Mr. ZIP is turning 50 on Monday, July 1. On July 1,1963, the Postal Service adopted the popular cartoon figure as the trademark for the Zoning Improvement Plan, or
ZIP Code, to better handle increasing mail volume.
Mr. ZIP was not always postal. Harold Wilcox, son of a letter carrier and member of the Cunningham and Walsh advertising agency, created Mr. ZIP for use in a bank-by-mail campaign by Chase Manhattan Bank. Wilcox's design was a childlike sketch of a postman delivering a letter. The figure was used only a few times, and then filed away. The American Telephone and Telegraph Company acquired the design from the Cunningham and Walsh agency and made it available to the Post Office Department without cost. Post Office Department artists retained the face, sharpened the limbs and torso, and added a mail bag.
Today, the use of ZIP Codes extends far beyond the mailing industry, and they are a fundamental component in the nation's 911 emergency system.
For more information, including links to Mr. ZIP video and audio clippings, please see the attached news release. You also can obtain Mr. ZIP history and clip art at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum at http://www.postalmuseum.si.edu/zipcodecampaign/p4.html.
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