8¢ Mail Order Business
Issue Date: September 27, 1972
City: Chicago, IL
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: 11 x 10 ½
This stamp was issued to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the invention of mail order by Aaron Montgomery Ward (1843-1913). With George R. Thorne, Ward established the first mail order business at Chicago in 1872. Ward conceived of the business while working as a traveling salesman in the Midwest. He wanted to buy large quantities of goods from manufacturers and then sell them to farmers.
Ward’s business began in a livery-stable loft with a total of $2,400 in capital. The company’s catalog was printed on a single sheet of paper and listed only a few dry goods. This business grew to become Montgomery Ward and Company. With its wide offering of goods and services, mail order, as envisioned by Ward, is credited with raising the standard of living for many Americans. This is especially true of Americans living in remote and rural areas. When Ward died, annual sales had risen to $40 million a year.