USPS Seeks Higher Shipping Prices

[press release]
Postal Service Announces 2017 Shipping Prices
Pricing Unchanged for Priority Mail International, First-Class Package International and Priority Mail Express International Service

usps_boxesWASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service today filed notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) of price changes for Shipping Services products to take effect next year, following the end of the holiday mailing season. The filing does not include any price increase for First-Class Package International Service, Priority Mail Express International and Priority Mail International.

The Postal Service continues to provide excellent value and reliability for the shipping industry, along with convenient choices for consumers. The average Shipping Services price change is 3.9 percent, which results in an average shipping price of less than $5 per shipment across all shipping products.

The new prices, if approved, represent a modest price increase in Priority Mail by 3.9 percent and an average of 3.3 percent in Priority Mail Retail prices.

The Priority Mail Flat Rate Box and Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope prices for these products are:

Current New
Small flat-rate box $6.80 $7.15
Medium flat-rate box 13.45 13.60
Large flat-rate box 18.75 18.85
Large APO/FPO flat-rate box 16.75 17.35
Regular flat-rate envelope 6.45 6.65
Legal flat-rate envelope 6.45 6.95
Padded flat-rate envelope 6.80 7.20

The PRC will review the prices before they are scheduled to take effect Jan. 22, 2017. The complete Postal Service price filing with the new prices for all Shipping Services products can be found on the PRC site under the Daily Listings section:

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

USPS Adds Digital Philatelic Products

[press release]
U.S. Postal Service to Announce Innovative New Stamp Products at World Stamp Show-NY 2016

USPS StampApp, eGuide to U.S. Stamps, Souvenir Portfolio and Water Soluble Forever Stamps to be Featured

NEW YORK CITY — The U.S. Postal Service will announce several new and innovative stamp products during the World Stamp Show-NY 2016, which begins Saturday, May 28 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. The new products include The World Stamp Show Souvenir Portfolio, a book with a number of impressive digital and tactile features; the 2015 eGuide to U.S. Stamps, a digital version of the Postal Service Guide to U.S. Stamps, 42nd Edition; the USPS StampApp, the only official U.S. stamp collecting app; and new Forever stamps that are water soluble.

s_classicsThe water soluble feature is available on the Classics Forever stamps, which will be issued during the show on Wednesday, June 1. The pressure-sensitive adhesive on the stamps make them water soluble, enabling philatelists to remove these special stamps from envelopes after they have been used by soaking them in plain water. This is the first time this feature has been included on a Forever stamp.

“Stamps have a way of connecting the world, and now it’s happening digitally,” said Postal Service Chief Marketing and Sales Officer Jim Cochrane. “Leveraging digital technology is incredibly important to the future of stamp collecting, and increasingly, you will find new technologies embedded within stamps that will have the potential to bridge the physical and digital.”

USPS StampApp
stampappThe USPS StampApp is the only official U.S. collecting app and the only collectibles app that includes an entire reference library along with user-generated content for philatelists to upload their own stamp collection. Designed for collectors and stamp enthusiasts of all ages, StampApp affords users beautiful, high-resolution imagery of the U.S. stamp archive, with details and production specifications that are important to collectors. Users can manage their personal collections on StampApp, knowing that everything is securely and permanently stored in the Cloud, where it is always accessible on all of their devices.

  • Browse the entire USPS stamp archive, from the Postmaster’s Provisionals of 1845 to the 2016 first quarter issues.
  • Inventory, valuate and manage your own collections, with extensive fields for condition, purchase price, specifications, current values and the like.
  • Personalize your viewing content by selecting stamp information and data fields of choice.
  • Create “Wish Lists” by browsing the USPS archive and selecting desired stamps.
  • Share your wish lists with others via email or social media.
  • Export your entire personal collection to XML, Excel or Plain Text format.
  • Stamp and collecting data sync automatically among all your devices.
  • Upload images to StampApp from your personal collection.

The USPS StampApp will be available on, Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

2015 eGuide to U.S. Stamps
e-guideThe Postal Service crosses philately’s digital divide with the brand new 2015 Postal Service eGuide to U.S Stamps.

