Arago: Exhibits

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Packaging the Mail

Parcel Post Service Inauguration commemorative trophy cup

Packaging the Mail

The U.S. postal system reacted to changing public needs by adding a number of new services over the next two hundred years. Changes included the addition of stamps, establishment of rate structures, and home and special delivery services. One significant change was the addition of Parcel Post Service in 1913.

The new service had a dramatic impact on what could be sent through the U.S. mail. Prior to Parcel Post, packages weighing over four pounds had to go by private express. Many express companies charged high, often erratic prices. Parcel Post service provided customers with comparatively low and standardized national prices.

This silver cup was mailed by Postmaster General Frank H. Hitchcock from Washington, D.C., to New York City Postmaster Edward M. Morgan. Hitchcock mailed the cup at 12:01 a.m. on January 1, 1913, one minute into the first day of Parcel Post service.

Shippers and the general public sent almost 300 million parcels through the mails during the first six months of the service.