1913 50¢ Dairying
Issue Date: March 15,1913
City: Washington, DC
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Engraved
Color: Carmine rose
In 1912, the U.S. Postal Department introduced parcel post service for sending items weighing 16 ounces or more through the mail. The mail is divided into four classes, with parcel post making up the fourth class. Almost any type of merchandise can be mailed parcel post, including day – old chicks, baby alligators, and honeybees. Only items that could be dangerous to handle cannot be sent through Parcel Post. Rural Americans used the new mail class to access goods and merchandise they could not have gotten before, giving rise to mail order giants like Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Montgomery Ward and Co.
Twelve stamps with various denominations were issued in 1912-13 to prepay the fourth-class rate. Although different vignette designs were featured, all twelve stamps used the same border and color, which caused a great deal of confusion for postal workers.
The 50¢ Parcel Post Stamp
The four Parcel Post stamps with the highest denomination feature manufacturing and agriculture. This stamp was originally supposed to picture the steel mill that was used for the 25¢ stamp. Instead it shows dairy cows contentedly grazing, with a farm in the background. This design was adapted from a Department of Agriculture photograph. Because of the change in design, the issue of these stamps was delayed until March 13,1913, and about 2 million of them were printed.
Because of the confusion, the Postmaster General authorized ordinary postage for use on parcel post less than a year later. Parcel post stamps were then made valid for all classes of mail and were used as regular postage until the supply was depleted.