History: Wrongly addressed letters


Wrongly addressed letters

Until the end of the 70s, all incoming and outgoing correspondence of the Laboratory was read by the manager of the Laboratory. During WW II, the laboratory’s name was changed to “Physics Laboratory” (of the Dutch PTT).
At the end of the ’40s, the Laboratory became part of TNO’s Rijksverdedigingsorganisatie (Netherlands Defence Research Organisation TNO). The laboratory names led to, sometimes, hilarious errors in the written or typed addresses. Van Soest, as Managing Director of the Laboratory, collected the envelopes and put them into his archive. As most mistakes are specific to Dutch, some translations are shown to get you a flavour.

Het Meetgebouw [Measurement Building]

  • Neetgebouw [Nit Building]
  • Psychisch Meetgebouw [Psycho Measurement Building]

Laboratorium voor Physische Strijdmiddelen [Lab for Physical Armarment]

  • Lab. v. Psychische Schrijfmiddelen [Lab for Psycological Writing Materials]
  • Lab. voor Physica – Defensie [Lab for Physics – Defence]
One page from the archives
One page from the archives

Physisch Laboratorium [Physics Lab]

  • Psychnisch Laboratorium 
  • Phys. Lab. Bataafse Petroleum Mij. [= Shell]
  • Psychotechnisch Laboratorium [Psychotechnical lab]
  • Physiek Laboratorium Staatsbedrijf der PTT [Physical lab PTT]
  • Physisch Laboratorium der Techn.Hoogeschool [Lab of the Technical University]
  • Physisch Laboratorium “Waldorp” [Waldorp was a well-known instrument-making company]
  • Physiologisch Laboratorium [Physiological lab]
  • Visielabaratorium [Visionary lab]
  • Hoofd Psychisch Laboratorium [Head Psychic Lab]
  • Piecis Laboratorium [Fishes Lab]
  • Visie’s Laboratorium [Visions Lab]
  • Psychologisch Laboratorium [Psychological Lab]

Rijksverdedigingsorganisatie [Defence Research Organisation]

  • Physisch Laboratorium R.V.O.-T.N.O., Vlakte van Waalsdorp, ’s-Gravenhage, Belgium [next door neighbours]
  • Röntgen-Afdeling van het Physisch Lab. Rijksverdedigingszorg [National Defence Care]
  • Bozma, Ryks Verdedigingsorganisakie, T.N.O., Vlakee v Waalsdorf  [i.s.o. Boxma, Rijksverdedigingsorgansatie T.N.O., Vlakte van Waaldorp] 
  • Psijch.Inr.Laboratorium RVO-TNO [Phycological Hospital Laboratory]
  • Rijks Verzekering Organisatie {National Insurance Organisation]
  • Physisch Laboratorium Rijks Verdelgings Organisme [Physics Lab of the National Extermination Organism]
  • Rijksverdelingsorganisatie T N O [National Distribution Organisation T N O]
  • Rijksveredelingsorganisatie T.N.O. [National Breeding Organisation T.N.O.]


  • Den Heer Commandant van het Meetgebouw [Mister Commander ] 
  • Duitse bezetting Vises Laboratorium [German occupancy Fishes Lab]
  • Herr van Defensie Meetgebouwwaalsdorp [Mister of Defence Measurement Buildingwaalsdorp]
  • De Heer Chef Psichisch Laboratorium [Mister Chief Psycological Lab] 
  • Herrn Vlakte van Waalsdorp in Physikalisches Labor  [Mister Plains of Waalsdorp in Physics Laboratory]
  • Prof Soest. fissie lab: Wassenaar [Fish Lab]
  • Spoedig herstel van Personeel Sisgis Lab  [A fast recovery – Personnel of the Sisgie’s Lab]
  • Physich. Laboratorium “op de Vlakte”  [Physics Lab “Hold back a little”] 

Didn’t the lab address errors?

In July 1955, an official from a military office in The Hague called the Physics Lab exasperated. He does not know what to do with a Lab mailing which is completely misaddressed. The mail had been received several days earlier. “The addressee Technical Staff of the Army was disbanded years ago and Maj. X has been promoted to Colonel quite long ago”.
The lab: “Can you tell me if there is a receipt attached and, if so, what is the date?”
“Yes sure, a receipt is attached and dated … x!&%y!!@!! [sorry, not for publication]” .
The dispatch date turned out to be April 1950!

Source: Personnel magazine P.P.I., August 1955