The U.S. Postal Service takes the lead in digital stamp display with a first-of-its-kind eBook of stamps. Like its print-book brother, the eGuide to U.S. Stamps encompasses more than 7,000 U.S. stamps from 1845 to the present. This is the only official compilation of U.S. postage stamps issued by the Postal Service. Extensive content includes detailed listings for each stamp with color illustrations, dates of issue, quantities issued, and separate listings for design variations. Multiple categories are covered — definitive, commemorative, airmail, duck stamps, stamped envelopes, and more — all organized into easily accessible indexes with an updated Stamp Series section that lists all stamps issued per series.

The benefits of the eGuide to US Stamps include:

  • Immediately downloadable and always available, requiring no internet connection once downloaded
  • Pinch and zoom for close-up and full page viewing
  • Responsive and accurate full-text search capability
  • Links to external-referenced resources and internal links via comprehensive indexes
  • Customizable fontpreferences and sizes
  • Perfectly portable – tuck the entire U.S. stamp archive into your pocket or purse

The Postal Service eGuide to U.S. Stamps will be available for reading on Kindle, Apple and Android tablets and phones, and can be purchased online at over 1,000 eBook retailers including the Apple Store, Google Play, Amazon, and

[In a discussion I had with one of the developers of the eGuide, this is a real e-book, not just a .pdf file saved in Kindle and Nook formats. We’ll have more on these two digital products in the near future. —Lloyd de Vries]

The World Stamp Show Souvenir Portfolio
folioThe World Stamp Show Souvenir Portfolio is a coffee-table book that features information about each of the eight stamps to be released during the Show. The design elements in this book include lenticular, textured and even Augmented Reality sprinkled throughout the pages. It also includes sleeves for inserting the stamp panes being issued during the week of the show, which must be purchased separately. The August 2015 World Stamp Show-NY 2016 stamp pane is included. The Portfolio can be purchased at World Stamp Show-NY 2016.

Learn more about the innovative new stamp products along with many other digital features at the U.S. Postal Service’s exhibit booth at the World Stamp Show-NY 2016, which continues through June 4. The United States plays host to this sanctioned international stamp show only once every 10 years.

On June 2, during the show, United States Postmaster General and CEO Megan J. Brennan will dedicate a pane of 16 stamps featuring America’s National Park Services in celebration of their centennial year. This event will be webcast and coincides with special dedication ceremonies across the nation that day. Also throughout the week, the U.S. Postal Service will dedicate seven other commemorative postage stamps on site.

These products and many of this year’s other stamps may be seen on Facebook via Twitter@USPSstamps oron the website, the Postal Service’s online site for information on upcoming stamp subjects, first-day-of-issue events and other philatelic news.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

Canada Post, MoneyGram Aid Wildfire Victims

[press release]
MoneyGram Waives Fees for Donations to American Red Cross for Wildfire Relief Efforts in Canada
Company also working with Canada Post and Canadian Government to provide financial aid to victims

moneygramMoneyGram (NASDAQ: MGI) announced it has initiated support initiatives to help those impacted by the massive wildfires in Canada. From now through the end of June, MoneyGram is waiving fees for those who want to donate to the American Red Cross to support wildfire relief efforts.

MoneyGram and Canada Post are also working together to distribute $1.6 million in relief funds being granted by the Canadian Government. More than 1700 MoneyGram issued money transfer checks will be available for pick-up at Canada Post locations.

“Our hearts go out to those impacted by these terrible fires,” said Pete Ohser, executive vice president, Americas and Europe. “With the help of the Red Cross and Canada Post, we are focused on ensuring financial assistance gets to those who need it most during this crucial time. I’d also like to say ‘thank you’ to each and every first responder who continues to fight these fires by putting themselves in harm’s way; their courage and determination are inspiring.”

In response to a request for assistance from the Canadian Red Cross, the American Red Cross has deployed 50 disaster response specialists who are working in several functional areas, including case management, information management, shelter management, mapping and psychosocial support.

Donations to the Red Cross can be made at or any MoneyGram agent location in the U.S. All donations should be submitted to the American Red Cross under receive code 2540 to waive the transaction fee. Any dollar amount will be accepted up to a maximum of $249.99 per transaction.

Penner Confirmed as U.S. Stamps Chief

pennerOne year to the day after she was appointing Acting Director of Stamp Services for the U.S. Postal Service, Mary-Anne Penner has been promoted to Director, Stamp Services.

The appointment was made by Chief Marketing and Sales Officer and Exec. Vice President Jim Cochrane on Friday, April 22, 2016.

