Friday, August 24, 2012

How the Parcel Post Revolutionized Retailing

In 1913, President William Howard Taft and Congress approved the parcel post. It allowed the Post Office to begin delivering a variety of items to customers in rural America and revolutionized retailing in the United States.

Reporter Marc Levinson writes on,"Back before the parcel post, the U.S. Post Office had only a marginal role in moving goods. By law, it could deliver only packages of 4 pounds or less. All shipments, no matter the distance, cost a steep 1 cent per ounce; mailing a 4-pound package cost three hours’ pay for the average worker."

Levinson goes on to say, "The parcel post did even more than its most ardent advocates anticipated. During the first six months of 1913, the Post Office carried an astonishing 300 million parcels, 15 for every U.S. household. A fifth of the population, the 20 million people living outside of express companies’ service territories, could for the first time easily send and receive packages. And thanks to the government’s new role in handling packages, Americans everywhere, from big coastal cities to remote mountain ranches, could at last experience the joys of shopping by mail at far lower prices than they could find close to home."

According the Coney Stamps website," In 1912, stamps were introduced to pre-pay postage on parcels. Parcel post Stamps were issued in twelve denominations, and had the same look, format and color. So much so that postal workers had trouble telling the difference between the 1¢ and $1 stamps. In 1913, parcel post charges could be paid for with any stamp, and parcel post stamps became obsolete."

Shown above, parcel post stamp showing a mail carrier delivering packages.

To read the entire article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM