Art Deco Mailboxes

An Illustrated Design History

Karen Greene (Author), Lynne Lavelle (Author)


A great gift book for lovers of unsung urban decorative art and unique architectural details.

Mailboxes and their chutes were once as essential to the operation of any major hotel, office, civic, or residential building as the front door. In time they developed a decorative role, in a range of styles and materials, and as American art deco architecture flourished in the 1920s and 1930s they became focal points in landmark buildings and public spaces: the GE Building, Grand Central Terminal, the Woolworth Building, 29 Broadway, the St. Regis Hotel, York & Sawyer’s Salmon Tower, the Waldorf Astoria, and many more.

While many mailboxes have been removed, forgotten, disused, or painted over (and occasionally repurposed), others are still in use, are polished daily, and hold a place of pride in lobbies throughout the country.

A full-color photographic survey of beautiful early mailboxes, highlighting those of the grand art deco period, together with a brief history of the innovative mailbox-and-chute system patented in 1883 by James Cutler of Rochester, New York, Art Deco Mailboxes features dozens of the best examples of this beloved, dynamic design’s realization in the mailboxes of New York City as well as Chicago, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and beyond.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • December 2014
  • ISBN 978-0-393-73340-2
  • 6 × 9.1 in / 160 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“[A] wonderful survey of the iconic mailboxes installed in American buildings in early 20th century. Seeing just one still extant in a building today is a treat, but viewing them all together gives a sense of the range of styles and how they reflected, in detail, the architectural prowess of the skyscrapers within which they were situated.” — Untapped Cities

“For those who have admired the design of mailboxes in buildings around the world, the book sets them in the context of technology, government regulations regarding post, the link between an interior aspect and the overall design of a building, materials, and symbolism. . . . What fun Karen Greene must have had tracking them down across the country and then convincing building owners and doormen to allow her to photograph them! . . . A book such as this illustrates the importance of researching and recording ‘ordinary’ items that form such an important part of the history of our cities.” — Spirit of Progress, Journal of Art Deco and Modernism Society Inc.

“[A] fine-looking small volume that shows one box after another with polished brass and intricate casting. . . . The gallery of photos here is a showcase for Deco design, and is a delightful documentation of a form of corporate folk art that blossomed and is now no more.” — The Dispatch

“[A] recommendation for any interested in folk art and art deco history. . . . [A] lovely book that will especially appeal to architects, designers, and artists alike.” — Midwest Book Review

Also by Lynne Lavelle All

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