Friday, July 1, 2011

U.S. Postage Stamp Day - July 1

Today is U.S. Postage Stamp Day. 
Did you know that before the introduction of stamps, it was the recipient of mail—not the sender—who generally paid the cost of postage, giving the fee directly to the postman on delivery. The task of collecting money for letter after letter greatly slowed the postman on his route. Moreover the addressee would not infrequently refuse a piece of mail, which then had to be taken back to the Post Office (post office budgets always allowed for an appreciable volume of unpaid-for mail). Only occasionally did a sender pay delivery costs in advance, an arrangement that usually required a personal visit to the Post Office. To be sure, postmasters allowed some citizens to run charge accounts for their delivered and prepaid mail, but bookeeping on these constituted another inefficiency.

Postage stamps revolutionized this process, leading to universal prepayment; but a precondition for their issue by a nation was the establishment of standardized rates for delivery throughout the country. If postal fees were to remain (as they were in many lands) a patchwork of many different jurisdictional rates, the use of stamps would produce only limited gains in efficiency, for postal clerks would still have to spend time calculating the rates on many letters: only then would senders know how much postage to put on them.

Have the kids design their own stamp today. Go to this link and print off as many as you like.


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