Postal Insignia

Inscriptions

Contrary to popular belief, the United States Postal Service has no official motto. However, a number of postal buildings contain inscriptions, the most familiar of which appear in New York City and Washington, D.C.

 

General Post Office, New York City, 8th Avenue and 33rd Street

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

From the works of Herodotus describing the expedition of the Greeks against the Persians under Cyrus, about 500 B.C. The Persians operated a system of mounted postal couriers who performed with great fidelity.

 

Former Washington, D.C., Post Office, Massachusetts Avenue and North Capitol Street, now the site of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum

Messenger of Sympathy and Love

Servant of Parted Friends

Consoler of the Lonely

Bond of the Scattered Family

Enlarger of the Common Life

Carrier of News and Knowledge

Instrument of Trade and Industry

Promoter of Mutual Acquaintance

Of Peace and of Goodwill Among Men and Nations

From “The Letter,” by Dr. Charles W. Eliot, former president of Harvard University, as revised by President Woodrow Wilson.

 

Seals

Mercury, a post rider, and now the eagle have symbolized the U.S. postal system at various times.

In 1782, Postmaster General Ebenezer Hazard used the figure of Mercury, messenger of the gods, in his official seal. Mercury’s feet, helmet, and staff had wings, and he was encircled by an inscription which read, in Latin, “Seal of the Office of the General Messenger.” By 1824 the inscription was changed to read “Seal of the Gen| Post-Office Department,” Mercury’s right hand was raised, and he was standing on top of a globe. By 1829 “America” was written on the globe.

Amos Kendall, in his May 1, 1837, Order of the Postmaster General, moved away from this classical, divine imagery when he directed that the official seal of the Post Office Department portray “a Post Horse in speed, with Mail-bags and rider, encircled by the words ‘Post Office Department, United States of America.’” The energy and effort of a human on a gallant horse served as the seal of the Post Office Department from 1837 through 1970.

When President Nixon signed the Postal Reorganization Act into law on August 12, 1970, the bald eagle became the center of the Postal Service seal. The eagle was poised for flight on a white field, above red and blue bars framing the words “U.S. Mail,” which were in black. The ochre border featured the words “United States Postal Service” on three sides and nine five-pointed stars at the base. The stars had no special symbolism.

On October 12, 1993, Postmaster General Marvin Runyon unveiled a new corporate logo, an eagle’s head in white leaning into the wind, on a blue background. The 1993 corporate logo became a registered trademark on September 12, 1995. It has not replaced the 1970 postal seal as the official seal of the United States Postal Service.

 

 

 

Acknowledgments

 

The United States Postal Service: An American History is published by Government Relations, United States Postal Service,
475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW, Washington, DC, 20260-3500.

 

Thomas G. Day

Senior Vice President

Government Relations

 

Joanne B. Giordano

Vice President

Public Affairs & Communications

 

Judith A. deTorok

Manager

Legislative Policy and Strategy Development

 

Thad Dilley

Manager

Brand Equity and Design

 

Megaera Ausman

Historian

 

Frank Schultz-Depalo

Designer

 

Jennifer M. Lynch

Research Analyst, Postal History

 

Melody Selvage

Research Analyst, Postal History

 

Gerald T. Merna

Photographer

 

The Postal Service thanks all who contributed to this publication, especially Daniel Afzal, Debbi Baer, Sandra M. Harding, Ernest E. Harris, Susan Hawes, Kristen Hudak, Carla J. Hunter, Michael M. Kubayanda, William R. Lalli, Thomas C. Potter, Paula E. Rabkin, and Frank R. Scheer. The contributions of Margaret C. Boardman, Ph.D., and the pioneering work of the late Rita Lloyd Moroney were important to this publication.

 

All photographs are from the United States Postal Service, except where noted.

 

The following are registered trademarks of the United States Postal Service:Airmail, APC, Automated Postal Center, Click-N-Ship, Collection Box (shape of round-top), Confirm, Express Mail, First-Class Mail, Intelligent Mail, Mr. ZIP, Parcel Post, PC Postage, Planet Code, PostalOne!, Priority Mail, Redress, Standard Mail, U.S. Mail and Eagle Logo, United States Office of Inspector General, United States Post Office, United States Postal Inspection Service, United States Postal Service, U.S. Postal Service, USPS, usps.com, USPS eBillPay, United States Postal Service Pro Cycling Team, ZIP+4.