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Post Offices of Europe 18th – 21st Century

A Comparative History


Muriel Le Roux and Sébastien Richez

The cursus publicus, established by the Roman Empire to connect all its conquered territories, may be considered to be the ancestor of all modern post offices. Therefore, mail service networks are part of an organization, dating from Antiquity, which is common to the entire European community.
From the 18th century onwards, the French mail service network may be divided into three successive phases. First, the consolidation of the transportation system that was being set up. Second, the development of the system’s ability to deal with increasing traffic (through broader human resources). Thirdly, the diversification of its operations and the development of its technical modernisation.
What was the situation in other European countries? Are there similarities and differences in how their networks were set up and organized? Finally, how did European Post Offices cooperate with each other in spite of their differences?
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Postal Savings Banks in Europe before 1945.A Lost Opportunity for Cooperation: Benoit Oger


Benoit OGER

Before 1945 a majority of European countries appealed to their postal administration to establish savings banks as part of their service. The creation of the Caisses d’épargne postales (CEPs) or postal savings banks responded to the concerns or specific needs of each country. Belgium and Hungary followed England’s lead in order to amortize the public debt; for Italy they provided a financial aperture in regions lacking banking services. It would be interesting to compare political, financial, economic, and even institutional conditions in each European country where postal saving banks were created. We would want to look first of all at the appearance of postal administrations in the financial sector, before taking a closer look at the early cooperation between France and Belgium, and France and Italy, respectively. Finally we would look for reasons that explain why the cooperation that had expanded to include all postal savings banks in Europe failed before 1945.

In the first half of the 19th century, ordinary savings banks (Caisses d’épargne ordinaire or CEOs) were provided in most European countries.1 Considering the record of these banks developed in 17 countries over a period of 34 years, we can safely say that their creation had become almost contagious during that period. Very much alike and similar at the outset, the European savings banks will late become “extremely different from each other, less a factor of individual policy than due to the influence of the local administrations’ financial system into...

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