As you will read in the VSC post from one year ago, Penner has had a variety of management positions within the USPS. Since her appointment as Acting Director, she has been very visible at stamp shows and very accessible to collectors.



U.S. Resumes Mail Service To Cuba

There are special postmarks to commemorate the resumption of service. See the bottom of this page.

[press release]
United States Postal Service Resumes Mail Service to Cuba
First Direct Transportation of Mail Service to Cuba in More Than 50 Years

WASHINGTON — Today the United States Postal Service announced it resumed direct transportation of mail service with Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years. [The USPS tells The Virtual Stamp Club that direct service began March 16th, the day before this announcement.]

“The U.S. Postal Service is pleased to participate in the historic direct transportation of mail service with Cuba,” said Postmaster General and CEO Megan J. Brennan. “Moving letter mail and package volume directly between our countries will improve service for businesses and consumers.”

The types of mail customers in the U.S. can send to Cuba include First-Class Mail International items, such as postcards and letter size envelopes, First-Class Package International Service items, Priority Mail International Flat Rate Envelopes and Priority Mail International Small Flat Rate Priced Boxes. A comprehensive list of mailing conditions to Cuba can be found in the International Mail Manual at:

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

The VSC radio feature on this, and how it could prove an opportunity for postal history colletors, can be found here.

Special March 16th postmarks, available until May 16th:

cubapmk1United States Postal Headquarters
USA⁄Cuba Direct White House Station
National Postal Museum Post Office⁄Special Cancellations
2 Massachusetts Avenue
Washington, DC 20002-9998

cubapmk2United States Postal Headquarters
USA⁄Cuba Direct Postal HQ Station
National Postal Museum Post Office⁄Special Cancellations
2 Massachusetts Avenue
Washington, DC 20002-9998

U.S. Postal Rates To Go Down

StarSpangledBannerThe cost of mailing a letter in the U.S. went up three cents two years ago, but it was a temporary measure because the U.S. Postal Service was in serious financial trouble. The deal was the rate hike would last two years.

Those two years are up, and, despite USPS objections, and barring a last-minute reprieve by Congress, the Postal Service has to give up two of the three cents on April 10th. It getes to keep one cent to cover inflation. The rate reduction — the first in 97 years! — also affects other rates. Here are the ones most used by consumers:

Letters: From 49¢ to 47¢
Additional ounces: From 22¢ to 21¢
Letters to international destinations: From $1.20 to $1.15
Postcards: From 35¢ to 34¢

That means all those Forever stamps in your desk drawer are losing value on April 10th. Remember: Forever stamps will always pay the fee for mailing a letter, no matter where rates go. Who knew they could go down?

s_sarahvaughnNot surprisingly, the USPS is crying the blues (and how appropriate the Sarah Vaughan stamp will be issued three days before the reduction). Here’s the USPS press release:

Forced Price Reduction to Worsen USPS Financial Condition by $2 Billion Per Year
Postal Service Exigent Surcharge Pricing to End April 10

WASHINGTON — Absent Congressional or court action to extend or make permanent an existing exigent surcharge for mailing products and services – including the Forever stamp — the Postal Service will be required to reduce certain prices on Sunday, April 10, 2016. This mandatory action will worsen the Postal Service’s financial condition by reducing revenue and increasing its net losses by approximately $2 billion per year.

“The exigent surcharge granted to the Postal Service last year only partially alleviated our extreme multi-year revenue declines resulting from the Great Recession, which exceeded $7 billion in 2009 alone,” said Postmaster General and CEO Megan J. Brennan. “Removing the surcharge and reducing our prices is an irrational outcome considering the Postal Service’s precarious financial condition.”

An order from the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) requires the 4.3 percent exigent surcharge to be reversed after the Postal Service has collected surcharges totaling $4.6 billion. As outlined in a notice filed with the PRC today, that amount is expected to be reached by April 10th.

Postal Service prices for Mailing Services are capped by law at the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers (CPI-U). However, the law does allow for exigent pricing (price increases beyond the CPI-U cap) due to extraordinary or exceptional circumstances. That was the case when the Postal Service sought and ultimately received approval for the current exigent pricing, citing the severe effects of the Great Recession on Postal Service mail volume.

