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The list: 5 protected USPS shipments

Men unload postal truck in 1937
Men unload boxes of gold bullion from a U.S. Mail truck at the railroad terminal in New York City in 1937. The boxes were moved four at a time on specially built skids. Each box weighed more than 500 pounds and held gold bars valued at $250,000.

The Postal Inspection Service has helped protect some of the most famous shipments in history. “The list” looks at five notable examples.

1. Gold. In 1937 and from 1940-1941, $14 billion in gold bullion was shipped from New York and Philadelphia to Fort Knox, KY, using an elaborate system of decoy trains, armed inspectors, steel doors and machine guns.

2. Presidential mail. During the mid-20th century, inspectors oversaw the dispatch, delivery and protection of White House mail using a specially assigned bag. Inspectors also assisted investigations involving threatening letters.

3. The Hope Diamond. In 1958, on the night before it was delivered to the National Museum of Natural History, an inspector protected the famous gem, which was secured in a registered mail cage at the Washington, DC, Post Office.

4. The Lesotho Diamond. When this 601-carat jewel arrived from Switzerland in 1967 amid rumors the mob planned to steal it, three armed inspectors escorted the diamond from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to the city’s Post Office.

5. “CON-CON” boxes. Every year, millions of dollars in bonds, jewelry and money orders move in special “concentration and convoy” containers under inspector-secured conditions between shippers, USPS and recipients.

The National Postal Museum’s site has more information about these shipments. Got ideas for future editions of “The list”? Email them to

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