Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Two-Cent Letter

Some of you will remember the two-cent letter; others may not want to reveal their age that way. No problem; you don’t have to reply to this blog if you prefer privacy.

Once ‘pon a time there was the penny postcard (legally, first-class mail) and the three-cent stamped envelope (also first-class mail). The cards were nicknamed “the postman’s privilege” because the mailman could read them as he walked his route. They were short letters to friends, “wish you were here” from vacationers.

Second-class mail went for two cents and the envelope was folded inside, not sealed. It was second class in every respect: handled after the first class stuff was set up and, presumably, fair game for any nosy post office personnel who had nothing better to do than snoop in your mail when nobody was around.

Ben Franklin had his mug on the half-sent stamp. Haven’t seen one of them in ages, maybe several ages, nor can I do anything but wonder why we had those at all. I do remember they were orange and I had a few for some reason. Of course, that was back in the day when a half-cent was worth a half-cent.

When we lived way far from the ocean (four miles, a far piece than later, at one block), the mailman came twice a day. It seems there was more correspondence back then, of whatever sort, or fewer vehicles to leave the second half of a route in the olive-drab “relay boxes” along the route where the rest of his mail would be left.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

One half-cent stamp sir? Here you go. Wait (a very long time) for your change.

November 25, 2009 11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Up here we are VERY taxed. Now back in the day a postage stamp was a tax, still is but not recognized as such. Our politicians have levied both a Provincial and Federal sales tax on postage stamps, a tax equally to ~13%.

Exit 318

November 28, 2009 9:50 AM  

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