Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Prohibited items

The United States Postal Service lists the following items as being prohibited from sending to Italy:

Albums of any kind (of photographs, postcards, postage stamps, etc.).
Arms and weapons.
Articles of platinum or gold; jewelry; and other valuable articles unless sent as insured Priority Mail International parcels.
Artificial flowers and fruits and accessories for them.
Bells and other musical instruments and parts thereof.
Cartridge caps; cartridges.
Clocks and supplies for clocks.
Compound medicaments and medicines.
Coral mounted in any way.
Ether and chloroform.
Exposed photographic and cinematographic films.
Footwear of any kind.
Haberdashery and sewn articles of any kind, including trimmings and lace; handkerchiefs; scarves; shawls, needlework including stockings and gloves; bonnets, caps, and hats of any kind.
Hair and articles made of hair.
Human remains.
Leather goods.
Lighters and their parts, including lighter flints.
Live bees, leeches, and silkworms.
Live plants and animals.
Nutmeg, vanilla; sea salt, rock salt; saffron.
Parasites and predators of harmful insects.
Perfumery goods of all kinds (except soap).
Playing cards of any kind.
Postage stamps in sealed or unsealed First-Class Mail International shipments.
Radioactive materials.
Ribbons for typewriters.
Roasted or ground coffee and its substitutes; roasted chicory.
Saccharine and all products containing saccharine.
Salted, smoked or otherwise prepared meats; fats; and lard.
Toys not made wholly of wood.
Treated skins and furs.
Weapons of any kind and spare parts for them.

At first glance, it's an odd and amusing list (and has been seen as such already). It certainly wasn't composed all at one time; note the separately listed, redundant items "Arms and weapons" and "Weapons of any kind." In 2008, we're used to all sorts of restrictions on dangerous materials such as weapons, lighters, radioactive materials, and the like. Postal reluctance to handle live bees is understandable. But "Bells and other musical instruments and parts thereof"? "Footwear of any kind"? "Roasted or ground coffee and its substitutes; roasted chicory"? These may be holdovers from the import restrictions imposed by the Fascist government in the late 1920s and early 30s to protect prices of Italian-made goods. But really -- "Artificial flowers and fruits and accessories for them"?

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