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WASHINGTON, D. C., May 13, 1885. SIR: The undersigned, a commission designated by your order of April 1, 1885, to investigate the affairs of the division of post office supplies, Office of the First Assistant Postmaster General, beg leave to advise you that they entered upon the performance of that duty on the day your order was written, and have continued their labors without intermission util the present time; and they have the honor to submit the following report of the result thereof.

In pursuance of the terms of your order we have inquired into the transactions of the division in question during the last two fiscal years, commencing with July 1, 1883, and for convenience of statement will treat separately in this report of certain portions of the work of the division under the following heads:

(1) Wrapping paper, twine, letter-balances, and marking and rating stamps.

(2) Stationery for the Post-Office Department.
(3) Stationery for first and second class post offices.

As far as practicable the report will follow in subject matter the order laid down in your instructions to the commission.


The superintendent of the division personally keeps a ledger account with the contractors for furnishing wrapping paper, twine, balances, and stamps, sbowing upon the debit side the dates of orders upon the contractors, the quantities ordered, and the prices of the same; and upon the credit side the gross quantities received (partial shipments not being entered), the dates on which the bills are passed to the Auditor for payment, and the amounts to be paid. He also keeps a personal account, charging himself with supplies ordered as shown by his accounts with the contractors, and crediting himself with disbursements of stock as shown by records kept in other portions of his division. These records consist of

(1) A stamp account.-- This is not in the nature of a ledger account with each post-oflice, but is a simple alphabetically arranged list of the names of those post-offices to which marking and rating stamps are furnished, the description of stamp sent, and the date of mailing. The entries in this record are not aggregated.

(2) A record of letter balances and scales.—This book is exactly similar in character to the account of marking and rating stamps.

(3) A record of tuine and wrapping paper. This also is a simple list of names of post-offices and the quantities of wrapping-paper and twine furnished. It contains, however, only the names of ottices that have been furnished with not less than one ream of wrapping-paper and ten pounds of twine, and the entries are not aggregated. The Superintendent submits once each quarter to the First Assistant 6755 PMG-5


Postmaster General a sunmary of the receipts and disbursements of the above mentionell articles, as shown by his personal account.

The stationery clerk has charge of the records of stationery for the Post Office Department. The only record of orders upon the contractors is a rough blotter containing brief entries. A stock-book is kept, showing, under the head of each item number on the schedule, the gross quantities of that item received from the contractor, and the cost thereof, and the gross quantities (with the cost thereof) disbursed each quarter to each Bureau of the Department. These entries of disbursements are made but once each quarter, from an abstract which may be termed a “tally-sheet” of the requisitions from the Bureau.

There is also a record of orders upon the contractors for furnishing stationery for the use of first and second class post-offices, and a stock. book showing the quantities in gross of goods of each kind received and the cost thereof. The gross quantities and cost of stationery furnished to all such post offices during the six months ended December 31, 1883, have been entered in this book, but since that time no record has been kept of disbursements of this stock, and no ledger account has been opened with any post office. Furthermore, the entries of

. stock received since July 1, 1884, bad not been made when we commenced our inspection, and at our request they were completed within a few days thereafter.

All sacks of wrapping paper and twine dispatched from the mailing room are recorded in a book kept for the purpose. This serves, in a measure, as a check upon the larger quantities of these goods shipped.

The accounts kept in connection with the Government Printing Office work will be specially mentioned hereafter.

During the last two fiscal years contracts have been made by the
Postmaster General as follows:

(1) For wrapping paper.
(2) For cotton twine.
(3) For jute twine.
(4) For hemp twine.

(5) For marking and rating stamps (three contracts each year for stamps of various kinds).

(6) For letter balances and scales.

(7) For 107 items of stationery (various contracts) for the use of the Post Office Department, 1883–84.

(8) For 76 items of stationery (various contracts) for the use of first and second class post-offices, 1883–84.

(9) For 102 items of stationery (various contracts) for the use of the Post Office Department, 1884–85.

(10) For 78 items of stationery (various contracts) for the use of first and second class post-offices, 1884-'85.

Complete lists are herewith submitted (marked Exhibit A) showing the name of each contractor, the description of the article or articles furnished, and the contract price thereof.

