First Stamp with Mr. Zip in the Selvage 

U.S. #1242 – Mr. Zip’s first postal appearance was in the selvage for this stamp.

On January 10, 1964, Mr. Zip first appeared in the selvage of a stamp sheet honoring Texas icon Sam Houston.

Prior the creation of Zip codes, the US had postal districts or zones for use in larger cities. As towns and cities grew, the Post Office needed a more organized system to help separate the mail. In 1944, postal inspector Robert Moon submitted a proposal calling for a three-digit Zip code to help sort the mail. For this, Moon is often considered the father of the Zip Code, though it wouldn’t be implemented for nearly 20 years.

U.S. #1511 was issued to promote the use of Zip Codes.

Then on July 1, 1963, the Post Office unveiled its new Zip Code system (ZIP stands for Zoning Improvement Plan). In the five-digit codes, the first three numbers represented the sectional center facility, while the last two numbers were often the same as the old postal zone numbers. The introduction of Zip Codes was a big change, and not everyone adapted quickly. And that’s where Mr. Zip comes in.

The design of Mr. Zip is credited to Howard Wilcox, who first created the character for a New York bank’s bank-by-mail campaign. The Post Office Department eventually acquired the rights to the character, changed it slightly, and named him Mr. Zip.

Less than a year after Zip Codes were introduced, Mr. Zip first appeared in the selvage of a US stamp sheet. He was pictured in the bottom left-hand corner of the Sam Houston stamp issued on January 10, 1964. Over the years, Mr. Zip was added to several stamp sheets, leading to a fun new collecting trend. In 1972, the Zippy Collectors Club was created for people collecting stamps with Mr. Zip in the selvage.

U.S. #1242 – Mr. Zip appears in the bottom left corner of this sheet.

Mr. Zip also quickly became infused into American culture. The Post Office was determined to get everyone to use Zip Codes, so they launched a massive advertising campaign. Mr. Zip was featured in newspapers and magazines, TV and radio and was pictured on mail trucks and in post office lobbies.

One of the main goals of Mr. Zip was to appeal to children, so they would grow up knowing to use Zip Codes. Soon Mr. Zip had his very own comic strip and board game. Plus he was pictured on a variety of memorabilia, including a thermos set, and tin bank. In later years he would appear on a toy mail car, toy train, jewelry, clothes, mugs, and have his own bobble head. In the 60s, children were also encouraged to include the North Pole’s Zip Code on their letters to Santa.

U.S. #1511 – Classic First Day Cover picturing Mr. Zip.

Celebrities also lent their talents to the Mr. Zip Campaign. Singer Johnny Puelo did a commercial with Mr. Zip, while Ethel Merman did a promotional jingle to the tune of “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” that was featured in a Mr. Zip commercial.

The Mr. Zip craze lasted nearly 20 years, until the introduction of Zip+4 in 1983. Though he continued to appear in the selvage of a few stamps until 1986. Mr. Zip then reemerged in 2013. That year the USPS picturing Mr. Zip in the selvage of a few stamps to honor the 50th anniversary of the Zip Code system.

U.S. #1511 – Fleetwood First Day Cover picturing Mr. Zip.

Click here for lots more images and history about Mr. Zip from the National Postal Museum.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.



2017: A Year in Review – on Stamps!

Take a look back the major events of 2017 through stamps. And be sure to check back tomorrow for more events and stamps.

On January 21, 2017, some 500,000 people participated in the Women’s March on Washington. Up to 4.6 million people participated in marches around the country, making it the largest single-day protest in US history.
2017 marked the 40th anniversary of the first Star Wars movie. The widely popular franchise also closed out the year with the latest installment in the series, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which was one of the highest-grossing movies of the year.
On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump was inaugurated as America’s 45th president. Seventy years old at the time of his inauguration, he’s America’s oldest president and also the wealthiest and the first to take the office without military or government service. Trump’s policies dominated the news throughout the year.

Are you missing any of the 2017 U.S. stamps? 

Click here to get an affordable set of commemoratives in mint or used condition.

Click here for the Giant 2017 Commemorative Collection that includes all the mint sheets.

Click here for the complete definitive year set in mint or used condition.

Or click here to get the individual 2017 US stamps you need.


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  1. A zip code is something we all take for granted, but its usage in getting the mail on time to the receiver is of paramount importance. Recently a mailed cheque book from my bank took 3 weeks to reach me (what should have been 2 days), courtesy an erroneous manual entry of the zip code.

    1. I vaguely remember the Mr Zip commercials on TV. Nice nostalgia, a big paft of what stamps collecting is all about.

  2. I had forgotten about Mr. Zip even though he was so instrumental in making zip code universally recognized. I would venture to say the majority did not know that zip was an acronym and thought that it was a method of speeding up the mail. Granted it was a vehicle of streamlining delivery and the inference is obvious. It is much the same as Pres. Reagan’s commission against organized crime, RICO was an acronym for….. Never mind, I’ve already said too much. Forget I said that. Don’t know anything about that. Sorry godfather.

  3. I vaguely remember using the old code system when writing address information back in school. Also, if I remember correctly the format was different. Instead of the current City, State, Zip At that time it was City, Code, State. Now with the ZIP + 4, the mail system knows what side of the street your house is on.

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