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All Things Shipping | March 29, 2018

5 Surprising U.S. Postal Service Facts

5 Surprising U.S. Postal Service Facts

The U.S. Postal Service is one of the oldest fixtures of our American history. It got its start as the U.S. Mail in 1775 under Postmaster General Benjamin Franklin. It’s changed quite a bit over the years—did you know the USPS didn’t officially deliver mail to homes until the Civil War?

The story goes that postal clerk Joseph William Briggs noticed that families were waiting in long lines at their local Post Office to receive letters from their soldiers. He decided to deliver the mail free of charge, so families could stay home, and the rest is history.

We count on the USPS to deliver our mail and packages six days a week. Yet, nobody really knows about its incredibly colorful past. Here are some of the more quirky facts about the USPS over its lifetime.

Some of our Favorite Facts about the USPS

Oh, Baby!

Baby in a Mail Carrier Bag

(Image source: Postal Museum Blog)

The USPS has successfully shipped a few infants in its day. Parents occasionally mailed their children to other destinations without incident via Parcel Post, as long as they were within the 11-pound weight limit.

In 1913 in Ohio, eight-month-old James Beagle was mailed by his parents to his grandmother a few miles away. But, don’t try this at home: shipping children is now strictly prohibited.

Mule Need to Be Patient

Mule Mail Carriers

Mule Need to Be PatientMule Mail Carriers

(Image source: USPS Blog)

In Supai, Arizona, mail is delivered on mules, since the road travels through the Grand Canyon and is only accessible by foot, pack animals, or helicopter. The mules also deliver food, supplies, and even furniture. There’s a special postmark for Supai’s outgoing mail to show that the mail was carried by mules.

The Carrier Terrier

Owney the USPS Mascot

(Image source: Philly Mag)

The USPS has an unofficial mascot: Owney the terrier. He rode around in trains with the mail. Unfortunately, he was put down in 1897 after he bit someone. He was preserved and is now on display in the National Postal Museum.

Let Freedom Ring…Your Doorbell

USPS mail truck

(Image source: Wikipedia)

The USPS is financially independent, and does not receive any tax dollars for operating expenses. The Postal Service relies on the sale of postage, products, and services to fund its operations.

See You Tater!

Shipping Potatoes

Although babies are off the table, you can still ship other quirky items through the U.S. Postal Service.

Our favorite quirky item to ship? A potato. That’s right. The USPS will still accept potatoes in the flesh, as long as they are clearly marked with an address and affixed with enough postage. Speaking of shipping potatoes, stay tuned this weekend for some stellar shipping humor that’s sure to knock your tots off!

If you liked this post, you might also like our recent post sharing everything you need to know about USPS Flat Rate boxes or a detailed look at the 2018 USPS shipping rate charts.

Shippo is a multi-carrier API and web app that helps retailers, marketplaces and platforms connect to a global network of carriers. Businesses use Shippo to get real-time rates, print labels, automate international paperwork, track packages and facilitate returns. Shippo provides the tools to help businesses succeed through shipping.

Michelle McNamara is a Senior Marketing Manager at Shippo

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