Tuesday, December 24, 2013

1897 "Yes, Virginia" Santa Claus Letter | Roadshow Archive | PBS

On this Christmas Eve, it's interesting to see a 1997 Antiques Roadshow appraisal of the original letter that Virginia O'Hanlon wrote to the editor of the New York Sun in 1897. The letter spurred a response that has become beloved by Santa Claus fans everywhere. The link below has a video of the appraisal, as well as photos of the original letter.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"Forever" Stamps Mean More Holiday Postage Choices

In the "old days," those who send holiday cards were limited to a couple of new stamp designs each year. Often, because postage prices changed or supplies ran out, stamps from previous years were not available. If you didn't like the current year's stamps, you were out of luck.

But, the Forever stamp has changed that, it seems! This year's selection of holiday postage includes so many designs, it's difficult to choose one!

Those sending Christmas cards can choose from this year's Gingerbread Houses, Poinsettias or Virgin and Child stamps. But, also available are last year's Santa and Sleigh or the Holy Family stamps. Additionally, you can still get the 2011 Holiday Baubles and the Madonna of the Candelabra stamps.

This year there are two Kwanzaa stamps, two Hannaukah stamps and two Eid stamps, as well.

Wishing you a happy holiday and a safe and warm winter!

Monday, October 14, 2013

US Holiday Today...No Mail

The U.S. Postal Service has been operating faithfully during the government shutdown. This is one important reason to be happy the USPS is an independent government agency.

However, today is Columbus Day in the U.S., and there will be no mail delivery.

There are only three more postal holidays left in 2013: Veteran's Day on Nov. 11, Thanksgiving on Nov. 28, and Christmas on Dec. 25.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Letter bridges seven decades

 The news last week brought a story about a Nevada woman who received a letter from her father almost 70 years after he wrote it.

It wasn't the postal service that caused the delay. In fact, no one is exactly sure what circumstances led to the letter being stored in a box in a house in St. Louis, but Donna Gregory found the letter and spent the past 14 years trying to find its rightful owner. Finally, she located Peggy Eddington-Smith who had been a tiny baby when her father wrote the letter to her.

It was World War II, and Pfc. John Eddington was stationed in Texas when he wrote the letter to the daughter he would never get a chance to see. Shortly after he sent the letter, he was sent overseas and died in Italy. His Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals were found with the letter and also returned to his daughter.

Peggy had once lived in St. Louis, and her mother, who died in 1997, had never remarried.

According to an Associated Press story, Eddington-Smith said getting her father's medals was nice, but the letter meant more because it made her feel closer to her him.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Monday, September 23, 2013

Ray Charles stamp unveiled

On what would have been his 83rd birthday, the “father of soul,” Ray Charles, was honored today as the latest inductee into the U.S. Postal Service’s Music Icons Forever Stamp Series.

The ceremonies were scheduled to take place at the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center at Morehouse College in Atlanta and The GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles.

The first-class, Forever stamps are available in sheets of 16.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Boy meets world through letters

Five-year-old Toby Little of Sheffield, England, is meeting the people of the world by writing letters.

According to his website, www.writingtotheworld.com, Toby started writing letters to people all around the world after reading "A Letter to New Zealand."

His letter writing has really taken off, and he's turned it into a fundraising project, aiding the charity ShelterBox, which provides for families who have lost everything due to a disaster. You can read more about Toby and his letters on his website or in this story on the Huffington Post.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Turning email into snail mail

There has been quite a bit of press about Outbox (and possibly other similar companies) that collects your "snail mail," digitizes it and then sends it to you electronically. Effectively, it turns your postal mail into email.

But, have you heard about "Snail Mail My Email," a project that accomplishes the opposite of
Outbox? Snail Mail My Email began in 2011 and involved volunteers who collected emails and turned them into handwritten letters and mailed them to the intended recipient.

The project includes a website, a book and a Facebook page.

The website says that it will be an annual project with the next installment taking place this fall. Let's keep an eye on it.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Daddy's Letter to His Little Girl

The most recent edition of "Reader's Digest" has a feature written in the form of a letter.

Dr. Kelly Flanagan, a psychologist, wrote the letter about his daughter's future husband. It's a touching piece. You can read another version of the letter, along with many reader comments, on his blog, UnTangled.

