John Wanamaker

QUESTION: While serving as Postmaster General, John Wanamaker started what program that continues to this day?
A). Commemorative stamps
B). Air mail service
C). Overnight delivery
D). Adhesive stamps

Yesterday, the American Treasure Tour blog celebrated our adoption of Rudi the Wanamaker's Bear, but we really didn't have a chance to talk about the man without whom the Wanamaker Department Store would have happened: John Wanamaker. The Philadelphia native was born into modesty in 1838 in the then-rural community of Grey's Ferry. He was only twenty-three when he opened his first store adjoining the site of the house George Washington lived in when he was President of the United States. His approach to retail was highly unorthodox for the time: "One price and goods returnable." He is not accredited with creating the return policy, but he does receive credit for creating the price tag. No haggling, no question. And people liked it. By the Centennial Exhibition of 1876, Wanamaker opened Philadelphia's first "department store" in an abandoned railway station next to City Hall, eventually tearing it down and replacing it in 1911 with the structure still there to this day.

The Wanamaker Department Store is twelve stories tall with a Grand Court in its center dominated by two iconic pieces, both brought to Philadelphia after another world's fair - this one the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri: their 2,500 pound eagle and their majestic pipe organ. In 1874, Wanamaker took out a half-page advertisement in a newspaper, the first businessman to do that. Five years later, he expanded to a full ad. Wanamaker's success was such that he owned eight homes across the United States and in Europe, but he also engaged in philanthropic causes as well, notably funding a homeless shelter and soup kitchen that continues to help the unfortunate to this day, and supporting Anna Jarvis' quest to create a nationally-recognized Mother's Day. He added politics to his resume in 1889 and became Postmaster General under President Benjamin Harrison, initiating the free rural postal service. Hardly one of the late-19th century robber barons, Wanamaker was definitely one of America's nouveau riche, and the impact he made on the way people buy things is undeniable.

ANSWER:  A). Commemorative stamps