The International Reply Coupon
October 23, 2008 12:06 AM Subscribe
"When one writes to a stranger and requests a reply, it is considered polite to enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope. This works well when both persons live in the same country; however, if they are from different countries, the enclosed postage stamp will not be valid."
The solution, introduced in 1906, was the international reply coupon
. Like nearly everything else stamps-related, they are collectible
. Brought to you by the Universal Postal Union
In the US, for the low price of $2.10
[as of posting date] you can get your hands on one of these beauties
, which on the back reads "This coupon is exchangeable in any country of the Universal Postal Union for for the minimum postage for an unregistered priority item or an unregistered letter sent by air to a foreign country." in a variety of languages including Arabic and Chinese (the obverse is entirely in French).
Their use, at least in the United States, is relatively rare and this occasionally causes problems when they are needed
Interesting historic side note: they were the inspiration for the first Ponzi scheme