Have you written letters to your children? Letter that you might not want them to open until they are older? It's a good way to say things that your kids might not understand just yet.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Letters to Your College Student

Across the globe, college students are settling in on campus and their parents are back home
wondering what they're going to do without their son or daughter at home. For many, this may be the first time the parents and (now-grown) children have been apart for an extended length of time. Homesickness and empty-nest syndrome will probably affect them in one way or another as they adjust.

This is a great time to get out that stationery and write some letters!

For parents, the trick is to write a letter that, at the same time, includes news from home but doesn't make the college student feel too left out, lets them know you miss them but doesn't make you sound crazy, offers some advice but doesn't come across too pushy. It can be a delicate balance to achieve.

In addition to writing a newsy letter from home a few times a month, parents can also send occasional care packages, including cookies, a favorite food, an expensive magazine they might not be able to afford, clippings from the local newspaper, a dorm-friendly recipe, etc.

Here is some insightful information from Marshall P. Duke, a professor of psychology at Emory University, as posted on the Huffington Post:

"Here is what I tell the parents: think of what you want to tell your children when you finally take leave of them and they go off to their dorm and the beginning of their new chapter in life and you set out for the slightly emptier house that you will now live in. What thoughts, feelings and advice do you want to stick? "Always make your bed!"? "Don't wear your hair that way!"? Surely not. This is a moment to tell them the big things. Things you feel about them as children, as people. Wise things. Things that have guided you in your life. Ways that you hope they will live. Ways that you hope they will be. Big things. Life-level things.
I tell the parents lastly, that I, myself, was never able to do this, because I was too emotional and couldn't quite say what I wanted without crying or with a desirable level of equanimity. All is not lost, I tell them and I tell you. As soon as you can after you leave the campus, write your child a letter -- with a pen -- on real paper -- in your own hand. The first sentence should be something like, "When I left you at the campus today,(or at the airport , etc.) I could not tell you what I wanted to say, so I've written it all down....." Mail the letter to the child. It will not be deleted; it will not be tossed away; it will be kept. Its message will stick. Always."

In one of those care packages, you might want to include a small portfolio or letter box in which your college student can store the letters you will write, the letters you will write from your heart and that you will send without any unrealistic expectations about receiving letters in return (because you remember what it's like to be young and busy.)

Happy letter writing!

(Clip art courtesy of http://www.freeclipartnow.com)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Salinger Letters on Exhibit

Photo courtesy of The Morgan Library and Museum

There has been quite a bit of news lately about the life of J.D. Salinger, author of "The Catcher in the Rye," especially with the recent release of "Salinger," a documentary by Shane Salerno.

Salinger was a letter writer, and some of those letters are on display at The Morgan Library and Museum in New York.

According to information from The Morgan between 1941 and 1943, Salinger sent nine letters and postcards to Marjorie Sheard, an aspiring Canadian writer. The collection of documents was acquired by the Morgan in April and sheds light on Salinger’s writing and the authors that influenced him in the early stages of his career.

The museum reports that a highlight among the letters is one in which the young author writes to Ms. Sheard about "the first Holden story” about a “prep school kid on his Christmas vacation.”

The Morgan will display the complete correspondence in a show titled “Lose not heart,” the first public presentation of these revealing letters, on view from Sept. 10, 2013 to Jan. 12, 2014.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Love Letters of a President

I've written before about how President Barack Obama writes letters, but over the weekend, I heard about another letter-writing president, Woodrow Wilson.

The CBS Sunday Morning Show had a segment on President Wilson, who served from 1913 to 1921. The story mentioned how the president's wife, Ellen, died while he was in office. Within a few months, he had fallen in love with Edith Bolling Galt and was writing her up to three letters a day in order to convince her to give him a chance.

It was such an intriguing story that I did a little more research on the 28th U.S. President. It seems that he had also written many letters to Ellen, before and after their marriage. One of their three daughters, Eleanor Wilson McAdoo, edited some of the letters into a book, "The Priceless Gift: The Love Letters of Woodrow Wilson and Ellen Axson Wilson," published in 1962, 38 years after her father's death.

According to Ellen's foreword in the book, after Woodrow Wilson's death, there were more than 1,400 letters found in his house, including those between the president and his first wife.

You can read Ellen's book online here. You can also read about the manuscript collections of Ellen Wilson and Edith Wilson at the National First Ladies' Library website.

