1st March 1875: the Vienna pneumatic post system starts

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In 1872 a limited company applied for a concession for the establishment of "a pneumatic postal system". The negotiations extended for so long that the financial crash after the Viennese World Fair of 1873 seemed likely to endanger the project. Money was however found, and in January 1874 the k.k. Department of Commerce formally agreed to the establishment of a City Pneumatic Postal Service in Vienna. The Viennese Pneumatic Post was opened to the public on the 1st March 1875, having cost 364,700 gulden (equivalent to £30,418 then: almost £3 million at 2014 prices) including all the machines, apparatus, pneumatic receivers and the land at Gumpendorf for a second machine house.

The public were informed of this new development by an Announcement in the Wiener Zeitung of 27 February 1875, repeated the following day in different formatting on a different page. The text is exactly the same as that of the Ordinance discussed next; but in smaller print so won't be repeated here.

The "Ordinances for the Austrian Telegraph Offices No. 3 of 19th March 1875" announced the "starting of the pneumatic pipe system and introduction of pneumatic letters in Vienna with effect from 1st March of this year". Actually, the system had been commissioned on the 15th February (see "Die Postmarke" 31.5.1935 pp 130-131) but used only for telegrams as a proving trial. Post and Telegraphy were at that time under separate administration [Post took over Telegraphy in 1883], and the reason for assigning the new service to the telegraph is clear from the announcement: the new service was primarily for the expedition of telegrams or Depesche [Depesche is from the French "dépèche" meaning official or urgent news: there is an old Austrian verb "depeschieren" meaning "to telegraph"], for which the telegraph service had long looked for a fast means of transport. To use the new system to capacity, it would also accept written communications "for which the sender and addressee are found within the Linienwälle of Vienna" - ie, for those districts within today’s "Gürtel". A description of the Telegram and Telegraph System is here.

Pneumatic pipes joined the following offices with each other. These addresses and numbers are those listed in the Decree. The actual numbers found on letters & cards are different, as is explained later.

 1. k.k. Telegraph Central Station, Börseplatz No 1;

 2. Laurenz Building, in the old Fleischmarkt [Today's No 19 Fleischmarkt. Note that the type of the office is not stated];

 3. k.k. Post Office Leopoldstadt, Taborstrasse No 27;

 4. k.k. Post Office Landstraße, Haupstrasse No 65;

 5. k.k. Telegraph Office Kärntnerring No 3;

 6. k.k. Post Office Wieden, Neumanngasse No 3;

 7. k.k. pneumatic station Gumpendorf, Magdalenengasse No 67;

 8. k.k. Post Office Neubau, Siebensterngasse No 13;

 9. k.k. Post office Josephstadt, Mariatreugasse No 4; and

10. k.k. pneumatic station in the provisional** Börse (Exchange), at Schottenring. **[ie, temporary; see here on where the Stock and Produce Exchanges were at various dates. Note that it does NOT say "in the Stock Exchange" as is commonly alleged]

Three of the pneumatic offices - Börse, Leopoldstadt, and Landstrasse - were connected through radial pipes, while the others were connected in a circle. There were air and vacuum pumps in the Central Telegraph Office and in Gumpendorf, driven by steam-engines. Between the individual stations there was only one pipe, so a carefully-worked out schedule was required [See "Post- usw Dienst im Lokalpost-Rayon von Wien: Feb 1892" and Timetabling; and note that the system required manual examination and transfer of every mail-container at every intermediate station]. The pneumatic offices dealt predominantly with:

Confirmation of acceptance of telegrams by "Aufgabs-Recepisse" had been introduced in 1873. They were normally cancelled by the Telegraph Office oval canceller. The description of the Telegram and Telegraph System includes these receipts. They were theoretically available for items of pneumatic mail, but no copy has ever been seen.

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