US Stamps

1957 Christmas greeting pokes fun at U.S. Post Office Department

Nov 21, 2023, 12 PM
The reply half of a 1924 2¢ international-rate Lady Liberty paid reply postal card mailed in September 1957 is shown front and back. The illustration on the back pokes fun at the U.S. Post Office Department with a Christmas greeting theme.

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

The postal service in the United States — the U.S. Post Office Department until 1971 when it became the U.S. Postal Service — has been one of those institutions of government that is subject to a great volume of criticism.

Deliver 1,000 letters on time to the correct addresses, and there is never a peep from the customers. But screw up one letter, and we, the public, bay like a wounded hyena. I hasten to add that I am as guilty of this as the next guy.

So joking at the expense of the post office finds a ready audience, despite the fact that the USPS ranks at or near the top in favorability ratings of government entities.

Today’s poke in the Post Office Department’s eye is the postal card shown front and back here.

The front of the postal card is the reply half of a 1924 2¢ international-rate Lady Liberty paid reply postal card (Scott UY11). It was canceled on Sept. 9, 1957, by a mailer’s postmark permit.

A note on the front from the sender suggests that the card will be the first 1957 Christmas card the recipient will get.

The back of the card shows a comic illustration in Christmas red and green that is headed “Delayed Mail.” The card may be a holdover from a prior year because “Delayed Mail” wouldn’t apply to the 1957 Christmas season.

In the illustration, the piles of mail around the outhouse labeled “Postal Employees Only” suggest anything but an efficient, smoothly running organization.

The postman is holding what might be a catalog titled “rears roebust,” evidently a take-off on Sears, Roebuck.

The illustration paints an unflattering, if mostly inaccurate, picture. But we all get a chuckle out of it. Maybe this is a situation where “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” applies.

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