What a great legacy these letters have given us, as Americans, as letter writers, as humanity.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Snail Mail Collective

Melyssa of the Nectar Collective blog and Chelsea of the blog Lost in Travels have organized the Snail Mail Collective. To participate, snail mailers sign up and are paired with another participant. Then, they each put together delightful snail mail packets of goodies based on a stated theme. Last month's theme was "Under the Sea." This month, it's "Back to School."

Based on their photos, the packages look like great fun to put together and receive! Click on the blog links above to see if it's a project you're interested in.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

105-year-old Volunteers to Write Thank-you Letters

I saw a great story on NBC News this weekend. The "On the Road Again" segment featured Edythe Kirchmaier of California. She still drives her own car and volunteers every week to hand-write thank you letters on behalf of her favorite charity, Direct Relief International. She even has a Facebook page! Check out the NBC segment below.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Letters to the kids

It's back-to-school time across most of the U.S., and people of all ages are headed back to the
classroom. From the kindergartner just getting started to the 50-year-old going back to get a higher degree, students can be stressed out about what lies ahead.

This is a great time to perfect the short, uplifting letter format. For the youngsters, such a "letter" doesn't have to be in the traditional form at all. It can be just a note, even a simple friendly phrase, such as "I'm thinking of you," or a short joke:
Q. What is the difference between a school teacher and a train?

A. The teacher says spit your gum out, and the train says "chew, chew!”
For the older kids going off to college, a longer letter of encouragement would be appropriate. And, for the non-traditional student returning to school after a long absence, a nice card would brighten his or her day.

Melissa over at the blog 320 Sycamore has a great list of jokes to include in kids' lunch boxes. You'll need to click on the link in her blog post to get to the jokes.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Blog About A Collection of Letters

Lisa Smith writes The Sloane Letters Blog, a site about the correspondence of Sir Hans Sloane, an eighteenth-century physician, botanist and collector.

The blog includes many interesting tidbits from the letters, as well as several links to other sites of historical nature.

It's an interesting read.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

'Snail mail is cool'

"Snail mail is cool," 10-year-old Eloise Barrett is quoted as saying in an article about pen pals in the "Hills News."

Eloise lives in Australia, and she and her schoolmates at Galston Public School were matched with pen pals in Ireland.

"The kids found it really interesting because they found they had things in common," said their teacher Jackie Payne.

Check out the story through the above link for more about how the younger generation enjoys letter writing when they have a chance to experience it!

(Clip art courtesy of http://www.webweaver.nu/clipart)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Two of my favorite things — Girl Scouts and letters!

Here's a great story about some Girl Scouts who collected 610 thank you letters to show appreciation
for UNICEF workers. The girls are from Garden City, N.Y.

Click that link above to read the entire, inspiring story!

Friday, August 23, 2013

New stamp commemorates March on Washington

Today, the U.S. Postal Service issued a new stamp commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.

On Aug. 28, 1963, nearly a quarter of a million people came together in Washington, DC, to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It was then that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his powerful “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement. 

According to the USPS website, the 1963 March on Washington stamp is the last of three stamps issued this year as part of a civil rights series commemorating courage, strength and equality in America. The first Forever stamp marked the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in January, while the second Forever stamp honored Rosa Parks on the 100th anniversary of her birth in February.

In addition to offering the March on Washington stamp, the UPS also has T-shirts, commemorative panels, keepsake sets and more.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sixty Years of Round-Robin Letters

The summer edition of the Colby College magazine features an article on a group of 11 women who graduated from Colby (in Waterville, Maine) in 1952 and started a round-robin letter-writing circle.

Sixty years later, they're still writing letters.

It seems there are several different ways a round-robin can work. For the group in the story, it seems that each one writes a letter, adds it to an envelope with the other letters she just received and mails the package on to the next in line. When the package makes it way back to each letter writer, she takes out her last letter, reads all of the other new letters and adds her own new letter before sending it on again.

Other round-robins seem more formal, while some are less organized. Have you ever participated in a round-robin letter-writing project? How did it work?

(Clip art courtesy of http://www.wpclipart.com/)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Great blog post about the letter that was never sent

Ashley Woods writes in her blog on The Huffington Post about the letter she wishes she would've written to author Elmore Leonard, who died yesterday at the age of 87.

It's not just a great commentary on Leonard, but it's also an encouragement to sit down and write that letter (or letters) you've been meaning to write. Especially important are the letters that tell someone how much they mean to you, how they've influenced your life, how you're so happy to have met them.

