I have been doing some more exploring, and found a very interesting and informative 5 frame exhibit on "International avis de rĂ©ception (AR) in the British Empire & Commonwealth", by David Handelman, Ottawa.http://www.rfrajola.com/mercury/dh12.pdf
Found on Richard Frajola's web site - http://www.rfrajola.com/
I quote David Handelman's synopsis from his exhibit:
International avis de rĂ©ception (AR) in the British Empire & Commonwealth
Avis de rĂ©ception (abbreviated AR throughout) is the official UPU term for the postal service which provides a card or form signed by the recipient of a (registered) letter to be returned to the sender, as evidence of delivery. It goes under many names, for example, acknowledgment of receipt, advice of delivery, return receipt requested/demanded/desired/wanted . . . , RĂĽckschein.
Here, British Empire & Commonwealth means all British possessions, offices, dominions, occupied territories (at the time of their occupation), mandates, protectorates, and members of the Commonwealth.
This is a strictly postal history exhibit discussing international (as opposed to domestic â€” all items go from one country to a distinct one) AR service in the British Empire. AR material is generally very difficult to find in this group of countries (with the relative exception of India); seemingly AR service was highly unpopular with these postal administrations, so it is something of a challenge to find interesting material, even from the UK. We emphasize that this deals with international mail only â€” many countries had different treatment for domestic AR (for example, although UK switched to AR cards internationally, it persisted with domestic AR forms into the 1960s, and in addition, the AR fees were not always equal).
The evolution of AR and practises surrounding it are shown in this exhibit. Procedures concerning the forms to be signed and returned to sender (AR forms) changed twice (with the advent of the UPU Treaties of Vienna and Washington), and then the forms were (largely) replaced by AR cards, requiring different treatment. Many AR forms were to be returned under cover (rather than as folded letter sheets), requiring special AR covering envelopes, some official, some provisional. The registered envelopes that were sent with AR service (AR covers) reflect the change in procedures (for example, payment of the AR fee on the cover, form, or card â€” this varied both temporally and geographically). In addition, we show AR material that was mishandled by one (or more) post offices; often, incoming cards or forms were not signed or returned, even though the registered letter was delivered. Mistreated items appear throughout the exhibit.
Although AR had been around (under different names) since 1809 (Austria, Retour Recepisse), none of the countries here adopted it, until UK as a founding member of the UPU was required to offer it beginning in 1875. (Not mentioned in UK postal guides until 1891, there is a real paucity of AR material well into the twentieth century.) Canada began to offer it on April Foolâ€™s day 1879, which was the date of universalization of AR service â€” every jurisdiction that either was already a member or joined in the future was required to offer it from the time of joining.
Prior to 1 July 1892 (when the Treaty of Vienna became effective), the usual procedure concerning AR was as follows. A letter to be sent registered and with AR was taken to the post office, and the AR form was prepared, with the registration number, the address and the return address filled in. It would either be sent attached to the registered letter (which occurred in all known examples from the British Empire), or separately but in the same mailing. The AR fee would usually be paid in stamps on the form (although a few jurisdictions, such as India, required that the AR fee be paid on the registered letter). If delivery of the registered letter was successful, then the AR form would be signed by the recipient (failing that, the postal clerk), and the form would be returned â€” at no charge â€” to the sender. The form could either be sent as a folded letter sheet, or in a covering envelope, specially printed for this purpose. The form itself was returned as registered mail until sometime in the twentieth century, the actual date depending on individual postal jurisdiction.
There was no requirement to mark the registered letter with AR or anything similar, which means that without the form, it may be impossible to tell whether the registered cover was sent with AR (especially if the AR fee were paid on the form). There are in fact no known international AR covers mailed from anywhere in the British Empire in this period, but a number of forms exist, and several covering envelopes for the return of AR forms [abbreviated AR covering envelopes, or simply covering envelopes] are also known (and shown here), as are a few AR covers.
With the Treaty of Vienna (effective 1 July 1892â€“31 December 1898), two changes occurred. The first is that registered letters sent with AR must be so marked, either with AR (handwritten or stamped) or with avis de rĂ©ception. The second required the AR form to be prepared in the destination country; this forced payment of the AR fee on the cover (in the previous period, jurisdictions could decide on their own where the AR fee was to be applied). This meant that if you sent out a registered letter with AR (abbreviated, AR cover) and it was successfully delivered, you would expect to receive back an AR form printed and prepared by the destination country. An exception to this was Jamaica (and probably Barbados), which continued to use pre-Vienna procedures (attaching the stamped form) throughout the period.
This somewhat awkward procedure was reversed by the Treaty of Washington (effective 1 January 1899). Now AR forms were again prepared at the office of origin, and each jurisdiction could again decide whether to require payment of the AR fee in stamps on the form or on the cover. For the British Empire, there is an easy subdivision. For all British entities in the Indian subcontinent, some middle eastern occupied areas, and (based on just a few examples) eastern African colonies, the AR fee was paid on the AR cover; in addition, it was the case for New Zealand. Elsewhere in the Empire, the fee was paid on the form, later on the AR card. [There are no official references for this, but this is what I have observed.]
Late in 1921, most (but not all) jurisdictions introduced AR cards to replace AR forms; these are roughly the shape and thickness of postcards, and did not require a covering envelope; as with AR forms, they were sent free through the mail, any stamps on them paying the AR fee (with one obscure exception). Again, the AR fee could be paid on the AR cover, or on the AR card, with the same grouping of countries.
The goal is to show the variety of material possible and the various methods of enacting AR, and how these evolved in time.
There are some similarities among the AR forms of the countries involved, but not much; the same applies to the format of AR cards and covering envelopes. Since AR involves two directions, it is important to deal with incoming AR material as well.
In addition to this and the exhibit, there are various forms and cards to be found on delcampe and feebay. Search for various combinations of avis de reception, delivery advice, receipt advice, etc.
As well, I've noticed that at some time the AR cards changed (in the case of US ones) from being returned to the sender, to only being returned to the originating Post Office.