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One of the most famous postal orders in history - the one alleged to have been cashed by George Archer-Shee.
Irish 9 shilling postal order with additional stamp used in 1969. Used postal orders are seldom seen because most were destroyed when they were redeemed or cashed at the post office or bank.

In the United Kingdom (UK), a Postal Order is used for sending money through the mail. In the United States, this is known as a Postal money order. Postal Orders are not legal tender, but a type of promissory note, similar to a cheque.


History and use of the Postal Order

The Postal Order is a direct descendent of the money order which had been established by a private company in 1792. During World War I and World War II, British Postal Orders were temporarily declared legal tender to save paper and labour. Postal Orders can be bought and redeemed at post offices in the UK, although a crossed Postal Order must be paid into a bank account.[1] Until April 2006 they came in fixed denominations but due to increased popularity they were redesigned to make them more flexible and secure. They now have the payee and value added at the time of purchase, making them more like a cheque. The fee for using this form of payment falls into one of three bands - details are available on the Post Office website. The maximum value of Postal Order available is £250.00 with the fee capped at £10.[2] It was a safe method in times past, but nowadays offers very little advantage over cheques or electronic funds transfer. However, Postal Orders have regained popularity, especially as a form of payment for shopping on the Internet, as they are drawn on the Post Office's accounts so a vendor can be certain that they will not bounce. The use of Postal Orders (or postal notes in some countries) was extended to most countries that are now part of the Commonwealth of Nations, plus to a few foreign countries such as Jordan, Egypt and Thailand.


Postal Orders are gaining in popularity as collectables, especially among numismatists who are actively collecting banknotes.

There is an active numismatic organisation in Great Britain called the Postal Order Society that was established in 1985 and which has members from both Great Britain and overseas. They hold twice-yearly postal auctions of Postal Orders and related material from across the British Commonwealth.


See also

Postal orders around the world

External links

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