Ai Li-shan


Every once in a while a cover comes along that has everything going for it.  In this case it is a Taiwan local cover mailed February 13, 1959.  Until I began to research this cover, I was unaware of "Legal Attest" type of covers.  Basically, they are for the transmission of important documents, with verification of the contents.  In addition, both the sender and the post office retain a "certified" copy of the original mailed document.  The applicable postal regulations are as follows.


Section 9, Legal Attest Letters (Postal Regulations,  10th English Edition - 1978), published by the Ministry of Communications, Directorate General of Posts.


Article 380.  When senders deposit identical copies of registered, registered express, registered prompt delivery or value-declared letters with the Post Office at the time of posting in order to serve as legal evidences, each letters are called legal attest letters.


Article 381.  Legal attest letters should fulfill the following requirements; otherwise, they will be refused acceptance:

            (1)  Written in the Chinese language and if necessary, punctuation marks, symbols or     Arabic figures may be added.

            (2)  Written with Chinese brush, pen and ink or with indelible pencils, or prepared by     means of typewriter or duplicating process or with ball pen and two-sided carbon         paper, being clear and legible.

            (3)  The names and addresses of the sender and addressee given in the letter should       agree with those appearing on the cover.

            (4)  Containing no enclosures other than those connected with the legal attest letter in     question, and nothing other than documents.


Article 382.  Legal attest letters are admitted only at Post Offices operating with such service;  they may, however, be destined for all domestic deliverable addresses.


Article 383.  Each legal attest letter should be prepared by the sender with one original copy and two duplicates, each bearing his signature and seal.


            Having checked the wording of each copy and found them identical, the Post Office annotates each copy with the expression "Checked correct," the date, and serial number allotted in addition to the impression of a postmark (date-stamp) which is also applied on the joints between the original copy and duplicates.  The original copy is to be placed immediately into the envelope provided by sender and posted as a special treatment letter accompanied with and an advice of delivery.  The first duplicate is handed back to the sender and the second duplicate is kept by the Post Office as evidence.


            In case the copies are found not to be identical to each other in wording, they will be returned to the sender for recopying or correcting.


            If the sender does not intend to keep a copy for himself, only one duplicate needs to be prepared.


Article 384.  The duplicates of a legal attest letter should bear the name and address of the sender as well as of the addressee.  When two or more legal attest letters of exactly the same wording intended for different addressees and address are posted simultaneously, the sender needs to prepare only two general duplicates accompanied with a list showing the various names and addresses to be handed over to the Post Office.


            If the sender does not intend to keep a copy for himself, only one general duplicate needs to be prepared.


Article 385.  In the case of alterations or amendments made in the text of a legal attest letter

in the original copy and duplicates, an annotation should appear at the end of the original copy and the duplicates, or on a separate slip to be attached thereto, which reads: "….characters hence have been altered, added or deleted after the …the character , line….page…." and be certified by an impression of the sender's seal.  Under no circumstances, however, should such alteration, addition or deletion affect more than twenty characters on one page.


Article 386.  Legal attest letters are subject to an attest fee in addition to the ordinary postage, special treatment fee and advice of delivery fee.  The attest fee is denoted by postage stamps affixed to the duplicate kept by the Post Office and canceled by a postmark.


            The rate of attest fee is subject to the adjustments by the Directorate General of Posts when necessary.


Article 387.  In the case of two or more legal attest letters of exactly the same text being posted at the same time, the first one is charged the full amount of the attest fee, while each of the remaining ones charged half the amount.


Article 388.  The Post Office keeps the duplicate of a legal attest letter for a period of three years from the date of posting, and destroys it at the expiration of the period.


Article 389.  During the above mentioned period of preservation, the sender of a legal attest letter may, on producing the receipt issued at the time of posting and by filling in an application form, request the Post Office to show him the duplicate or may prepare another duplicate for the Post Office to certify.  In the case of loss of the receipt issued at the time of posts, the applicant should provide a shop guarantee or provide evidence to prove his identity.


            The applicant is charged a showing fee or certifying fee for showing the duplicate kept by the Post Office or for certifying a new duplicate.  Said fees are equal to half the amount of the current attest fee and is denoted by postage stamps affixed to the application form and canceled by a postmark.


            When the text of the newly made duplicate does not agree exactly to the duplicate kept by the Post Office, the Post Office may refuse certifying, but the certifying fee is not refundable.


Article 390.  When a legal attest letter is lost before delivery to the addressee not through the fault of the sender, the letter may, on producing the original receipt, present a new copy to be attested and sent by the Post Office free of charge.


Article 391.  An undeliverable  legal attest letter which is readdressed and reposted by the sender after being returned to him is dealt with as a new legal attest letter and all fees and postage to be paid again.


Article 392.  When the sender applies for the withdrawal of a legal attest letter, the duplicate kept by the Post Office may also be withdrawn.  This however does not apply to the general duplicate referred to in Article 384, when only part of the letters is withdrawn.


Article 393.  The provisions for special treatment of mail matter are also applicable to legal attest letters in addition to the provisions of this Section.








Double border box - Prompt delivery








Return to originating

office,.  Checked by

(Postman chop 204)






Script - Moved - new address unknown.  Postman chop - 233







Taipei Post office

Attested letter, number 421






Double registered



Declared value



Attested letter




Double registered



















Name chop of mailer


                                                              Front of cover










Keelung cancel, 1959.2.14, returned from Taipei


Mailed at main post office in Taipei,


Postage paid:  4.80 NT$


            Postage                  .40

            Registered fee      1.20

            AR(receipt) fee    1.20

            Prompt Delivery   2.00


The attest fee is paid by stamps and cancelled on the application form. (see article 389 of the regulations.


The prompt delivery fee was 1.00 up to 10g, then 2.00 up to 100 grams. 


 AR (Acknowledge Receipt form)



Post Office supplied seal, tied with the personal chop of the sender.  One on top, middle and bottom of the cover.














Back of the AR card, with the mailing post office cancel of 1959.2.13



Return to sender, Taipei Branch 18



1, This address no such person

2. Moved - new address unknown

3. Written address not clear

4. School or business closed

5. No such address

6. Written address not detailed.

7.  (reason in script)


Note that: Moved new address unknown is checked.


Checked by - 204


Reasons for return





Checked by



This particular cover is intact as returned, unopened.  It evidently contained legal papers of some sort, without a value other than to the mailer.  I suspect the legal attest covers are rather scarce.  I am unfamiliar with similar covers before 1950, but they may very well exist.