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Mr. ZIP on a 1963 U.S. Post Office sign.

Mr. ZIP, informally "Zippy", is a cartoon character used in the 1960s by the United States Post Office Department, and later by its successor, the United States Postal Service, to encourage the general public to include the ZIP code in all mailings.

Origins[edit]

The USPS has described the origin of Mr. ZIP as follows:[1]

Mr. ZIP was based on an original design by Howard Wilcox, son of a letter carrier and a member of the Cunningham and Walsh advertising agency, for use by a New York bank in a bank-by-mail campaign. Wilcox's design was a child-like sketch of a postman delivering a letter. The figure was used only a few times, then filed away. Later, AT&T acquired the design and made it available to the Post Office Department at no cost. ... Miami-based Post Office Department artist Joe Lawrence retained the face but sharpened the limbs and torso and added a mail bag. The new figure, who Lawrence had dubbed Mr. ZIP, was unveiled at a convention of postmasters in October 1962.

Post Office use[edit]

Zippy attached to a 1966 Mary Cassatt stamp.

The Post Office had little difficulty in getting mass mailers to use the ZIP Code as it could make its inclusion a condition for receiving preferential mailing rates and soon did. However, there was some resistance by the general public, members of whom would mail items without ZIP Code, almost invariably at the full rate for First Class Mail, which by regulation had to be delivered if at all possible and feasible. This was particularly true of older mailers. Mr. ZIP was the Post Office's answer to this, apparently intended to teach small children to always use the ZIP Code as they got older and also to encourage their parents and grandparents to do so.

Mr. ZIP is a caricature of a mail carrier, wide-eyed and drawn with his letter bag trailing him in such a way as to imply his travelling at extreme speed, and sometimes holding on to his hat with his free hand. His hair was straight, but his skin was somewhat orange, making him non racially-identifiable. His limbs were very thin, almost like those of a stick figure. He was particularly used on posters promoting ZIP Code use. The character was largely phased out by the late 1970s, but the Post Office retained rights to the copyrighted figure.

Mr. ZIP appeared on the selvage (non-postally valid areas) of stamp panes (more commonly called "sheets") for many stamp issues, beginning with the 5 cent Sam Houston stamp issued January 10, 1964, although the 5¢ Battle of the Wilderness stamp of May 5, 1964, is sometimes listed as the "first" because it appears earlier in most stamp catalogs due to its inclusion in a five-issue Civil War series. He also appeared on non-postally-valid labels inside, or on the cover of, stamp booklets. Stamp collectors sometimes collect the corner block of four stamps with the part of the selvage bearing Mr. ZIP; these are called "ZIP blocks". Mr. ZIP appeared in the blank selvage of United States stamps until January 1986.[1]

The Post Office re-introduced Mr. ZIP to stamps in 2013, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ZIP Code system.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Mr. ZIP- The nation’s original ‘digital’ icon
  2. ^ 5 Digits, 50 Years: The Triumphant Return of Mr. ZIP

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr._ZIP — Please support Wikipedia.
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233 news items

 
Printing Impressions (press release)
Fri, 08 May 2015 12:00:23 -0700

It's time to play Follow the Bouncing Mr. ZIP. The USPS has finally gotten its way after the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) approved the balance of the market dominant price changes. They will take effect May 31, which is a Sunday. For those of you ...
 
Talking Chop
Fri, 01 May 2015 11:40:29 -0700

So, congratulations, Mr. Zip. You might be the league's most reviled player and kind of look like a less affable, miniature Jim Thome when you step up to the plate, but you were this team's best position player in April 2015. And that's worth something ...

OK! Magazine

OK! Magazine
Sat, 09 May 2015 13:46:10 -0700

Next up was DJ John, who echoed similarities to Mr Zip, who became an internet sensation following his performance of "Where My Keys, Where My Phone". DJ John failed to impress Simon with his dance to a song that he didn't make himself [ITV].

Cumbria Crack

Cumbria Crack
Wed, 13 May 2015 23:45:00 -0700

The event kicked off at Kendal Leisure Centre at 8pm with live entertainment provided by Danny Matthews and the Bay Radio team alongside special guest Mr Zip from Britain's Got Talent. StarWalkers then formed a giant conga line as they made their way ...

The Chattanoogan

The Chattanoogan
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 19:37:30 -0700

Crime Stoppers and the Chattanooga Police Department are seeking information regarding a robbery from Mr. Zip at 1905 Gunbarrel Road, Chattanooga. The clerk was stocking the cooler when the suspect entered the store wearing a red hoodie, red ...
 
The Smart Set
Wed, 12 Jun 2013 09:37:22 -0700

Mr. Zip — a hand-drawn, wide-eyed little postal guy — became the face of ZIP code promotional efforts, the embodiment of the harmless yet zippy quality of ZIP codes. ('Mr. Zip' was also a significant improvement on Mr. Zip's original name “Mr. P.O ...
 
Smithsonian (blog)
Tue, 15 Nov 2011 13:52:33 -0800

With a dashing gait and a child's smile, Mr. Zip's presence in advertisements, post offices, and on mail trucks linked the idea of quickness to a cheerful, human face. “These homey touches were to help people look at the ZIP Code not as a threatening ...
 
CSPnet.com
Mon, 06 Aug 2012 14:45:00 -0700

Ken Lewis, manager of the Mr. Zip convenience stores that have been acquired by Fort Worth, Texas-based Textron Energy, a subsidiary of Classic Star Group LP, told CSP Daily News that the Zuber family, which owns Mr. Zip Inc. of Tennessee, is exiting ...
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