This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
The duties of mailing clerks are varied according to the departments in which they are employed, as for instance: To open all packages of letters addressed to that office, to count and compare them with the post-bill accompanying the package and to check any error in the bill: to file the bill, and send the letters to the letter-carriers' department, the general delivery, the box-delivery, the registry office or the money-order office, as may be necessary for their proper care and safe delivery.
If the office is a "distributing post-office," letters for various other places within the distributing limits of the office are sorted, billed, repacked and forwarded to their proper destination by mail.
Some of the clerks sort out newspapers and periodicals, and send them to the proper delivery, or mail them for other points. Newspapers and periodicals for other newspapers and periodicals within the delivery of that office are sent to the "exchange clerks," to be sorted and properly distributed; so, also, transient newspapers and periodicals are sorted and sent to the proper deliveries in the post-office.
Other clerks receive, sort, stamp, bill and mail letters designed for other places. Others receive, examine and mail transient packages of newspapers and periodicals directed to other post-offices. Others receive regular daily, weekly and other newspapers and periodicals sent from publishing houses direct to subscribers, exchanges, etc., weigh them, to ascertain the amount of postage to be prepaid by the publishers, and send the accounts to the proper officer, after which such papers and periodicals can be forwarded by mail to any part of the country without further charge to the publishers or subscribers.
Delivery clerks receive domestic and foreign letters, newspapers, periodicals not directed to any special box, street or number. These go into the general delivery, to be there called for by their owners. Other letters and papers, directed to a specified box, are placed in that box to remain until called for.
In large offices there is a wholesale stamp department and a retail stamp department. In the first, stamps are sold to merchants and others by the sheet, or in greater quantities; stamped envelopes by the package or larger quantity, and postal cards by packages or hundreds.
In the retail department sales extend from a single one-cent stamp to a dozen or more of any required sorts'. In this department, also, the clerk weighs transient packages to be sent by mail, to ascertain the required amount of postage to be prepaid, if requested so to do.
The superintendent of free delivery is placed in charge of the letter-carriers and their work. He sees that letters are promptly and properly sorted by the clerks for the branch offices or the various letter-carriers.
One or more clerks are stationed in the general delivery to promptly and carefully assort and deliver the letters and papers, domestic and foreign, sent to their department. In some offices there is a foreign-letter delivery, conducted like the ordinary general delivery. When letters remain a designated time in the general delivery uncalled for, they are advertised in some public newspaper, kept a certain time longer, and are then forwarded to the dead-letter office of the Post-Office Department at Washington.
All letters not properly directed for mailing, or on which the postage is not prepaid, are also sent to the dead-letter office at stated periods. In the box-delivery, clerks are stationed to wait upon those who call for the contents of their boxes, and properly distribute whatever mail-matter is sent to their department. Those persons who rent lock-boxes and drawers wait upon themselves, having the proper keys to their respective compartments of this delivery.
For the greater security of valuable mail-matter, the Postmaster-General established a uniform system for the registration of letters. Mail-matter can only be registered on the application of the party who posts the same, and the fee for registration, in addition to the regular postage, is ten cents, to be in all cases prepaid. The registry clerk in the post-office gives the person registering the letter a receipt for it, properly describing it. The letter is classified on the books of the office sending it as a registered letter; it is then carefully mailed to the postmaster at the post-office to which it is directed; is classified there as a registered letter, and delivered to the person to whom it is addressed only upon his giving a receipt therefor as a registered letter. The proper number of clerks is detailed to the registered-letter department of a large office by the postmaster thereof. In smaller offices the postmaster and his ordinary clerks attend to the registration of letters, as they are presented, and the delivery thereof whenever they arrive.
In order to promote public convenience, and to insure greater security in the transfer of money through the mails, the Postmaster-General has established and maintains, under rules and regulations which he deems expedient, a uniform money-order system at all suitable post-offices, Known as "money-order offices." The postmaster of every city where branch post-offices are in operation subject to his supervision, is authorized, under the direction of the Postmaster-General, to issue, or cause to be issued, by his clerks and assistants in charge of such branch offices or stations, postal money-orders, payable at his own or at any other money-order office, or at any branch post-office or station of his own or any other money-order office, as the remitters thereof may direct; and the postmaster and his sureties are, in every case, held account-able upon his official bond for all moneys received by him or his designated assistants or clerks in charge of stations, from the issue of money-orders, and for all moneys which may come into his or their hands, or be placed in his or their custody by reason of the transaction by them of money-order business.