However, the PRC did not accept the views of the Postal Service concerning the extent of the harm resulting from the Great Recession, and the PRC strictly limited the period of time that the Postal Service could continue to collect the exigent surcharge. While the Postal Service has experienced rapid growth in package volume over the past few years, it is not nearly enough to offset the decline in revenues from Market-Dominant products, especially First-Class Mail.

Brennan added that the Postal Service’s current pricing system, where products that generate roughly 76 percent of its revenues fall under the statutory price cap, is fundamentally unsuited to the Postal Service’s current business environment in which First-Class Mail volume continues to decline and the network costs required to provide universal service continue to rise.

According to Brennan, “our current pricing regime is unworkable and should be replaced with a system that provides greater pricing flexibility and better reflects the economic challenges facing the Postal Service.”

Wrong Rate Postcard?

Sure seems that way. The current postcard rate within the U.S. is 35 cents. Yet this picture postcard from my wife’s friend in Boston, from the Museum of Fine Arts, is clearly postmarked in January 2016 with a 21¢ stamp. (I’ve removed the address, but, trust me, it went through the mail.)wrongrate1

Britain’s Royal Mail Celebrates 500 Years

[press release]

2016 commemorates 500 years since Henry VIII knighted Brian Tuke, the first Master of the Posts, in 1516.

As you would expect from any institution that has been around for 500 years, there are a number of significant dates in our history. The knighting of Brian Tuke was the catalyst for the creation of the Royal Mail we know today. Tuke had the influence and authority to establish key post towns across the country and build out a formal postal network.

To celebrate, Royal Mail is working in close partnership with its heritage partner, the British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA), to create an online gallery of 500 objects, people and events, telling the story not only of the postal service but also of our contribution to social and political development over the last 500 years.

Moya Greene, Chief Executive Officer, Royal Mail, said: “We are proud to celebrate the heritage of this great company. The history of the postal service in the UK reflects the tremendous societal and political change that has taken us from sixteenth century Tudor England to the United Kingdom today.

“In all its guises, Royal Mail has been responsible for a number of world firsts – the Penny Black stamp and the first ever airmail flight to name just two. It has also changed almost beyond recognition, from a small group of King’s Messengers in those early days to a national network connecting consumers, companies and communities across the UK today.

“Against this backdrop of continued change, Royal Mail’s people have been a constant presence. They are the heart of this company. I hope that, through them, we will continue to deliver the Universal Service and play an instrumental role in people’s lives for many years to come.”