If you've been putting off writing an important letter, set a goal. Today is Wednesday...set the goal to put that letter in the mail on Monday. That gives you a few days to make sure you have everything you need, stationery, stamps, address. Then, you have the weekend to actually write the letter. On Monday morning, drop that letter in the mailbox on your way to work, school or the market.

Don't wait until it's too late to say (or, in this case, write) the feelings that are in your heart.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Letter Collecting

Last week, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about collecting literature, including letters and postcards.

The article mentioned a Sotheby's auction earlier this summer in which the collection of letters and a manuscript by David Foster Wallace sold for $125,000. The original estimate for the sale had been $10,000 to $15,000.

It seems that those who collect such things are quite serious about it.

Even if you don't have the funds to collect such pricy papers, you can go to sites, such as Sotheby's and look at many of the items online. Other online collections are found at universities, such as the University of Houston, which has many items for viewing in its Digital Library.

Collecting letters and other papers can be almost addicting, I'm sure. If you love ephemera, history, etc., it can be difficult to imagine such items lost to world forever.

Do you collect or save letters, postcards or other papers?

This letter from Letter from Henry Cowing to Mary Jones, wife of the last president of the Republic of Texas, is in the University of Texas' Digital Library.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Writing interesting letters

I am always fascinated by the many different ways that people write letters. Most everyone, in their own unique way, makes every letter interesting. Some may not even realize that what they're doing adds to the quality of their letters.

I received a letter recently from a new penpal who, at the top of the letter, listed the music that was playing while the letter writer was writing. It was Opus 26 by Dustin O'Halloran. Listening to the same music that my penpal was listening to while the letter was being written just adds to the connection between the letter writer and the recipient.

Some letter writers draw pictures on the stationery, include clippings of recipes or cartoons, post the weather at their location, etc. Many decorate the envelope to turn it into mail art. Some use specific stamps to convey an added message.

Is there some little thing that you do, automatically or quite purposefully, to make your letters even more interesting to your recipients? Tell us about it!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Made in America Stamps

The contributions of America’s industrial-era workers are memorialized on a new sheet of Forever stamps titled Made in America: Building a Nation. The stamps, which feature black-and-white photographs of early 20th-century industrial workers, were dedicated at the Department of Labor today by Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe, according to the USPS website.

“With Labor Day around the corner, the Postal Service is proud to honor the men and women who helped build this country with their own hands,” Donahoe said. “They mined the coal that warmed our homes. They made the clothes we wore on our backs. Let each stamp serve as a small reminder of the dedication, work ethic, and sacrifices that make America great.”

The pane features 12 stamps, each showing a different man or woman hard at work. In the top row, from left to right, are an airplane maker; a derrick worker on the Empire State Building; a millinery apprentice; and a laborer on a hoisting ball at the Empire State Building.

In the middle row, from left to right, are a linotyper in a publishing house; a welder on the Empire State Building; a coal miner; and riveters on the Empire State Building.

In the bottom row, from left to right, are a powerhouse mechanic; a railroad track walker; a textile worker; and a crew member guiding a beam on the Empire State Building.

Eleven of the stamp images were taken by photographer Lewis Hine, who is famous for his work which helped tell the story of early 20th-century laborers. There also are five stamp sheets available, each with a different photo in the selvage area, or area outside the stamps, on the sheet. The coal miner appears again on a selvage, along with three additional Hine photos. A Margaret Bourke-White photo of a female welder is also featured. Visit usps.com/madeinamerica to view the Made in America: Building a Nation video.

The commemorative First-Class Mail Forever stamps are 46 cents each and are offered as a pane of 12 stamps.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Young Czech writer wins letter-writing contest

Fifteen-year-old Daniel KorĨak, from Ostrava, Czech Republic, recently won the Universal Postal Union's 42nd International Letter-Writing Competition for Young People.

His letter was written to the central European river the Oder. The 2013 contest asked budding writers to explain why water is a precious resource.

Daniel Korcak with his mother (left) and sister.
According to the United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe, the gold-medal winner, who captivated the international jury with his simple, creative and innovative prose, said,
"I thought that many students would write a letter to a person, so I decided to write my letter directly to water."

