TPO -> TPOs of Romania

TPOs of Romania

By Tony Goodbody


The definitive work on the subject is by C. Marinescu(1) in Romanian. An approximate translation of the title is: "Railway Travelling Post Offices in Romania 1869-1994." The implication is that TPOs were introduced in 1869, the year in which the Bucharest - Itzcani line was opened. Nevertheless postmarks are not known until 1875. At the other end of the scale, the date of 1994 is not necessarily the date on which TPOs ceased to operate. It is simply the year before the book was published.

TPOs before 1914

The earliest postmarks to be recorded were oval marks reading "POSTA AMBULANTA/ BUCURESCI - ITZCANI" and vice versa. Itzcani is sometimes spelled Jtzcani. Unfortunately no example of these scarce early marks is available for illustration.

In 1879, or thereabouts, double circle marks were introduced as shown below. There were 26 routes, all of which started or terminated in Bucharest. The TPOs were numbered I - XXVI in pairs. Odd numbers were assigned to the down routes from Bucharest and even numbers to the corresponding up routes. Postmarks from the up trains appear to be scarcer than those from the down trains.

BUCURESCI - VERCIROVA/ AMB. Number III/ 9 JUL '85. Note the spelling BUCURESCI.

The BUCURESTI - BURDUJENI postmark dated 1892 and shown below has the modern spelling Bucuresti and the route Number in arabic numerals.


The double circle marks were eventually replaced by elaborate linear marks which included the date and the name of the station of posting.

AMB. XII  G. Sinaia
TPO XII (Predeal - Bucuresti) posted at the station Gara Sinaia.

Similar postmarks with "TREN" in place of "AMB" were used by mailguards. In place of the route number we have the train number. Shown below is such a mark for train Number 366. Without a timetable current at the time it is not possibly to determine the route although the station of posting may well provide a clue.

TREN/ 366 G. Piatra N.
TREN/ 366 mailguard mark for 3rd. October 1896. Posted at Gara Piatra Neamt.

TPOs after 1919

Various types of cancellers were used between the wars but after World War II the postmarks appear to have been standardised as small double circles. Shown below is a single circle type with bridge in use in 1940.

Single circle TPO mark
JIMBOLIA - BUCURESTI / Route 4/ 22 NOV. 1940

Romania had greatly extended its border at the expense of Hungary. Thus Jimbolia was formerly in Hungary and called Zsombolya.

An attractive large double circle mark with bridge was in use in 1922 (see below).

Double circle TPO mark
SUBCETATE - CARANSEBES (Örváralja - Karánsebes) Number 286

Post World War II postmarks are small double circles with the initials V.P. (Vagon Postal) and the route number.

ODORHEIU - SIGHISOARA / V.P.222./ 27.5.62 TPO mark
ODORHEIU - SIGHISOARA (Segesvár - Székelyudvárhely) / V.P.222./ 27.5.62



(1) Marinescu, C. "Posta Ambulanta Feroviara în România, 1869-1994. Published in Bucharest, 1995. This is the definitive work on the subject. It is unfortunate that it is in Romanian.
(2) Vandervelde, V.D. "The Railway Posts of Roumania" TPO Vol. 31, Number 2 (Summer 1977).
This is the only work in English known to the author. It deals in detail with the 26 TPO routes up to 1914 and is essential for anyone wishing to study the subject in depth.

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