Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Ultimate Texas Letter

(Courtesy of

In February 177 years ago, a young man from South Carolina and Alabama named William Barret Travis found himself in a dire situation. Due to the illness of Col. James Bowie, Travis was the commanding officer of a little more than 100 Texians, situated in a former mission known by many as The Alamo, fighting for independence from Mexico.

On Feb, 24, the 26-year-old and his troops were surrounded by "a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna." In desperate hope for assistance, he wrote a letter, a plea for help.

In that letter dramatically addressed to "To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World," Lt. Col. Travis explained the situation and declared, "I shall never surrender or retreat....If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country - Victory or Death."

A few men did come to his aid, but they were not enough to hold back the Mexican forces. In the early morning hours of March 6, 1836, the Mexicans attacked, and The Alamo fell. Most, if not all, of the men defending the garrison died in the battle, including Travis.

A month and a half later, the Texians won, and the Republic of Texas as born. A few years later, Texas became one of the United States.

Through all of these years, that cry for help and declaration of independence that Travis penned has survived. Known as the "Victory or Death Letter," it is normally housed in the Texas State Archives and Library Building in Austin, Texas. However, for a short time later this month, Travis' letter will be returned to the place of its origin, The Alamo. It will be on display at The Alamo from Feb. 23 through March 7. A special protective display case has been built just for the letter, and funds were raised to pay for the security needed when the letter is transferred to and housed at The Alamo.

You can read all about the "Victory or Death Letter" on a special website,, and at There is also a contest to win a trip to San Antonio to see the letter. Find out more information about the contest here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Stamp Prices Make the News

This Year of the Snake stamp is new at the USPS.
I've been seeing a lot on the news and other TV programs about the new U.S. postage prices. As you probably know by now, the cost to mail a first-class letter has gone up to 46 cents.

In fact, Monday night, Craig Ferguson mentioned the new stamp prices in his opening monologue on the "Late Late Show" on CBS. You can watch a funny clip of that here. A warning: It's a little risque, as his show often is.

Monday, January 7, 2013

New US postage rates

The cost of stamps for U.S. postage will go up a tiny bit on Jan. 27, 2013. To mail a letter of 1 ounce or less in the United States, it will cost 46 cents.  That is a 1-cent increase.

A similar 1-cent increase will be in effect for postcards, as well. It will cost 33 cents to mail a postcard within the United States. But, the USPS is introducing these great new apple stamps to make the transition easier.

Keep in mind, that the first class letter stamps are Forever stamps. So, if you want to save a few cents, stock up on Forever stamps before Jan. 27. You'll save a penny a stamp, and they'll still be good for first class,

Be sure that after Jan. 27, you check all the rates for what you're mailing. You can look it up online or ask at your post office.

The USPS changes for international postage are detailed in my blog post last Friday.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Big Changes to US-International Mail Prices

According to what I'm reading on the USPS website, there are some significant changes coming to the way the US Postal Services charges for international letters.

Currently, to determine the postage for an international letter, you must know which category the country is placed in by the USPS. For example, right now, a 1-ounce letter to Canada or Mexico costs 85 cents to mail, but that same letter mailed to other countries costs $1.05. And, if you send thicker letters that weigh more than 1 ounce, the numbers vary even more. A 2-ounce letter to Canada will cost you $1.17; to Mexico, $1.44; to Eastern Asia, Europe or Australia, $1.92; and to Western Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and New Zealand, $1.85.

Beginning Jan. 27, 2013, those prices are all going up, with one exception. The new price for an international letter weighing 1 ounce or less will be $1.10, no matter where you're sending it. That means no more looking up country codes.

The cost for letters weighing more than an ounce will still vary. To mail a letter weighing more than 1 ounce and up to 2 ounces, it will cost you $1.10 for Canada (that's the only price that went down), $1.65 for Mexico, $2.05 for Eastern Asia, Europe or Australia; and $1.90 for Western Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and New Zealand.

Additionally, the cost of mailing a postcard from the U.S. to any international address is increasing to $1.10. That's a 5-cent increase for most of the world but a 25-cent increase for postcards to Canada and Mexico.

As part of the new prices, the USPS is unveiling a new Forever international stamp.

