So much a part of our streets that we tend to take them for granted, the bright red free-standing pillar box is still a unique feature of Britain. Introduced in 1853 – in green but painted crimson from 1874 – the ruling monarch’s cypher is the best guide to their age. London’s first was at the corner of Fleet Street and Farringdon Street.
Traditionally UK post boxes carry the Latin initials of the reigning monarch at the time of their installation: in this case VR for Victoria Regina or in the case of a male regent, e.g., GR for George Rex.
Edward VII: 1901-1910 – About 6 per cent of UK boxes have the ER VII cypher, which also introduced the crown. The main change is the posting slot in the door to stop mail getting caught up in the top. The aperture was now rainproof, and this same design has continued through the reigns of George V and George VI to the present day.
George V: 1910-1936 – The mystery of George V is why there is no ‘V” in his cypher. In 1924 oval enamel signs were added to some boxes pointing to the nearest post office. Much subject to vandalism and now valuable collectors items, there are few such signs left in the wild
Edward VIII: 1936 – The abdication of Edward VIII left few pillar boxes in his name as, although 161 were made, most were vandalised or had the cypher ground off. There are perhaps 15 left in London.
While walking aroung today I found one GR, ERVII (King Edward VII), GRVI (King George VI), ERII (Queen Elizabeth II),VR (Queen Victoria). I know that is crazy but is very excited to found in the streets of London part of its history in such a great shape.