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Postal Service

( Originally Published 1918 )



The postal service of the United States handles over 50 per cent more mail matter than the postal service of Great Britain, and over 100 per cent more than the postal service of France.

Domestic Rates of Postage.—All mailable matter to points in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Porto Rico, Hawaii, Guam, Tutuila, and the Philippines, is divided into four classes under the following regulations:

First-Class Matter.—This class includes letters, postal cards, "post-cards," and anything sealed or otherwise closed against inspection, or anything containing writing not allowed on mail mat-ter of other classifications.

Rates of letter postage, two cents per ounce or fraction thereof.

Rates on local or drop letters at free delivery offices, two cents per ounce or fraction thereof. At offices where there is no free delivery by carriers, one cent per ounce or fraction thereof.

Rates on postal cards, one cent (double or "reply" cards, two cents). Nothing must be added or attached to a postal card, except that a printed address slip not larger than 2 inches by 3/4 of an inch may be pasted on the address or message side. The addition of anything else subjects the card to letter postage. Cards that have been spoiled in printing or otherwise will be redeemed from the original purchasers at 75 per cent of their face value, if unmutilated. "Post cards" or private mailing cards bearing written messages may be transmitted in the domestic mails at the rate of two cents apiece, stamps to be affixed by the sender; such cards to be sent openly in the mails.

Rates on Specially Delivered Letters, ten cents on each letter in addition to the regular postage. This entitles the letter to immediate delivery by special messenger. Special delivery stamps are sold at postoffices, and should be affixed to such letters. Stamps to the value of ten cents affixed to a letter will do if special delivery is written under. The delivery, at carrier offices, extends to the limits of the carrier routes. At non-carrier offices it extends to one mile from the postoffice. Post-masters are not obliged to deliver beyond these limits, and letters addressed to places beyond must await delivery in the usual way, notwithstanding the special delivery stamp.

Prepayment by stamps invariably required. Postage on all letters should be fully prepaid, but if prepaid one full rate and no more, they will be forwarded, and the amount of deficient post-age collected on delivery; if wholly unpaid, or prepaid with less than one full rate and deposited at a postoffice, the addressee will be notified to remit postage; and if he fails to do so, they will be sent to the Dead Letter Office; but they will be returned to the sender if he is located at the place of mailing, and if his address be printed or written upon them.

Letter rates are charged on all productions by the typewriter or manifold process, and on all printed imitations of typewriting or manuscript, finless such reproductions are presented at post-office windows in the minimum number of twenty identical copies separately addressed.

Letters (but no other class of mail matter) will be returned to the sender free, if a request to that effect is printed or written on the envelope. The limit of weight for first-class matter fully pre-paid is the same as fourth-class matter, namely seventy pounds for parcels mailed for delivery within the first, second and third zones, and fifty pounds for all other zones.

Prepaid letters will be reforwarded from one postoffice to another upon the written request of the person addressed, without additional charge for postage. The direction on forwarded letters may be changed as many times as may be necessary to reach the person addressed.

Second-Class Matter. — Includes newspapers, magazines issued at regular periods not less than four times a year for genuine circulation among subscribers who pay a subscription rate and among news dealers for sale to their customers. Second-class matter also includes periodical publications of benevolent and fraternal societies, organized under the lodge system and having a membership of a thousand persons, and of the bulletins and proceedings of strictly professional, literary, historical, and scientific associations and institutions, trade unions, etc., provided only that these be published at stated intervals not less than four times a year, and that they be printed on and be bound in paper. Publishers who wish to avail themselves of the privileges of the act are required to make formal application to the department through the postmaster at the place of publication, producing satisfactory evidence that the publications come within the purview of the law.

Second-class matter includes newspapers and periodicals. No limit of weight is prescribed. The rate of postage when sent by other than the publisher or news agent is lc for each 2 oz. or fraction of 2 oz.

Third-Class Matter — Embraces circulars, books (including catalogues) of twenty-four pages or more, and other printed matter on pa-per (except newspapers and periodicals admitted to second class), proofsheets and manuscript, in raised characters used by the blind, merchandise, farm and factory products, seeds, bulbs, cuttings, roots, scions and plants, and all other mailable matter not embraced in the first and second classes, when sent in packages weighing up to and including eight ounces. When sent in parcels exceeding eight ounces parcel-post rates apply.

The rate of postage on third-class matter is 11/2c each 2 oz. or fraction of 2 oz. The rate on Books (except library books), and Catalogs (24 pages or more), Seeds, etc., is lc for each 2 oz. or fraction of 2 oz. up to and including 8 oz.

Bulk Third-Class.-Not less than 20 lbs. or 200 separately addressed identical pieces ; apply Main Post Office for permit to mail.

Miscellaneous—12c each lb. or fraction, but not less than lc per piece.

Books, Seeds, etc.—8c each pound or fraction, but not less than lc per piece.

Matter mailed at bulk rates cannot be Registered or Insured or sent C. O. D.

It should be separated by states and offices.

Fourth-Class Matter (Always Parcel Post)—Includes printed matter, merchandise and all matter (other than first-class, second-class, and second-class transient matter) weighing in excess of 8 oz.



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