David Aber finds phenomenal mailboxes. Even by his usual standard, this one (a castle on top of a dragon?!) seemed too good to be handmade (which is one of the criteria for showing a box here). I'm sure there was no hint of that commercialization; if there were, he wouldn't have sent the photo. Still, I wondered: Was this mailbox really handmade?
You may not be aware of the online search services that will find similar images. For instance, you can go to one of those services, upload a photo of the mailbox in someone's front yard, and see whether the service (for example, Google Images) finds a photo of a similar mailbox somewhere else in the world. That kind of capability is used for businesses to find you, via one of their “security” cameras, in an aisle, shopping for some item, and add to your customer profile that you’re (for example) interested in baby toys.
I decided to try searching for this amazing mailbox: Is there a photo of a similar mailbox somewhere online? If I didn't find a similar photo, that doesn't mean the mailbox wasn't mass-produced, but it cuts the chances. Because the vegetation, concrete, rocks, and house number probably won't be in other photos of the same mass-produced mailbox, I used my favorite free photo editor, GIMP, to remove all of those things from the photo Dave sent. This photo is what I sent to Google, Bing, and a couple of other image-search sites. (I used the “Intelligent Scissors” tool to remove the background and the Clone Stamp tool to replace the house number with the white areas of the sign.)
I didn't find a mailbox like this anywhere else. Even if it is mass-produced, it's pretty incredible, isn't it?
Thanks, Dave, for the fun and for the puzzle.