus first. The real development was felt after the WW I. Besides re-organization, the system was also modernized. It was also the post that provided radio usage with technology as of 1925. The large 120-kW radio tower on Lakihegy was built then, as you can see the report in the following newsreel.
The tower was 314 metres high. Its most interesting part, the two opposing porcelain truncated cones and the steel semi-globes laid on them hold the ironwork. There is a scooped steel globe – as big as a basket-ball – on the top of the aerial. When the tower was renovated in 1968, the globe was exchanged to a new one and the old one was taken to the Post Museum of Budapest, where you can still see it.
The use of postal codes was introduced in the 1970s, with an emblematic animal – a raven holding a letter – that can be familiar for many of us. Allegedly, it became so popular that the post-horn was almost outplaced. After the change of the regime, many things changed, but some things remained the same: the recorded delivery cards and the handwritten letters of advice.
Translated by Zita Aknai