"In the river you create, we bathe, fish, children play with you when building stone dams, athletes on boats struggle against your power, and many seek peace and quiet in your whisper... near your river, there is your sister, healing water, which... waits to be carried to the nearby spa where it helps heal our ailments," wrote Daniel.
According to the UNRIC site, UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein said: "Communication is at the heart of the postal activity and, in a sea of digital messages, it remains critical for young people to understand the importance of the written word and the structured composition and recognize the emotions and call to action good writing can elicit. Postal services support literacy and communication, and we are delighted that our competition touches so many young people."

An estimated 1.5 million young people from 60 countries participated in this 42nd letter-writing contest, which aims to raise awareness of the role postal services play in our societies, help young people develop their skills in composition and the ability to express their thoughts.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Monday, July 22, 2013

Annie's Scribbling Glue letter writing blog

I've come across a delightful blog I think you'll like, too.

Annie writes the "Scribbling Glue" blog.

I so enjoyed her blog postings that I went back to her first blog post written almost two years ago. Here's how she started the blog:
"It is because of my sister that I am a letter-writer.  I was in third grade when she went off to college and I missed her like crazy.  I started my first letter to her almost as soon as she pulled out of the driveway."
Annie blogs about writing and receiving letters, letter-related books, mail art and more. Check out her blog!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

'Letters from Skye' sounds like a wonderful book

A new epistolary novel has been published. "Letters from Skye" sounds like a most interesting story, and it has its own trailer on YouTube.

The book is written by Jessica Brockmole and published by Random House's Cornerstone Publishing and Ballantine Books.

According to what I've read about the book, it's set, for the most part, during World War I and revolves around the letters between a Scottish poet and an American college student who starts by writing her a fan letter.

Not only does the book sound great, so does the author. She wrote a guest post on the blog "The Other Side of the Story with Janice Hardy" about writing an epistolary novel.

Here's what she wrote about letter writing in another guest post on the Foyles website:
"There is something irresistible about a letter. When it's addressed to you, of course, there's the anticipation of lifting the envelope's flap, the little thrill of tracing the inked words, the wondering if anything more lay between the lines. The warm rush of knowing that someone smoothed the stationary and signed at the end with you in mind."
I think I'll put her book on my wish list!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Handwriting as Art

Many of us who enjoy writing and receiving letters consider it an art. But, a new exhibit indicates the
Smithsonian Institute does, too.

"The Art of Handwriting" will be on exhibit at the Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery in Washington, D.C., through Oct. 27, 2013.

The letters are from the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art and are from a variety of artists. To explore the connection between art and script, visit "The Art of Handwriting" exhibit in person or online.
One of the letters in the exhibit is by photographer Berenice Abbott (1898-1991).

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lighthouse stamps debut Saturday!

From the USPS website:
There's something about lighthouses. They fascinate us; they enchant us; they draw us in. Utilitarian yet majestic, these structures possess a beauty and romance that reach far beyond their practical natures. Recognizing our love affair with these lonely sentinels, the U.S. Postal Service has released the New England Coastal Lighthouses (Forever) series of stamps celebrating our nation's lighthouses.

New England Coastal Lighthouses, the sixth in the series, features five lighthouses:

* Portland Head (Cape Elizabeth, Maine)
* Portsmouth Harbor (New Castle, New Hampshire)
* Point Judith, (Narragansett, Rhode Island)
* New London Harbor (New London, Connecticut)
* Boston Harbor (Boston, Massachusetts).

Each stamp shows a close-up view of one of the five lighthouses that captures not only the down-to-earth aspect of the tower but also the mysterious qualities that compel us to come closer.

The five lighthouses are among the oldest in the U.S., and each is on the National Register of Historic Places. Boston Harbor Light is also a National Historic Landmark.

Howard Koslow created original paintings for New England Coastal Lighthouses stamp art—and for the entire Lighthouses series. Howard E. Paine and Greg Breeding were the art directors.

The New England Coastal Lighthouses stamps are being issued as Forever stamps. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.

The self-adhesive stamps will be issued in sheets of 20 beginning Saturday, July 13, 2013.

Willa Cather's letters

In April of this year, a book was published featuring 566 of author Willa Cather's personal letters. According to Random House, "The Selected Letters of Willa Cather" amount to only 20 percent of the total collection of her letters. (There's a review of the book at this link.)

A bit of controversy surrounds the book because, according to an NPR story, her will specifically forbade the publishing of her letters. With the death of her nephew, who was also the will's executor, the letters have now been published. The story also says that the will also dictated that her work not be adapted to theater or film; yet, "My Antonia" was turned into a stage play in the 1990s.

