The U.S. Postal Inspection Service

Cigar-box Bombs

In 1936 Thomas Maloney of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and his son were killed after opening a mail bomb that had been placed in a cigar box. Postal inspectors used a mocked-up version of the device to alert local postmasters to be on guard for similar packages, and to train new inspectors on the characteristics of mail bombs. Inspectors traced the remnants of the bomb’s address to a local man, Michael Fuggman. Inspectors determined that the bombings resulted from local union disputes concerning protest activities over conditions at an anthracite mine.

a cigar-box bomb mock-up

Postal inspectors added a glass top to the mock-up of the cigar-box bomb for easier viewing of the contents.

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The Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, postmaster sent this telegram to request an inspector be dispatched to investigate the bombing.

Click to learn more about the postal inspectors’ investigation and conviction of the bomber in a two and a half minute film: Mysteries of the Museum (The Travel Channel)