The History of the Cost of Postage in 1972

The History of the Cost of Postage in 1972
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As of February 2022, the cost of a first-class, 1-ounce postal stamp from the United States Postal Service, or USPS, is ​58 cents​, while postcard stamps are priced at ​40 cents​. In 1972, first-class and postcard stamps were respectively priced at only ​8 and 10 cents​, a difference of up to 50 cents from the 2022 price. However, when you take inflation and the cost of living into account, the rate of first-class stamps is relatively unchanged.

Original Stamp Prices

In 1972, the price of a first-class, 8-cent postage stamp did not change during the entire calendar period. However, postage stamp prices were increased by the USPS four times throughout the 1970s, from ​6 to 8 cents​ on May 16, 1971, and from ​13 to 15 cents​ on May 29, 1978.

The other two price jumps occurred on March 2, 1974, which included an ​8 cents to 10 cent​ increase, and December 31, 1975, which introduced a ​10 cents to 13 cents​ jump. After 1978, the 15-cent standard price remained until 1981, when it rose to ​18 cents​.

Original Postcard Prices

The 1972 USPS first-class stamp was priced at ​6 cents​, but like the standard stamp, no changes in cost were announced that year. There were four postcard stamp increases and one decrease in the 1970s; on May 16, 1971, postcards increased from ​5 to 6 cents​, and on March 2, 1974, to ​8 cents​.

On September 14, 1975, an unusual decrease occurred that dropped the stamp to ​7 cents​, but this was altered on December 31, 1975 with a jump to ​9 cents​, and it increased again on May 29, 1978, from ​9 cents to 10 cents​. The price remained at 10 cents until 1981, when an increase to ​12 cents​ occurred.

Additional Per-Ounce Requirement

In 1972, postage stamps were priced based on the weight of the posted letter, but each additional ounce was equal to the initial stamp price. For example, a 2-ounce parcel would be two times the cost of the then-current 8-cent stamp, or ​16 cents​.

On September 14, 1975, the USPS introduced an additional per-ounce policy, which saved consumers more on heavier packages. The ​10 cent​ price still applied for the first ounce, but additional ounces only cost ​9 cents​ more per ounce.

CPI and 1972 Stamp Prices

In the U.S., the consumer price index, or CPI, measures the changes that occur in pricing as inflation and other economical factors alter the value of the dollar over time. According to a 2021 CPI study on the Johnston's Archive website, an 8-cent postal stamp in 1972 would cost roughly ​51 cents​ in 2021, which is 7 cents less than the current stamp price of 58 cents.

In other words, the price of a stamp in 1972, with inflation taken into account, was nearly the same as its price in 2021/2022.