Other service providers — such as bootblacks, watchmen, street sweepers and lamplighters — adopted the practice in the early 19th century. Although their annual addresses never really caught on as they had for newsboys, these workers expected annual tips just the same.
By the early 20th century, Americans felt so oppressed by tipping obligations (both at holiday time and throughout the year) that they launched an anti-tipping crusade. It wasn't effective. By mid-century, publications such as Good Housekeeping were publishing tipping guides for the holidays, and everyone from financial experts to etiquette advisers weighed in on the fraught nature of the Christmas gratuity.
"A tip during the holidays was down payment on better service in the coming year," wrote Kerry Segrave, author of "Tipping: An American Social History of Gratuities." In large part, we have the newspaper carriers to thank for that.
Wendy Woloson is an independent scholar and consulting historian. Her most recent book is "In Hock: Pawning in America from the Revolution to the Great Depression."