Origins of Royal Mail

    • 1516: Henry VIII knighted Brian Tuke, the first Master of the Posts. Tuke had the influence and authority to establish key post towns across the country and build a formal postal network.
    • Before 1635: The postal service operated only for the King and the Court
    • 1635: The postal service was opened up to the general public by King Charles I. A Letter Office was established in London, and six post roads were formalised, including Dover to London, to carry mail across the country
    • 1660: The Post Office Act created the publicly-owned postal service
    • 1711: The Post Office Act paved the way for a unified postal service across Scottish and English (including Wales) administrations following the 1707 Act of Union. Ireland followed in 1808
    • 1840: The reform – over a number of years – of the Post Office by Rowland Hill and others defined the basis of the modern postal service as we know it today and coincided with the broader social and technological changes sweeping across Victorian society at the time
    • 1883: The launch of Parcel Post reflected a growing appetite among both residential and business customers to send and receive parcels. The growth of parcels saw the term ‘Letter Carrier’ replaced with ‘postman’, which is still in use today
      Royal Mail and Social Change
    • 1840: The introduction of the Penny Post prompted an unprecedented expansion in the popularity of mail, as it became more affordable. Mail volumes rose from 67 million in 1839 to 242 million by 1844, with a further lift to more than one billion letters by 1875
    • 1840 onwards: The rise of mail was accompanied by a significant increase in literacy levels as the UK became more industrialised and there was a greater provision of early education
    • 1901: The Association of Post Office Women Clerks was founded. It was the first association in the UK civil service to represent female clerical workers
    • 1861: British entrepreneur Pryce Pryce-Jones set up the first modern mail order company. He distributed Welsh flannel catalogues across the country, allowing people to choose the items they wished and to order them via post
    • Royal Mail employees were some of the first in the UK to receive a company pension, before the introduction of the state pension by David Lloyd George in 1908
    • 1959: Postcodes were introduced on a trial basis in Norwich and then rolled out nationally from 1965-1972. The system is widely recognised as one of the most granular and precise Postcode systems in the world
      World Firsts
    • 1661: The first Bishop mark (or postmark as it is known today) was used. This identified the date of dispatch to give confidence in the speed and reliability of the mail. It was named after the then Postmaster General, Henry Bishop
    • 1840: The Penny Black, the first adhesive postal stamp, launched. As the inventor of the postage stamp, the UK is the only country in the world that does not have its country name on the stamp
    • 1840: The release of the Penny Black also marked the origins of the Universal Service, under which postal rates became uniform across the country
    • 1911: The first scheduled airmail service flew from Hendon to Windsor, as part of the celebrations for the Coronation of King George V. Aviator Gustav Hamel was at the helm for the maiden flight, which was a precursor to the opening up of the postal service overseas
      How the Mail Was Delivered
    • 1516: Busy towns kept a special stable, known as a post, ready to carry mail at a moment’s notice. Letters travelled at speeds averaging 7 to 8 miles per hour in summer and 5 miles per hour in winter. Fresh horses were supplied every 10 to 15 miles
    • 1784: Horse drawn coaches featuring the Royal Mail livery were deployed for the first time to transport the mail, following a trial run between Bristol and London. Other routes to major cities soon followed. The departure of the night mail from London was a public spectacle, with hundreds of onlookers gathering to watch the coaches depart
    • 1800s: King’s Messengers were employed by the government to carry messages from the Admiralty during wars. They were often required to board sail-driven packet ships in order to deliver messages to the theatre of conflict
    • 1821: Steam-driven packet ships were introduced to deliver mail across the British Empire and the Commonwealth, leading to the founding of Royal Mail Ships (RMS) in 1840. The ships proved popular with passengers too, as they ran to strict timetables to ensure mail was delivered on time
    • 1830: The General Post Office and the Liverpool and Manchester Railway reached an agreement that saw the start of mail being carried by train. The first route was between Liverpool and Manchester
    • 1907: The first motor vehicle, a two and a half tonne lorry called the Maudslay Stores Number 1, entered the service. The vehicle was in service for 18 years during which it covered over 300,000 miles
    • 1934: German rocket engineer, Gerhard Zucker, made the suggestion that mail could be delivered by rockets. He failed to persuade the company that they were a viable option

The People Made Royal Mail

  • 1665: 45 people were employed by the postal service. Employee numbers climbed to nearly half a million in the 20th century
  • 1836: Moses Nobbs was the longest serving Mail Guard in the Royal Mail, serving 55 years (1836-1891) initially on the Mail Coaches and later on the railways in Travelling Post Offices (TPOs)
  • 1880: Post Office telegraphy clerk, Charles Garland begins to campaign for better healthcare and working conditions for staff during the consumption crisis. The campaign led to development of the first healthcare fund in the country. The Post Office Sanatorium Society was founded in 1905, leading to much improved conditions across the company. The fund continues today as The Benenden Healthcare Society Limited, with almost 900,000 members
  • 1880: Henry Fawcett from Salisbury was appointed Postmaster General in 1880. With the support of his wife Millicent Fawcett, who founded the Fawcett Society, he campaigned for the employment of women
  • 1908: Mrs Elizabeth Dickson retired as a rural postwoman after 30 years and 8 months’ service. She was never late for duty and had only taken off 14 days for illness
  • 1912: Two British postal workers died aboard the RMS Titanic. James Bertram Williamson and John Richard Jago Smith were determined to save the mail as the ship went down, with a witness saying they “urged them to leave their work. They shook their heads and continued.” They died alongside US postal workers Oscar Scott Woody, John Starr March, and William Logan Gwinn
  • 1941: The General Post Office approves women’s trousers, named “Camerons” after the postwoman Jean Cameron who requested their introduction

Royal Mail and the British Empire

  • 1737: Founding father of the United States, Benjamin Franklin was appointed Postmaster of Philadelphia under the British Parliamentary Post. He, alongside William Hunter, streamlined the postal system in the US to increase take up and make it profitable
  • 1847: The ‘Post Office’ Mauritius stamps were first issued. They were the first stamps to be issued in the British Empire. They are among the rarest in the world, with a value of around one million pounds. The plates were engraved by Joseph Barnard from Portsmouth, who stowed away on a ship to get to Mauritius
  • 1937: Launch of the Empire Mail Scheme, which lowered the cost of sending letters to British Empire destinations. The scheme was a success, with over 91 million letters being sent in 1938

