| Share
 

U.S. Letter Rates Since the Civil War

The first U.S. postage stamps were issued on July 1, 1847. At that time, postal rates varied by distance traveled—under 300 miles, letters cost 5 cents per 1/2 oz; over 300 miles, letters cost 10 cents per 1/2 oz. (These rates fluctuated in the decade that followed.) Until prepayment became mandatory on April 1, 1855, Americans had the option to pay collect, which could entail higher rates. Since July 1, 1863, letters sent to all parts of the United States have been charged at the same rate.

Date Price per Ounce
July 1, 1863  3 cents per 1/2 oz.
Oct. 1, 1883  2 cents per 1/2 oz.
July 1, 1885  2 cents per 1 oz.
Nov. 2, 1917  3 cents per 1 oz.*
July 1, 1919  2 cents per 1 oz.
July 6, 1932  3 cents per 1 oz.
Aug. 1, 1958  4 cents per 1 oz.
Jan. 7, 1963  5 cents per 1 oz.
Jan. 7, 1968  6 cents per 1 oz.
May 16, 1971  8 cents per 1 oz.
March 2, 1974 10 cents per 1 oz.
Dec. 31, 1975 13 cents for 1st oz.**
May 29, 1978 15 cents for 1st oz.
March 22, 1981 18 cents for 1st oz.
Nov. 1, 1981 20 cents for 1st oz.
Feb. 17, 1985 22 cents for 1st oz.
April 3, 1988 25 cents for 1st oz.
Feb. 3, 1991 29 cents for 1st oz.
Jan. 1, 1995 32 cents for 1st oz.
Jan. 10, 1999 33 cents for 1st oz.
Jan. 7, 2001 34 cents for 1st oz.
June 30, 2002 37 cents for 1st oz.
Jan. 8, 2006 39 cents for 1st oz.
May 14, 2007 41 cents for 1st oz.
May 12, 2008 42 cents for 1st oz.
May 11, 2009 44 cents for 1st oz.
Jan. 23, 2012 45 cents for 1st oz.
Jan. 27, 2013 46 cents for 1st oz.
Jan. 27, 2014 49 cents for 1st oz.
*A temporary cost increase to aid the war effort. **Since Dec. 31, 1975, weight in excess of one oz has been charged at a lower rate. For instance, the current rate is 41 cents for the first oz and 17 cents for each additional oz.

Information Please® Database, © 2014 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

Postal Regulations

24 X 7

Private Tutor

Click Here for Details
24 x 7 Tutor Availability
Unlimited Online Tutoring
1-on-1 Tutoring