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United States/Covers & Postmarks : City Mail 1898: Arenas Valley New Mexico; plus a discussion of rates

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Heyralph
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30 Jan 2009
11:28:15am
I've been following the news about the U.S. Post Office possibly reducing its service from 6 days to 5 days a week. I remembered learning that at the turn of the century (19th-->20th) mail was so vital to daily life that major cities often had multiple mail deliveries a day. An internet search turned up an interesting and timely tidbit from the New York Times of January 14, 1898 that I'm attaching to this post. The article is announcing that New York City in the face of a national postal budget shortfall was contemplating cutting its residential service in some areas from six deliveries a day to four!

New York Times - January 14 1898
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Bobstamp
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30 Jan 2009
11:52:41am
re: City Mail 1898: Arenas Valley New Mexico; plus a discussion of rates

I believe that 900 X 600 pixels is the maximum allowed.

I have seen postcards from the late 1800s, with orders for various fresh grocery products needed the same day, and others with messages to friends saying things like "Dear Hattie, Please come for tea this afternoon at 1:00 pm."

Those were the days. Of course streets were paved with what my mother calls horses' doovers, I suppose from the French d'oeuvre, ladies wore shoes that eventually crippled them (not a lot different than the choice many women make today), and child mortality was more than 10 times higher than today, although infant mortality rates are still relatively poor in the U.S., which ranks 23rd among developed nations.

Bob

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www.ephemeraltreasures.net
Timauld
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Just one more small cover .....
30 Jan 2009
07:40:09pm
re: City Mail 1898: Arenas Valley New Mexico; plus a discussion of rates

Just being pedantic Bob, the image limit is 900 x 1000.

Thanks for this article Ralph. It is most interesting. I can't believe they had 6 - 7 mail deliveries each day. That is almost as good as our email delivery. I just think of the organization that would be required to do something like this, and with out any computer assistance.

Regards ... Tim.

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mncancels.org
Harley
30 Jan 2009
09:03:11pm
re: City Mail 1898: Arenas Valley New Mexico; plus a discussion of rates

Nice article,interesting and another proof of "on going" complaints and possible solutions to USPS delemma.
Of course,do not expectlower rates ,only less service for the price.It's the ole capitalism way of doing business.

I recall an article about a Mr. Spooner, who started his own mail service to compete with then USPOD. Stateing overcharges for local delivery,He said a letter from New York to California cost 7 cents, but that 7 cents was outragious charges for a letter to go crosstown. He operated for a spell but eventualy quit.But it did result in USPOD lowering postage rates to 4 and eventualy the 1,2,and 3 cent rates. (turn of century).
Wish I would have saved the article and shared it with you all.
TOM

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Bobstamp
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30 Jan 2009
10:40:31pm
re: City Mail 1898: Arenas Valley New Mexico; plus a discussion of rates

Tim said, "I just think of the organization that would be required to do something like this, and with out any computer assistance."

It's more than organization and computers. Back when I was a lad --oh my god, did I just type that? -- postal employees were dedicated, hard working, proud professionals who respected their clients and were respected in turn. Post offices were high-security institutions with polished marble floors, decorative steel grills which separated customers from clerks, and a general air of purpose and importance. The clerks understood what stamp collectors wanted, and were literate: they could actually pronounce all five syllables in "commemorative," and knew what it meant. They would inspect their stock for well-centered stamps, and then actually crease the perforations before removing the stamps you wanted.

Not all post offices, of course, were marble palaces. The first one in my experience was little more than a shack in a small village. The two postmasters who were in charge during the time I lived there took their jobs seriously, and could also pronounce "commemorative". You might enjoy my web page about this post office and some youthful adventures in which it figured. It's titled Box 28, Arenas Valley, New Mexico

Bob

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Teisler
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
31 Jan 2009
05:48:37am

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re: City Mail 1898: Arenas Valley New Mexico; plus a discussion of rates

US domestic rates at the turn of the last century were 2c for first class mail REGARDLESS of distance, so whether cross-town or cross-country: 2c. This was down from the 3c 35 years earlier during the Civil War, which coincided with America's early days of universal postal fees. Prior to that, fees were distance- AND weight- (or sheet-) based, so, in the 1840s, only 20 years before the Civil War, but aeons in postal terms, it was more to mail NY to SF than NY to Phillie (sorry, my rate knowledge here is light at best). My point is that Mr. Spooner had nothing to complain about: rates were not 7c for any first class mail anywhere (assuming it's a single ounce) domestically NOR were they distance based. The ONLY exception were local drop rates, which were 1c, with certain restrictions.

International rates covered by UPU were only 5c, with a few 2c rates to South America and England and Germany, the latter two with specific restrictions. Not all countries were UPU signatories, so rates could be higher.

I had understood there to be 2 deliveries daily in cities, but we should also remember that universal delivery, including RFD, is relatively recent (the 1930s, I think, long after Mr. Spooner made his complaint). That article was interesting to me because of the higher number of deliveries. It seems that there was a correlation to wage based on amount of mail delivered, if i read the article correctly (which would make sense, as postmasters were paid based on mail volume through their stations).

We also should compare apples to apples (and I'm leaving out clerks, who go from golden delicious to rotten). In 1900, mail carriers were delivering letters and post cards, with the rare catalogue and, on a farm, the occasional box of chicks. There weren't 6 heavy catalogues per day, per mail box, nor similar numbers of pieces of advertising mail.

And carriers knew their customers. Not one of us posting in this thread was born in the town from which we are now writing. Tom is pretty stable (address-wise), but Bob has moved cross continent, I've moved multiple times across many states, and Tim has crossed hemispheres and continents. In 1900, there was little transience.

David

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"Save the USPS, buy stamps; save the hobby, use commemoratives"

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Heyralph
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01 Feb 2009
05:45:01am
re: City Mail 1898: Arenas Valley New Mexico; plus a discussion of rates

I'm glad others found that article interesting too. Bob, I did go and read "Box 28" and really enjoyed it. I'm sure that more than a few here can have a nostalgic moment thinking about going to the post office and having the clerk carefully separate plate blocks – or waiting not-so-patiently for the next batch of approvals to arrive. Unfortunately all those blocks from the mid-70s didn't survive college years in my parents' damp basement. The accumulation of cheap approval stock seems to have done much better, but the Minkus stock books (which cost more than the stamps) are disintegrating. One of these days I'm going to transfer them all to Vario sheets, just out of respect for the kid who collected them.

Ralph

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