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Official Parcel Post map

1913

Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

Parcel Post service turned 100 years old in 2013. Before 1913, if you wanted to mail a parcel weighing more than four pounds, you had to use a private express company. Americans tired of high and unpredictable express company rates demanded a public parcels service. After decades of debate, the service was finally instituted on New Year’s Day in 1913.

Standard and easily understood rates were a key to the establishment of the service, as well as to its potential success. To that end the Post Office Department created a series of parcel post maps. The Department divided the nation into a series of more than 5700 numbered 30-mile square grids, scattered across eight zones. A zone map showing each post office’s location at the center of the zones was mailed to each postmaster.

This map, showing Washington, D.C. as the center part of the zones, was used to explain the service to the American public. Photographs of this map were provided to newspapers across the country. Many editors ran the image in stories announcing and explaining the service. This map was signed by Postmaster General Hitchcock.

Museum ID: 2010.2004.27

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