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Coins can cut through envelopes, paper currency is subject to theft in the mail, and personal checks offer no guarantees to the payee. The most secure means to send funds through the mail is a money order. Purchased for the full amount plus a nominal fee from post offices, banks, or grocery stores, money orders assure the recipient of payment because the order has been pre-paid. The purchaser is protected with the receipts and the requirement that the designated payee must show identification when cashing the order. First issued by the Post Office Department in 1864, domestic money orders were popular among Civil War soldiers away from home and they quickly boomed with the immigrant population when the service was extended to foreign money orders in 1869. Money orders continue to appeal to immigrants sending money abroad as well as those ordering goods by mail and internet businesses.
Lynn Heidelbaugh, National Postal Museum