Royal Mail’s Role in the Two World Wars
World War I

  • 1914-1918: 12,000 postal workers served in The Post Office Rifles throughout the First World War. 1,800 were killed and over 4,500 wounded
  • 1914-1918: During the First World War, Royal Mail saw a huge rise in letters and parcels sent to loved ones fighting abroad. At its peak, 2,500 staff handled 12 million letters and a million parcels in a week
  • 1914-1918: To cope with the increase, Royal Mail built the Home Depot, an enormous wooden temporary sorting office in Regent’s Park that covered several acres
  • 1914-1918: Four former postal workers were awarded the Victoria Cross – Sgt Albert Gill from Birmingham, Sgt Alfred Knight from Nottingham, Major Henry Kelly from Manchester and Sgt John Hogan, a postman from Oldham

World War II

  • 1944: General Dwight D Eisenhower wrote to the Postmaster General, thanking staff for keeping the network of communications open across the country in the run up to D-Day
  • Eisenhower wrote: ‘The build-up of the necessary forces for the current operations has involved the construction of a vast network of communications radiating from key centers of vital importance in the United Kingdom. The greater part of this work has been undertaken by the Engineers and Staff of the General Post Office
  • 1941: Airgraph, based on microfilm technology, was introduced in the Second World War as a solution to the circuitous route for air communication between Britain and the Middle East. It helped reduce the size of mail while maintaining the volume of letters sent

The Role of Animals

  • 1868: Cats were first officially appointed by the Post Office to catch rodents. Three cats worked at the Money Order Office in London, with an allowance of one shilling a week
  • 1950: Probably the most famous feline is Tibs who lived in the Royal Mail Headquarters refreshment club in the basement of the building. After Tibs died on 23 November 1964, his obituary in the January 1965 Post Office Magazine was headed “Tibs the Great is No More”
  • 1898: Horses harnessed to coaches were used to deliver a growing amount of mail. As a valuable part of the delivery process, the horses were entitled to sick leave. A note from 1898 states that ‘Mr T C Poppleton’s horse…is suffering from sore shoulders and unable to perform his official duties’
  • 1943: During the Second World War, there were 22,000 pigeons in service

The “Royal” in “Royal Mail”

  • Starting with Henry VIII, the UK postal service has operated under 21 monarchs
  • 1840: Queen Victoria was the first monarch in the world to appear on a postage stamp with the launch of the Penny Black
  • 1840s: Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and the second son of Queen Victoria begins the Royal stamp collection, with the ‘Kirkcudbright Cover’ bearing ten Penny Blacks
  • 1853: Postboxes first appear with the insignia, or cypher, of the monarch reigning at the time of placement
  • 1966: Queen Elizabeth II approved Arnold Machin’s design of her to be used on what came to be known as the ‘Machin series’ of British definitive postage stamps. Her Majesty’s image has appeared more than 180 billion copies produced to date


