U. S. Parcel Post Stamp on Cover

postal history item showing use of the Parcel Post stamp of the U.S.

The United States set up the Parcel Post system in 1913, and issued special stamps for this new parcel mail. On July 1, 1913, these stamps became legal to use on first class letters, as well as for any postal payment. I've noticed that, by 1914, first class usages seem to be fewer. After 1914, Parcel Post usages are quite uncommon.

I like these stamps a great deal. They are among the first U. S. stamps to be engraved from photographic images of real situations, not just portraits of famous people. The images are very pictorial. For instance, the 20 cent stamp from this set is the first stamp issued in the world to depict an airplane.

For more information on these stamps and the service, take a look at an excellent website with Parcel Post stamp images.

View my Google photos album of Parcel Post stamp images.

Also, the late Henry Gobie wrote an excellent book on the history of the service and these stamps, published in 1979. Amazon offers information on purchasing a copy of the book (it is many years out of print). You may also want to check for copies on eBay.

CLICK ON THE THUMBNAIL IMAGES TO VIEW A LARGER IMAGE

Parcel Post Stamp Used in First World War Era -- This cover is very interesting to me, because my primary collecting interest these days is First World War postal history.

Parcel Post stamps were legal to use on first class letters, starting July 1, 1913. I've noticed that, by 1914, first class usages seem to be fewer. After 1914, Parcel Post usages are quite uncommon. That makes this 1917 usage uncommon indeed.

What may have caused this 'old' stamp to be used is that the first class letter rate was raised in early November, 1917, by one cent as a tax to pay for the United States' involvement in the First World War. Many people had to scramble to make up the rate, and there was a shortage of 3 cent stamps for a while.

Soldiers in the large Army camps in the US had a more difficult time, since they had little money, and needed to write to their families and sweethearts. I believe that the postal drawers were combed for applicable postage, and this activity has revealed an interesting variety of "old" stamp usages that show up from time to time in the US camp postal history that I collect.

This cover is cancelled by the Universal machine of the Custer Branch of Battle Creek, Michigan. Camp Custer was one of the large Army training camps open during WW I. It is dated November 25, 1917, about 3 weeks after the new postal rate went into effect.

First Class Usage to France -- This cover shows a five-cent parcel post stamp used to mail a letter to a foreign-destination (to Paris, France). Note that it is dated in September 1913, including the Paris receiving marking. (The 5-cent stamp has a great image of a steam locomotive.)

Parcel Post Stamp Used as Intended -- This cover is an example of the correct usage of the Parcel Post issue during the first 6 months of 1913. The cover was cancelled by a Cummins/Time-Marking machine in Chicago, Illinois, in May of 1913, and most likely contained a product sample from the Goodman Rainproof Coat Company of Chicago, Illinois. Note the nicely-illustrated advertising cornercard on this cover.

Note that the day slug was not used in the cancelling machine. Parcel post items usually did not receive any dated cancellation at all, so this item is uncommon.

On July 1, 1913, the stamps became acceptable for any postal service, so you more often see them used for first class letters and cards from that date onward.

Parcel Post Stamp Unsealed Usage -- This cover is an example of the correct usage of the Parcel Post issue. Unfortunately, the date of use is not known. Either this is a correct usage in the first 6 months of 1913 to send out a product sample by parcel post, or it may be a 3rd class usage to send out a printed circular. The latter may be more likely, since the envelope flap is unsealed.

This is an advertising cover, showing the logo and name of the Ammonol Chemical Company of New York City.

On July 1, 1913, the stamps became acceptable for any postal service, so you more often see them used for first class letters and cards from that date onward.

Correct Usage for a Parcel Post Stamp -- This cover is an example of the correct usage of the Parcel Post issue. I believe that this cover was used to mail a product sample during the appropriate period in early 1913. My belief that this is true is based on the fact that this cover's imprint mentions "this sample", and the cover is backstamped February 9, 1913 (see additional image). The cover was mailed by J. M. Hansell's Sons, Philadelphia, a printing company that manufactured envelopes, among other paper items.


'Merchandise' Usage of Parcel Post Stamp -- This cover is an example of the correct usage of the Parcel Post issue. The cover is marked "merchandise" and, while difficult to read, the handstamp appears to be dated January 10, 1913. The cover was mailed by the H. Fischer company of New York City, a dental supply company.

Early First Class Usage of Parcel Post Stamp -- This item shows a single usage of the 2-cent Parcel Post issue on cover. Scott assigns the catalog number Q2 to this stamp.

Most on-cover examples of these stamps seen at dealers' tables or in auctions, date from the period on and after July 1, 1913, when the stamps became legal for use on all classes of mail. This example shows an early use as first class, specifically July 3, 1913.

While covers used during the early period are desirable, finding Parcel Post stamps on actual parcel wrappers or tags can be an expensive challenge for the collector of these issues. Examples such as this post-July 1, 1913 are more common, but it is still difficult to find items so close to the first legal date of use.

Dollar Parcel Post Stamp on Parcel Tag -- I had to search the internet for this image. First of all, finding a one dollar Parcel Post stamp is a major undertaking. In addition, this example is on a parcel tag. I have several parcel tags, as well as images of such, but none of the tags or images I have, actually use Parcel Post stamps.

Parcel Post Stamp As It MIGHT Have Been -- It is unfortunate that the entire Parcel Post stamp issue was printed in the same carmine color, but apparently the Post Office wanted the stamps to be distinct. In the end, postal clerks made a lot of errors of value, since the stamps from one cent to one dollar appeared in the same color.

I would love to have seen this issue printed in two colors, as probably planned by the stamp designer. Something similar was planned for the Trans-Mississippi Exhibition issue of 1898. I think that results could have been quite spectacular.

This image is a home-made version of what a carmine and black bi-color might have looked like. It is NOT a real stamp!

Parcel Post Stamp on Overall Ad Cover for Put-in-Bay, Ohio -- This cover has multiple interests: (1) It pays first class postage with a Parcel Post stamp, used in August 1913, (2) The stamp is cancelled by a Columbia slogan cancel associated with Put-in-Bay, and (3) the cover is an overall printed advertisement for a resort on South Bass Island, Put-in-Bay, Ohio

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Updated 7/25/20, 2:34 PM