US #FA1 – The Certified Mail stamp pictures a letter carrier.

On June 6, 1955, the US Post Office issued its first and only Certified Mail stamp, US #FA1.  The stamp gave mail special protection and provided the sender with proof of delivery.

The US first implemented a registered letter system on July 1, 1855.  For the next 56 years, mailers could pay the registration fee, which ranged from five to twenty cents over these years, with cash or stamps.

Though there wasn’t a Registered Mail stamp issued during this time, there were Post Office Seals, also known as Official Seals.  They had no franking power, meaning they didn’t pay for the delivery of mail, but they did serve an important purpose.  The first official seals had one specific role: to seal large “registered packages” containing registered letters that were being transported, thereby preventing tampering with this very secure class of mail.

1872 Registry Seal
US #OXF1 – 1872 Registry Seal

Then on December 1, 1911, the Post Office issued US #F1, America’s first and only Registration stamp for the prepayment of registry fees.  This new stamp could only be used to pay the registry fee and was not valid for regular postage.  When used in addition to regular postage, this stamp provided special care and handling for an extra fee for a letter or package.  Upon receiving the item, the addressee was required to sign a receipt.

US #F1 – 1911 Registration stamp

There was some confusion among users and postal clerks around these stamps, which led to their misuse.  As a result, the postmaster general abolished the Registration stamp in 1913, but allowed the remaining stock to be used up. After that, the registration fee could be paid by using regular postage stamps.

Then in 1955 the US Post Office announced that it would issue a new Certified Mail stamp.  According to the postmaster general at the time, “Certified Mail, a new service of the Post Office Department designed to give mail patrons most of the advantages of registered mail but at a lower cost and less trouble.”

US #FA1 – Certified Mail Classic First Day Cover

Certified Mail service officially began on June 6, 1955 with the issue of #FA1.  It could be used on first class mail for which the sender claimed no insurance, but wanted proof of delivery.  Certified Mail is a form of registration – it gives mail special protection and provides the sender with proof of delivery.  This was used in addition to the regular postage and required the recipient to sign for his letter or package upon delivery.

No additional Certified Mail stamps were ever issued after #FA1, but regular definitive stamps were often used to pay the fee.

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  1. Can’t say I remember this one being released, I was only five at the time, but I do have a MNH example in my collection.

  2. Maybe they just intended to issue the one stamp to promote certified mail. It was dropped rather quickly. In my collection I consider the Priority and Express Mail stamps as a continuation of the Special Delivery section in the BOB (not BYOB). And the International mail stamps as a contnuation of the international air mail stamps. It’s all in the naming. Now “non-machinable” is a horse (or should I say butterfly) of a different color.

  3. Nice info but again – today is the anniversary of D-Day. Feel there’s something a bit more important there.

    1. Mystic Thank You very much for the great information D Day or any day. Your amazing. I always look forward of all this valuable material to enhance and bring out each and every stamp!

  4. Very good, Mr ‘Chip’ that you remember The Battle of Midway: June 4th, 1942. This battle is also associated, or tied to The Battle of The Coral Sea.
    And yes, how can the Western World forget DDay, the Greatest Sea and Land
    Invasion in HISTORY!!

  5. The certified mail stamp is one of my favorites as that is exactly what my child hood postman looked like with his leather bag walking house to house.

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