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Unusual Use of "Parcel Post Postage Due" Stamps from 1913

Updated: Mar 20

(This article was published in The United States Specialist, March 2024, Vol. 95, No. 3, Whole Number 1129, pp. 113-114. A PDF is attached below.)

In late 1912, the Post Office issued a set of 12 parcel post stamps with denominations ranging from 1-cent to one-dollar. The Post Office also issued five parcel post postage due stamps with denominations ranging from 1-cent to 25-cents. Starting January 1, 1913, these stamps were to be used exclusively on 4th class mail weighing four ounces or more. Other stamps could not be used on parcel post after that date.

That exclusivity did not last long, however. Effective July 1, 1913, the Post Office decreed that regular postage stamps would be valid on parcels, and from that point forward, parcel post stamps -- including the postage due varieties -- became usable as regular stamps. Parcel post stamps remained on sale, but no further printings were made.

These two covers provide examples of the 1-cent and 2-cent parcel post postage dues being used on regular mail. In the US Scott Catalog, these are numbers JQ1 and JQ2, respectively.

The cover depicted in Figure 1 was mailed from Portage, Pennsylvania on September 30, 1913. It was a first-class letter, thus requiring 2-cents worth of postage at the time. Since just 1-cent of postage was affixed in the form of US Scott #405 (probably a single from a booklet pane, thus #405b), the letter was forwarded on with 1-cent postage due. Since the post office probably did not have any regular postage due stamps in stock (at the time, that would been US Scott #J45), the postal clerk affixed the 1-cent parcel post postage due stamp, a perfectly legitimate move.

Who sent this letter from Portage, which is about 240 miles due west of Philadelphia, is unknown. I can't find much information on the recipient, Miss Golde Rosenburg. There was someone by that name born in Philadelphia 1906, but other than a birth certificate, there are no further records on an individual by that name in Philadelphia.

German Hospital, however, continues in operation to this day. It is known as Lankenau Medical Center and is considered one of the top 5 hospitals in the Philadelphia region. It was founded in 1860 as the German Hospital of Philadelphia and served primarily German-speaking residents and immigrants. With the entry of the US into World War I in 1917, it was renamed Lankenau Hospital.

The second example shown in Figure 2 was postmarked in Kansas City, Missouri on September 4, 1913. Two-cents of postage was affixed to the envelope in the form of US Scott #406, but given that it was a number 10-size envelope and contained correspondence from one attorney to another, it probably weighted more than one ounce, thus requiring 2-cents of additional postage. That overage was covered by affixing the parcel post postage due stamp that is number JQ2 in the US Scott Catalog.

The sender was Charles M. Bush (1876-1936), a prominent Kansas City attorney. The recipient was Silas Bullard (1841-1922), who during his career was an attorney, judge, and president of a bank in Menasha, Wisconsin.

Figure 1

Figure 2

1129 pages 113, 114
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