The ‘Return Receipt’ (RR) Service provides verification to the sender that an article they mailed was delivered. The service began 1 July 1863 and was used for registered mail only until 1 January 1913 when it also was available for insured mail. Until 15 April 1925, no additional special service fee was paid for this service and the penalty clause on the card served to pay the return postage fee.
Delivery is acknowledged through the use of postal form (card in some cases) 3811 which notes to whom the item was delivered and the date. It later included the date of mailing as well. On receiving the item, the recipient signs and dates the return receipt and hands it back to the postal clerk, thereby acknowledging receipt. This service is available to the public, but is also used for ‘Official Business’ mail between government offices which is more desirable and scarcer than commercial use.
The more interesting part of this particular form however is the on the opposite side of the card as the article in question was sent to the Wheeler County Clerk in Fossil, Oregon.
The postal clerk in Fossil applied a 9 bar killer handstamp, dated 23 August 1922 at 9PM, to validate receipt of a registered article number 14167. The instruction to do this is contained in the square box “Postmark of Delivering Office and Date of Delivery.” (It’s interesting that a postal employee would be working that late in such a small town.) This form was then re-mailed, postage paid, under the authority of the “Post Office Department – Official Business” corner card text and penalty clause text in the upper right corner. The form was returned to the original sender in Seattle, Washington.