You may still use any combination of legal US stamps totaling $1.10 to mail international letters after Jan. 27, but the new stamp might make it easier and might save you some money. The new Global Forever stamp is round and will be sold in sheets of 20 at a total cost of $22. But, if the price increases in the future, Global Forever stamps that you have already purchased at the lower price still will be valid for mailing a 1-ounce or less letter, just like it works with domestic Forever stamps.

If you send a lot of international letters or postcards through the US mail, these may seem like big increases, but I still think it's a good deal. For $1.10, the USPS will pick up my personal message, make sure it gets to any country in the world, where another postal employee will hand-deliver it to my recipient. Even with the price hike, it's a great deal!

(I'll detail the changes to the domestic postage rate on Monday.)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013 Letter Writing Topics

If you're like me and are planning to write more letters in 2013, you might be wondering what you're going to write about. Especially if you're writing to a new pen pal or maybe to someone you haven't had contact with for a long time, you can get letter-writer's block.

Here are a few simple letter writing topics to get you started. (I'll admit, some of them may seem a little cliche, but it's up to you and your writing skills to make the topics fresh and interesting; put your spin on them.)

* Write a letter about the weather. Are you experiencing a winter storm? Is global warming affecting your climate? Do you live in the southern hemisphere where it's warm and sunny right now?

* Do you have any New Year's resolutions? Any goals and plans for the new year? Write about that!

* How does your location compare to the stereotypes about it? If you live in the city, do others think that everyone there is in a hurry and rude? Is that how you see it? If you're from a rural area, do people think you wear overalls and a straw hat? Do you live up to the stereotype or break it?

* Do you have a pet? More than one? Write a letter about your pet!

* Are you superstitious? About what? Today's date is 1-3-13. What do you think of that? Write about the superstitions you have heard about all your life and how you have reacted to them.

The easiest way to come up with a letter writing topic is to concentrate on what's been on your mind lately and write about that! Good luck!

Happy Letter Writing!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New U.S. Postage Stamp

The first stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service in 2013 commemorates a momentous act that took place 150 years earlier, on Jan. 1, 1863, the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Emancipation Proclamation Forever Stamp represents freedom and is the first in a series of three Civil Rights stamps to be released in 2013, according to a news release on the USPS website. The remaining stamps in the series, to be issued later this year, mark enduring moments of courage and equality in the civil rights movement by featuring Rosa Parks and the March on Washington.

“Stamps often tap into our culture and help us remember the events and people who have had an impact on American history,” said Deputy Postmaster General Ronald A. Stroman. “The Emancipation Proclamation was a powerful symbol of President Lincoln’s determination to end the war, to end slavery, and to reconstruct the economy of the country without slave labor.”

The Emancipation Proclamation stamp is a first-class Forever stamp that currently costs 45 cents per stamp. You can also order a signed and numbered poster of the stamp, as well as other related items.

Graphic designer Gail Anderson partnered with art director Antonio Alcalá to design the stamp.  It prominently features the phrase, “Henceforward Shall Be Free,” which is taken from the historic document. It also notes Abraham Lincoln’s name and the year the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

Anderson, known for her term as senior art director at Rolling Stone magazine and design of Broadway play posters, revels in making typography from old forms. To evoke the look of posters from the Civil War era, she tapped Hatch Show Print of Nashville, Tenn., to produce the Emancipation Proclamation stamp. Established in 1879, Hatch is one of the oldest working letterpress print shops in America and employs the motto, “preservation through production.”

In 2013, the Postal Service will introduce 30 new stamps to portray American experiences. From landmark history like the Emancipation Proclamation to celebrating budding romance with the Sealed with Love Stamp in time for Valentine’s Day cards and letters, each limited-edition stamp is unique and taps into an American passion.

You may view the Emancipation Proclamation Forever Stamp first-day-of-issue event online, as well as a preview of other stamps to be issued in 2013 at For more information about the stamp, click here.

2013 Letter Writing Goals

Do you have any letter writing goals for the upcoming year?

I plan to write more letters! My day-job has been taking up so much of my time that I have allowed my correspondence to fall by the wayside. It's been terrible! I feel like I've been missing out on so much!

So, I'm committed to getting back into the letter writing routine, as well as the blogging routine!

Let me know what your postal plans for 2013 are!

(Clip art courtesy of
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