Apparently, her letters are fascinating to read, and she's been deceased since 1947. What do you think? Should her wishes have been respected forever and the letters never published? Some of the commenters on the NPR site obviously think that way but not all do.

I'm curious what other letter writers think.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Beautiful stamps

Earlier this year, the U.S. Postal Service issued these beautiful stamps, "Where Dreams Blossom."

The Forever (for First Class letter postage) matches the two-ounce "Yes, I Do" wedding stamp(66 cents, specifically designed for mailing wedding invitations).

"Where Dreams Blossom" can be used  for any occasion or use, including save-the-date notices, response cards,  thank-you notes or everyday cards and letters.

The digital color postmark for the issuance of the stamp is beautiful, too!

If they don't have these at your local post office, you can order them online.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

War letters collection

What a wonderful passion — and now a full-time home for his collection — Andrew Carroll has!

According to all of the stories I've read about him, he is on a mission to save the war letters of America. A recent Associated Press news story explains that Andrew has been collecting war letters for 15 years. This fall, his collection of war letters will be in the Center for American War Letters at Chapman University in southern California.

I've written about Andrew's project before in this War Letters post. How wonderful it is that his project continues to grow!

You can read more about all this on the Chapman University site, the War Letters site, and by searching his name and or key words online. It's a fascinating story!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Letter Writing Challenge

Melanie, aka Miss Melvis, at the Me, Bookshelf and I blog has started a new letter writing challenge this month. To read about her plans, click on the link to her blog.

It sounds like she's going to have fun writing letters this month!

Happy letter writing!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Independece Day in the U.S.

Thursday, July 4, is Independence Day in the U.S. It will be celebrated across the country with parades, fireworks, barbecues and more.

One symbol dear to Americans is the eagle, which is the national symbol.

Next month, the U.S. Postal Service will introduce a Folk Art Eagle stamped envelope, continuing a  tradition of depicting eagles on postage that began in the late 19th century.

The stamped envelope features a photograph of a plaque that shows an eagle carrying two American flags and a shield. Made from pinewood by an unknown carver, the plaque is finished with red, white, and blue paint and appears to have its original gilding, according to the Beyond the Perf blog.

It will be a "Forever" stamped envelope. Its postage will always be equal to the value of the First-Class Mail one-ounce rate in effect at the time of use, even if the rate increases after you buy it.

The USPS offers a variety of patriotic stamps, including the Patriotic Star, Liberty Bell, "Freedom, Liberty, Equality and Justice" Flags and more.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Crossed letters

As long as I've been writing letters, the concept of "crossed letters" would have meant that two letters "crossed in the mail." For example, if I mail a letter to a friend who mails a letter to me on the same day, our letters figuratively or maybe literally cross paths on their journeys to our homes.

But, in the more distant past, a "crossed letter" was a completely different concept. A crossed letter was also called "cross-hatched" and was a paper-saving method. Letter writers wrote twice on each side of each sheet of paper, filling up the page once and then turning the page a quarter of a turn and writing over those words at a right-angle. It's a little confusing. Marie Tschopp writes more about the concept on her blog "All Things Laura Ingalls Wilder."

Here's a picture of a crossed letter, courtesy of the Boston Public Library's flickr page. It's quite interesting.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Happy Birthday to the Zip Code!

According to the "CBS Sunday Morning Show," today is the 50th birthday of the U.S. National ZIP Code. Although they had been used in big cities, ZIP codes were launched nationwide in 1963.

The word ZIP is an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan.

An official USPS report, "The Untold Story of the ZIP Code," says that "The code was originally intended to allow mail sorting methods to be automated but ended up creating unimagined socio-economic benefits as an organizing and enabling device."

To help citizens adapt to using ZIP codes, the cartoon character Mr. ZIP was introduced, along with the new system. Happy birthday, Mr. ZIP and your codes!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Reasons to write letters

Ante Perkov writes over at Yahoo about "5 Reasons to Write a Handwritten Letter Today." It's a nice, short piece to remind us why we should write more! Check it out.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A new book and a blog post on letters

On her blog, author Mary Alice Monroe writes about her new book, "The Summer Girls," which begins with a hand-written invitation.

Mary Alice then goes on to write a personal post about letter writing.

