Mount Vernon Post Office to (Post) Mark Historic ZIP Code Day

Once-a-Millennium Pictorial Postmark to Feature Mt. Vernon’s 5-23-14 ZIP Code

May 16, 2014 



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MR ZIP

What    Special Mount Vernon, IA “ZIP Code Day” Pictorial Postmark

Who    U.S. Postal Service – Mount Vernon, IA Post Office

When    Friday, May 23, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Where    Mount Vernon Post Office, 124 2nd Street SW

ZIP Code Background: During World War II, thousands of experienced postal employees left to serve with the military. To offset the loss, in May 1943 the Post Office Department began a zoning address system in 124 of the largest cities. Under this system, delivery units or zones were identified by one or two numbers between the city and state — for example, Birmingham 7, Alabama — so that mail could be separated by employees who did not have detailed scheme knowledge.

Twenty years later, the Department implemented an even farther reaching plan, the Zoning Improvement Plan (ZIP) Code.

The social correspondence of the 19th century had given way, gradually then explosively, to business mail. By 1963, 80 percent of all mail in the United States was business mail. The development of the computer brought centralization of accounts and sent a growing mass of utility bills and payments, bank deposits and receipts, advertising, magazines, credit card transactions, mortgage bills and payments, and Social Security checks through the mail. Yet while mail volume grew and while the Post Office Department had been at the forefront of advances in transportation, the methods and much of the equipment used to sort mail in thousands of Post Offices remained the same as in Benjamin Franklin’s day. A better way to sort mail was needed.

In June 1962, after a study of mechanization, the presidentially appointed Advisory Board of the Post Office Department made several recommendations. One was the development of a coding system, an idea the Department had considered for a decade or more. A number of coding programs were examined and discarded before the Department selected a system advanced by Department officials. Postmaster General J. Edward Day announced the ZIP Code would launch July 1, 1963.

The next step in establishing the ZIP Code was to assign codes to mail processing centers and the postal addresses they served. The existence of postal zones in the larger cities, set in motion in 1943, helped to some extent, but in cases where the old zones failed to fit within the delivery areas, new numbers had to be assigned.

By July 1963, a five-digit code had been assigned to every address throughout the country. The first digit designated a broad geographical area of the United States, ranging from zero for the Northeast to nine for the far West. This number was followed by two digits that more closely pinpointed population concentrations and those sectional centers accessible to common transportation networks. The final two digits designated small Post Offices or postal zones in larger zoned cities.

Ordering the special Mount Vernon “ZIP Code Day” Postmark

Customers have 60 days to obtain the special postmark by mail. They may purchase First-Class stamps at local Post Offices, at The Postal Store at usps.com/shop, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes to themselves or others and place them in larger envelopes addressed to:

ZIP Code Day Postmark
Postmaster
124 2nd St SW
Mt. Vernon IA 52314-9998

After applying the ZIP Code Day postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, the price is five cents each. All orders must be postmarked by July 22, 2014.

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