This 25¢ stamp was part of the new "American Culture" series. It was issued to pay the postage for the first-class, presort letter rate. This stamp supplements supplies of the 'G' letter presort-rate stamp and replaces the 23¢ USA presort-rate coils. Bulk mailers were able to use the non-denominated stamp at various presort rates, with the postage difference being paid at the time of mailing. A self-adhesive version was also produced in 1996 to meet consumer demand. In 1997, two self-adhesive versions were produced, a regular self-adhesive coil and a linerless coil. The face of the stamps of the linerless coil was coated to prevent stamps from sticking to those below them, without using backing paper.
The World's First Jukebox
In the early and mid-1800s, coin-operated music boxes and player pianos grew increasingly popular. Requiring a coin payment, these music devices used paper rolls, metal disks, or metal cylinders to play music on one or more instruments inside the machine.
In the late 1870s a man named Louis Glass grew tired of his job manning telegraph lines for Western Union. So he left his job in search of more exciting prospects. At the time, the telephone was an emerging new technology, so Glass invested in a few California phone companies, ultimately becoming general manager of the Pacific State Telephone and Telegraph Company.
Even as a successful businessman, Glass wasn’t satisfied. He soon caught on to another popular craze of the time, the phonograph. He bought the Pacific Phonograph Company, and several others in California, Washington, and Oregon. Learning more about this new device, Glass had an idea. He and his partner, William S. Arnold, tinkered with the phonograph to create something new. Their new device could play songs from a wax cylinder phonograph, but only if a nickel was inserted into the machine. Because of this, they first called the device, “The nickel-in-the-slot phonograph.” Their first design used an Edison Class M Electric Phonograph with a device they patented as “Coin Actuated Attachment for Phonograph.”
Glass and Arnold installed their new machine in San Francisco’s Palais Royal Saloon on November 23, 1889. Little is known of the events of the day or what followed, as the saloon closed down within a year or so, and the later 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed much of the area. But at an 1890 conference, Glass claimed he’d installed 15 such machines that earned him over $4,000 (about $539,000 today). While Glass is often credited as the creator of the jukebox, there were other inventors working on similar devices in England at around the same time.
As this new device appeared to be so popular, many other businessmen soon developed their own versions. Some included listening tubes (similar to headphones). These early players usually only played one song, so several devices would be set up in one place so people could listen to multiple songs, each on its own machine. It wasn’t until 1918 that Hobart C. Niblack patented a part that could automatically change records. This ultimately led to the first selective jukeboxes in the 1920s.
Although the machines had been around for decades, they didn’t get their popular name until the 1940s. The work jukebox was based on the term “juke joint,” from the Creole word “juke” for disorderly, rowdy, or wicked.
As the years went on, the technology in the machines improved. The machines could hold more and more records, while not taking up as much space. Some machines were fitted with song counters, keeping track of the most-requested songs, so the unpopular ones could be replaced. Early, plain wooden jukeboxes were eventually replaced with stylish lighted, colorful jukeboxes made with marbleized plastic. However, when the U.S. entered World War II metal and plastic were needed for the war effort and no new jukeboxes were made until 1946.
Jukeboxes were at their most popular between the 1940s and 1960s, with about three-quarters of American records eventually being put into jukeboxes. Jukeboxes are still produced and used today, though most used CDs or MP3s, but they often feature the flashy styles and lights of the jukeboxes of the 1950s.
American Culture Series
On March 17, 1995, the USPS issued the first stamps in the American Culture Series.
The stamps in this series were issued in part to meet a new postal rate structure that had been implemented on January 1, 1995. These new rates included a variety of bulk mail discounts, which these stamps were used for.
Under the new rate structure, bulk discounts were offered on the basic 20¢ postcard rate, ranging from 16.3¢ to 18.9¢. Mailers could use the new 20¢ Tail Fin stamp and then pay the difference between what they spent on the stamps and the actual cost of mailing.
This new structure also included a discount off the basic 32¢ first-class rate that ranged from 21.2¢ to 30.5¢. The new 25¢ Jukebox stamp could be used on these envelopes, with the mailers paying or receiving credit for the per-piece difference in postage between the stamp price and the actual cost of the postage. It was used in place of the G-rate stamp and replaced the 23¢ presort rate stamps from 1992 and 1993.
The new 20¢ and 25¢ stamps would be the first issues in the new American Culture Series. In planning the series, the USPS wanted stamps to picture artifacts of America’s popular culture. According to the USPS, “The series tries to take a look at American creativity and at things no other country could claim.” In planning the series, the USPS created a list of items from post World War II America to consider. One USPS official said, “I look on the era of the ’40s and ’50s as a very creative one, and one with a lot of recognizable symbols that have never been on stamps.”
On March 17, 1995, the American Culture Series stamps made their debut at the Postage Stamp Mega-Event at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The two stamps were non-denominated coils for price-discounted bulk mail. The 15¢ stamp picturing an auto tail fin was issued for presorted first-class postcards. The 25¢ jukebox stamp would be used on presorted first-class letter mail.
Both stamps were produced by two different printers, so there were two varieties of each stamp made available that day. The stamps printed by the BEP have the year printed smaller in an aqua color, while the Stamp Venturers’ have the date larger and black.
The American Culture Series continued until 2003, with a total of 16 stamps issued. Click on the other images below to learn more about them and to order them for your collection.