  • 1840: The introduction of the Penny Black meant postage was paid by the sender and the price set by weight. Before this point, recipients usually had to pay postage, and were charged by the number of sheets in the letter and distance travelled
  • 1940: Following the outbreak of the Second World War, and the resulting greater co-operation between Britain and France, there were many calls for a joint stamp issue. The plans were eventually abandoned
  • 1951: The plan to celebrate the centenary of the Great Exhibition of 1851 with a Festival was accompanied by a request for a complete new range of stamps. The stamps were issued on 3 May 1951, the day the Festival was officially opened
  • 1965: The then Postmaster General, Tony Benn, worked with designer David Gentleman to modernise stamp design. The reason for the creation of Special Stamps was to celebrate events and commemorate anniversaries relevant to UK heritage and life. The stamp of Sir Winston Churchill, issued in July of that year, was designed by Gentleman and was the first under Benn’s administration
  • 2012: Twenty nine stamps were produced to commemorate Great Britain’s gold medal winners at the London 2012 Olympic Games
  • Images of The Queen form the most frequent subject on Royal Mail Special Stamps (in addition to Her Majesty’s silhouette which can be found in the corner of every stamp). The next most popular individual to feature is The Duke of Edinburgh. He is followed by William Shakespeare
  • Christmas
  • 1843: The postal service played an important role in defining the archetypal Victorian Christmas. Henry Cole launched the first Christmas card with an initial print run of 1,000. The cards originally cost a shilling each, the equivalent of about £36 today. In 2001, an original card sold at an auction for £25,000
  • Mid 1800s: Robins began gracing the front of Christmas cards. This change was a result of the bright red waistcoat that Royal Mail postmen and women wore
  • 1963: Royal Mail was appointed by Santa to reply to letters addressed to him. In the first year, Royal Mail replied to over 8,000 letters. It was such a success, the Postmaster General, Reginald Bevins – was labelled ‘Santa Bevins’
  • Royal Mail today
  • As the UK’s sole designated Universal Service Provider, Royal Mail delivers the ‘one-price-goes-anywhere’ service to more than 29 million addresses, across the UK, six-days-a-week
  • Royal Mail handles more than one billion parcels and more than 16 billion letters a year¹
  • With a workforce of more than 140,000 people, the company is one of the UK’s largest employers
  • On average, one in 180 employed people in the UK works for Royal Mail
  • Royal Mail made the 6th largest contribution to the UK economy of all UK corporations in 2014¹
  • The organisation has a fleet of more than 49,000 vehicles delivering mail to all parts of the country
  • In 2004, The British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA) is established as an independent charity to care for five centuries of Royal Mail history. 2017 will see the new rebranded The Postal Museum open in central London, bringing a wealth of stories from British social and communications history to life
  • In 2014, Royal Mail introduced around 30 new services, products and promotions to enhance its customer offering
  • Royal Mail red – which features on the vans, uniforms and post boxes – is part of the DNA of Royal Mail as well as part of the fabric of UK life
  • In 2015, Royal Mail was named as the global leader in its sector in the prestigious Dow Jones Sustainability Indices

WSJ: USPS Having A Good Holiday Season

usps_pkgdelivery2You know all that aggressive marketing this holiday season by the U.S. Postal Service? It appears to be paying off.

The Wall Street Journal reports the USPS share of holiday deliveries this year will increase from last year’s 35% to 40%. Volume is already up 15%

WSJ says the agency prepared well, deploying additional package sorting equipment, adding more scanning devices for carriers and clerks, hiring about 30,000 seasonal workers, increasing the number of shifts in some areas from one a day to three — that is, round-usps_pkgs_plantsthe-clock. The USPS is also delivering on Sunday for the equivalent of about 25,000 routes. UPS and FedEx don’t usually deliver on Sundays.

Meanwhile, the Journal also reports that Amazon is looking to become less dependent on United Parcel Service. Right now, Amazon is the biggest customer of UPS.

Among the steps Amazon is taking: Buildings its own freight operation and relying more heavily on the USPS.

More from The Wall Street Journal here and here.

USPS Restricts Shipping Of Hoverboards

hoverboardFollowing reports of hoverboard fires around the country, the U.S. Postal Service will only ship the recreational gizmos by ground transportation, slower than other services.

Hoverboards are skateboards without wheels, first depicted in the films Back To The Future Part II and Back To The Future Part III. In real life, they are self-balancing scooters with wheels at each end of the board.

On Wednesday, December 16, 2015, the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a stern warning about hoverboards, and said it is investigating the problem “to find the root cause of the fire hazard, how much of a risk it might present, and to provide consumers with answers as soon as possible.”

“Every consumer who is riding a hoverboard, who purchased one to give as a gift during the holidays, or who is thinking about buying one deserves to know if there is a safety defect.”

Later in the day, the USPS announced the restrictions:

Out of an abundance of caution and in line with major retailers and the airline industry, the Postal Service is limiting the domestic shipping of mailable motorized balance boards, or hover boards, that contain lithium batteries.

Effective immediately and until further notice, USPS will ship hover boards using only Standard Post/Parcel Select. This product travels on ground transportation, due to the potential safety hazards of lithium batteries.

Also effective immediately, mailable motorized balance boards, or hover boards, will not be sent in international mail shipments, and are also prohibited in shipments to or from APO, FPO, and DPO destinations.

The Postal Service has long-time established rules and regulations regarding the mailing of lithium batteries both domestically and internationally.

USPS rules and regulations pertaining to lithium batteries can be found at the following links:

Note:  these rules do not yet include the limitations and prohibitions on hover boards.