When your commission was prepared to commence its investigation as to the manner in which contracts for supplies have been executed, inquiry was made for the contract samples submitted by bidders during the last two years. We were informed that the samples for the year ended June 30, 1884, had not been preserved beyond the contract period, they having been considered as of no further value. In the absence of these indispensable articles, which must form the basis of any inquiry such as we were instructed and proposed to make, we were unable to ascertain in what manner the contracts for 1883–84 had been carried

Had these samples been on hand, it would hardly have been possible to identify therewith the goods received last year. We took charge, however, of the contract samples for the current fiscal year and carefully compared therewith articles taken at random from the stock on hand. It should be stated that, in the case of many items upon the stationery schedules, no samples had been required from the bidders, the goods bid for being of well-known and standard grades or brands. The accompanying schedules (marked Exhibit B) show the items for wbich no samples were found.

In addition to this comparison we selected from the contract samples specimens of all papers and envelopes, and obtained from the stock on band specimens of similar papers and envelopes, and made a careful, thorough test of the tensile strength and thickness of each upon a machine specially constructed for testing paper which is in possession of the stamp division, office of the Third Assistant Postmaster-General. We furthermore weighed quantities of all the papers, including the wrapping paper, tested the strength and yardage of the twines, and generally used all the available means known to us to gain information as to the quality of the goods received and accepted from contractors. The results of the comparisons and tests are summarized below, all articles not sperially mentioned having been found equal or superior to the contract samples: Comparison of goods in stock with the contract samples. Stationery for the Department.

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* The contract samples were manufactnred by a different maker from those found in stock. Comparison of goods in stock with contract samples. For first and second class post-offices.

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* See deficiency, referred to elsewhere.
Contract sample has a glass stopper. A portion of that furnished by the contractor is provided
with wooden stoppers.

Those furnished by the contractor are not as finely finished as contract sample.
Proposals call for 20 to the pound. Those farnished weigh but 124 ounces to 20 accepted for a

| That in stock is not so good as contract sample.
Contract sample is Faber's, while some of the bands found in stock were Michael's.


The contract requires that cotton twine shall measure from 650 to 700 yards to the pound. The quality of the stock tested was up to the Department standard, but it was deticient in yardage, measuring only 562 yards to the pound, or about 18 per cent. short.


The contract requires that jute twine shall be furnished in balls weighing about half a pound each, and shall ineasure not less than 350 yards to the pound. The contractors have been permitted to furnish, from time to time, balls of two sizes, one of a light color weighing about half a pound, as called for by the contract, and the other of a dark color weighing nearly one pound. This last named is inferior to the contract standard in quality, finish, and size of twine, it being knotty, rough, and very uneven. The tensile strength of the samples selected at rau. dom from the stock showed that it was a little stronger than the con: tract sample, and the small twine was fully equal in length to that called for by the contract. The large and knotty twine, however, deficient in yardage, measuring only 258) yards to the pound, 26 per cent. short. The quantity of the large twine accepted by the Department we could not ascertain, but in our opinion (formed from conversation with the employés) it was nearly one half of all furnished.

was or abont


The contract requirement for this class of twine is that it shall measure from 45 to 50 yards to the pound. That examined by us from the stock measured only 34 yards to the pound, or about 27 per cent. short in yardage. The twine accepted is heavier, coarser, and of uneven finishi, when compared with the sample submitted by the contractor upon which the award was made, and it is of a lighter color. This difference in color, we were informed by Major Rhodes, is caused by using Russian hemp instead of American.

It may not be out of place here to state that twine is purchased by the pound, so that yardage is as important an element to the service as quality and strength.


The committee could not inspect marking and rating stamps, owing to the fact that they are not kept in stock, but are mailed to postmasters immediately upon delivery. There were, however, impressions upon paper from the stamps furnished, and from these we believe that the articles (as called for by the Department) were faithfully delivered.


Below will be found tabular statements showing (1) the amounts of the several appropriations supervised by the division of post-office supplies; (2) the amounts expended by the division for contract" and exigency” items of stationery respectively; (3) the amounts expended by postmasters for "exigency” items of stationery and allowed in their accounts.

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