Category: Don’t Judge

How stamps worked before forever stamps

Our 23 year old daughter is an extremely bright, witty and charming child (young adult, millennial, whatever). She lives with my husband and I, as she is attending college and is a pre-med student. Hooray! I often tell her to stop aiming so damn high- it’s expensive AF! Relax – she knows I’m kidding. We are very proud of her. But back to my story about the 3 cent stamp. A story that left me (and still leaves me) “baffled, bewildered and befuddled”. Is that how the song goes? Although at the time It sure felt like I was being bamboozled, beguiled and bullshitted.

As I stumbled down the stairs the other morning (no, I mean I literally stumbled. The jackass cat likes to sit on the bottom stair and right as my foot is in mid air to step around him he moves. Every.single.time…jerk). So I for real stumbled down the stairs and I noticed an envelope next to the front door. That’s where I usually leave the rare piece of outgoing mail for my husband to mail on his way to work. The only thing was… I didn’t put any mail there! Duh duh duh!

Upon closer inspection I see that my daughter was mailing something. How adorable!! She had written the address AND return address in a somewhat correct format, and up in the right hand corner of the envelope she had not only FOUND a stamp, but she had put it in the correct loca….wait. WTF?

3 cent stamps

The stamp on the envelope looked weird. No wonder – upon closer inspection, I realized that it was a 3 cent stamp. Well I had a lot of questions. But she was still sleeping. It must have been an oversight on her part. I waited for her to wake up (like any good mother would do), although I wanted to chuck a shoe across her room to make a little noise, but I didn’t. I vacuumed the living room instead.


What kind of mother would I be if I let her go through life not knowing how the whole frustrating stamp system used to work?

When she finally awoke on her own {*snicker*}, I approached her {cautiously}, and here is how our conversation went down:

Me: Mornin’ Sunshine. You have some mail going out?
Daughter: Mmmm hmmm
Me: Did you know that you only have a 3 cent stamp on it?
Daughter: Yeah
Me: (Silence)
Daughter: (Staring at me)
Me: Well it costs much more than 3 cents to mail a letter
Daughter: Like how much?
Me: Well I don’t even know anymore – somewhere around 50 cents by now I guess, but there are forever stamps in the drawer. Just put one of bad boys on the envelope and it will cover the cost of a regular letter. They are good forever, no matter how much postal prices increase. Neat, huh?
Daughter {semi-rolling her eyes}: Well then why do we have 3 cent stamps?
Me (thinking to myself: Oh gawddd this poor child. And poor me. This just turned into a whole thing. How could she not know this?? Did she really think a 3 cent stamp would work??).
Me out loud: Well because we didn’t always have forever stamps. Stamps used to have a set price…say like 32 cents.
Daughter: And so… why do we have 3 cent stamps in our drawer?
Me: Hold on. I’m getting there.
Daughter: (Big sigh).

She really doesn’t give a shit – I can just tell. But she NEEDS to know this stuff. What kind of mother would I be if I let her go through life not knowing how the whole frustrating stamp system used to work?

Me: So years and years ago, stamps were one price. The prices started increasing 2 or 3 cents every year or so, which was a pain in the ass. So if the price went up say 3 cents, the post office would sell 3 cent stamps too and so you’d put a regular stamp PLUS a 3 cent stamp on your envelope to equal the new stamp price. Or if the price went up 2 cents, you’d need a 2 cent stamp. BUT if the post office was out of 2 cent stamps, let’s say, then you’d have to buy a bunch of 1 cent stamps and put two on your envelope along with the existing stamp. Or you could put a 3 cent stamp on and just bite the extra cost.
Daughter: That’s really lame
Me: I know! And so the lines at the post office were always REALLY long for a few days while everybody bought the 3 cent stamps. Those who were smart planned ahead and bought their stamps in advance.
Daughter: you should have bought them onli…oh right (eye roll)
Moi: Imagine what it was like over the course of a few years! We had a drawer full of every stamp denomination imaginable, because there were always leftovers from years before when prices increased. It was never ending!
Daughter: That’s stupid
Me: And that, my friend, is why we have 3 cent stamps in the drawer.


Me: Yep. And you’re welcome.
Daughter: Good thing you caught that mom
Me: If you dig a little deeper I guarantee you will also find some 1 cent, 2 cent, and other oddball cent stamps too.
Daughter: (Eyeroll)

How did she not know all of this?
We didn’t always have it easier back in our day…

How much is is postage for a letter?

Okay I just had to look it up. Postage is now 55 cents to send a letter! Ridiculous!

I was curious, so a little bit ago, I looked in the drawer (because my little darling truly just doesn’t care enough to take a gander), and lookie what I found in there:

1 cent stamps

I knew it! I knew I’d find some old stamps hanging around.

My daughter asked me what I’m going to do with them. I told her I didn’t know, but I would probably just hang on to them. She said, “Why don’t you just throw them away?”. Whatttt? “Because, hon, they are worth money. Those little amounts add up” {of course I have no idea where to go to turn them into cash}. She let out a big sigh, and left the room, completely exasperated.

Do you have any old stamps hanging around, or is it just me? Please don’t say it’s just me!