She writes:
"I love that pause a special letter gives you while standing at the mailbox.  You’re so interested to see something ‘special’ that you’re ripping open the envelope even before you walk back in your front door..."
 Click on the link above and read the rest of her post. I think you'll enjoy it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Johnny Cash stamp released last week

About a month ago, I posted information about the USA Philatelic catalog and the upcoming Johnny USPS website, John Carter Cash, Larry Gatlin, Jamey Johnson, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Roys, Marty Stuart, Randy Travis and other entertainers were on hand to pay tribute to Johnny Cash as he was inducted into the Postal Service’s Music Icons Forever stamp series at the Ryman Auditorium on June 5. 
Cash stamp. Well, that stamp was released with great fanfare last week. According to the

“It is an amazing blessing that my father, Johnny Cash be honored with this stamp. Dad was a hardworking man, a man of dignity. As much as anything else he was a proud American, always supporting his family, fans and country. I can think of no better way to pay due respect to his legacy than through the release of this stamp,” said singer-songwriter, producer John Carter Cash, Johnny Cash’s son.

“My family is thrilled that my father will grace a Postal Service Forever Stamp, a great honor for any American, and an honor that would have particularly delighted him. It is a joy to know that generations will use this stamp, and my father will forever be where he loved to be: traveling the world,” added singer-songwriter and author Rosanne Cash, the music icon’s eldest daughter.

The stamp features a photograph taken by Frank Bez for Columbia Records (now part of Sony Music Entertainment) during a photo session for Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash (1963). The reverse side of the pane includes a larger version of the photograph featured on the stamp. Greg Breeding of Charlottesville, VA, served as art director and designer of the stamp. Breeding chose a photograph taken during the photo session for Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash (1963). Breeding designed the square stamp pane to resemble the appearance of a 45 rpm record sleeve.

Also available with the stamp are a variety of postal products, including first day covers, press sheets with and without die cuts, digital color postmark, ceremony program, framed art, poster and more. 

Look in the USPS online shop to purchase.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Write now!

Yesterday, I found out that a friend's daughter died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 29. I knew her when she was just a baby, and her tragic death has reminded me how fragile life is.

As I look at my life and that of those around me, I think that too often we procrastinate things we ought not put off. It's easier to wait until we have more time or are less stressed or are in the right frame of mind. Much of the time, the things we're postponing isn't something unpleasant, just thought-requiring.

Take a moment and think about those letters you need to write. Do you need to say "thank you" or "I'm sorry" or "I love you"? If there's a letter you've been meaning to write but just haven't written yet, I'm encouraging you to do it today. Find a piece of stationery and a pen or pencil and put those thoughts on paper. Then, go drop it in a mailbox.

Don't wait any longer!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Great love letter story

As many of Steve Hartman's stories do, "Love at 81: Worth the Wait" has a twist to it.

Writer Cynthia Riggs received a coded letter in the mail. She knew who it was from, and the letter led to a happily ever after story.

Watch the CBS video for the whole story!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Monday, June 3, 2013

Summer letter writing

It's almost summer! Well, around here, we've already had 100-degree days, but the first day of
summer isn't for another three weeks.

How do the seasons affect your letter writing? Do you find you have more time in the summer to write letters? Do the "longer" days give you more energy and more daylight hours for corresponding?

Or, do you find yourself so busy with summer activities that you don't have time for writing? Do you find it easier to write letters when you're stuck indoors in the winter?

What about letter writing topics? Do you find more to write about in the summer or the winter?

How do the seasons affect your letter writing?

(Four Seasons clipart courtesy of www.freeclipartnow.com)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pretty new US stamps

The U.S. Postal Service recently introduced a new set of Forever stamps, the "Flag for All Seasons."

In the stamps dedicated earlier this month, Old Glory is illustrated in four different stamp designs. According to the USPS website, each stamp shows the American flag, viewed from below, flying from a pole at full staff against a background of trees painted to evoke all four seasons of the year.
The stamp art, consisting of opaque watercolors on illustration board, is the work of Laura Stutzman, who used personal photographs of the flag for reference. The seasons are reflected in the colors of the leaves on the trees or, in the case of the flag in winter, the lack of leaves on the background trees.
These stamps are being issued as Forever stamps. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce price.

Booklets of 20 "A Flag for All Seasons" Forever stamps will go on sale nationwide Friday, May 17, followed by booklets of 10 stamps Aug. 16. The stamps also are available in coils of 100 stamps at local Post Offices, online at usps.com/stamps or by calling 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724).
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