Notes from the Past

National One Cent Letter Postage Association

The National One Cent Letter Postage Association was an organization devoted to the lowering of the US first-class letter rate from 2¢ to 1¢.  It was founded in 1912 by Charles W. burrows, who had retired from the family bookselling and stationery business to devote his time to the campaign to lower first-class postal rate according to James C. Czyl of the S. Allan Taylor society.  Burrows and his supporters believed that the 2¢ letter rate was not fair that first-class users were subsidizing users of the second-class rate.  The first-class rate had been 2¢ since 1885 and the second-class rates was 1¢ per pound.  The organization had offices in Cleveland, Ohio, and it published circulars and pamphlets in support of its aim.

In addition to a special cachet, Burrows had stamp-like labels prepared supporting his cause.  The inscription on these labels reads "ONE | CENT | LETTER | POSTAGE" in the center, with "HALF YOUR LETTER | POSTAGE IS A TAX" at the top and "ADDRESS NATIONAL ONE | CENT LETTER POSTAGE | ASSOCIATION | CLEVELAND,O." at the bottom.  These were printed in red on white paper and were given free for use on member's stationery.  Although they looked rather like postage stamps, there were not intended to be used for that purpose.  Nonetheless, some people did so use them, and they got away with it!

There are three varieties of the labels:  red lettering on white in the tablets on top and bottom; white lettering on a red background in both tablets; and a coil version with white lettering on red at the top and red lettering on white at the bottom.  There is also a variety of the red lettering on white, in which "CLEVELAND,O." is 12mm in length instead of 10mm.

Burrows prepared a cacheted cover, which he used for his mailings and which provides information on the aims of the organization.  An inscription partially covered by a cancellation reads: "This one cent stamp pays cost of service on this letter.  Had we sealed it, the other cent would have been a contribution to the publisher's subsidy.
If you don't understand, write us."

Burrows continued his fight until 1925, when he finally gave up and disbanded the association.  He died seven years later in 1932. 


- Kenneth A. Wood
This is Philately - Volume Two G-P
Van Dahl Publications 1982
Posted September 25, 2000

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