Postcards and Notes
Volkswagen buses meet on Old Route 66

Postcards and Notes

Summer and fall are excellent times for vacation, and there is no better way to share those experiences than by sending postcards and notes by mail. It’s quick, it’s easy, and there are beautiful options to represent those good times. But more to the point, postcards and notes are a great way to communicate, anytime and any place. “Having a great time in (fill in the blank). Wish you were here.” This is a standard cliché about messages on postcards, that they are rote and say very little. But nothing could be further from the truth.…

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Royal Mail Delivers Your Letters – and Packages, Too!
Letterbox pillar, St. Ives

Royal Mail Delivers Your Letters – and Packages, Too!

My recent visit to the United Kingdom would not have been complete without checking out the Royal Mail. Picturesque letterboxes led me to believe that a sweet, old-fashioned post office would be just around the corner, but that turned out not to be the case. The post office in St. Ives (Cambridgeshire) is co-located in the back of WHSmith, which is, in this location, a news and sundry store. One can purchase any one of three daily newspapers, a bottle of water, an umbrella, a Cadbury’s (now owned by Hershey) chocolate bar and various other snacks…

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Banner Year for Stamps
Protect Pollinators stamps

Banner Year for Stamps

If you like to put something pretty, creative or unique on your envelopes, this has been a banner year for stamps. From the transformative Total Solar Eclipse stamp to the newly released Protect Pollinators or Sharks Forever stamps, the U.S. Postal Service has a Forever stamp for you. My personal preferences for stamps include nature, animals, art, and literature. Fortunately, many of stamps issued this year, or yet to be issued in 2017, fit in at least one of these categories, and often more than one. Following four years of drought in California, our yard was…

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A Trip to the National Postal Museum
Historic postal rail car, National Postal Museum

A Trip to the National Postal Museum

A recent trip to Washington D.C. provided me with the opportunity to revisit the National Postal Museum.   One of the Smithsonian’s treasured institutions, the National Postal Museum, conveniently located next to Union Station, is free and open daily to the public. It is a treasure for children and families, philatelists, and anyone who is interested in U.S. history and the role of the post office in the development of the country. It is through the National Postal Museum that I learned the story of Owney, the scruffy dog from Albany, New York who became infatuated with…

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The Epistolary Novel

Epistolary adj epis·to·lary \i-ˈpi-stə-ˌler-ē, ˌe-pi-ˈstȯ-lə-rē\  1 :  of, relating to, or suitable to a letter 2 :  contained in or carried on by letters 3 :  written in the form of a series of letters an epistolary novel – Merriam-Webster Dictionary What exactly is an epistolary novel? As Jenny Baum of the New York Public Library notes in a blog post, the word epistolary “is one of those words that are just fun to say or think about.” But not everyone knows what the term means. Readers, however, are familiar with the epistolary novel, even if…

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Cherish Your Valentines
Window display Patrick and Company February 2017

Cherish Your Valentines

Love is in bloom again as we approach Valentine’s Day.  Paper hearts and romantic cards are flourishing in all manner of stores - card shops, stationery stores, office supply, grocery, art, and drug stores; wherever, in fact, greeting cards are sold. So, get out your valentines, heart stamps and red pens and be ready to write some notes and lick some envelopes. Many people consider Valentine’s Day a modern day plot by card-makers, card shops, and other retailers to make more money. The cynics rue yet another symbol of commercialization. But a store-bought card is not…

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Love letters from Wisconsin, 1923-1925

By guest writer Catherine Roberts What is the interest in a small box of letters written to my Aunt Lois about 90 years ago?  I find history, a big mystery, and stories that connect me to my family and Wisconsin. As I get older I become more curious about the early lives of my mother and her five sisters. Genealogy interests me not at all, but I love the stories, and now it is too late to ask. I have nothing like these letters. What happened to this serious romance? Why did my aunt, and then my…

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Social Correspondence: 2015 in Review

As 2015 draws to conclusion, it is notable that the most read post of the year in Social Correspondence was Letters to Myself, the story of the amazing Alan Blackman and his exquisitely designed calligraphic envelopes featuring stamps from around the world. On Gratitude, published for Thanksgiving, attracted hundreds of readers, as did Letters from France 1917–1919; Office Supplies; Postcards from Notables; and Letters from Wisconsin. The commonality among these posts was that they focused, for the most part, on stories about people, as reflected in their letters. Many people write letters and/or send cards to…

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Pen Pals

From time to time, a sweet story about pen pals crosses through my news feed. These stories, which originate from all over the world, often involve long-time pen pals who meet after many decades of knowing one another only through letters. I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda, with Liz Welch (Little Brown and Company 2015) is a different kind of story. It tells of two young pen pals who, through their six-year correspondence, bridged politics, perspectives, miles and cultures in ways that changed not just their lives, but many others. In…

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The Missing Postmarks

When did the postmark on our letters go missing? By postmark, I refer to the round circle that once included the date, time of receipt and location of the post office. Generally, the circle was stamped to the left of the cancellation, those wavy or straight lines that partially cover the stamp(s) to indicate that the stamp has been used. I was reminded of this absence recently by the marketing efforts of a certain coffee company promoting a new first edition blend, using a version of the classic circle. Although our first class, stamped mail still…

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