USPS Releases Mister Rogers Forever Stamp
Mister Rogers Forever Stamp

USPS Releases Mister Rogers Forever Stamp

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, as the mother of young children, Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on PBS was my hero. Mister Rogers taught children his wise and fulfilling lessons about the world and their own self worth, while also serving as a role model for parents. Many of the oft-repeated aphorisms of Mister Rogers have remained with me throughout my adult life. If I have not always practiced them, it is not because I do not believe them. Who cannot see the intrinsic value of being told, “There is no person in…

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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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Magical Mailboxes

It’s here again already - National Letter Writing Day is Sunday, Oct. 9. And what a pleasure it is when a real letter arrives in the mailbox. A letter separate and distinct from the usual junk mail that flows through the mail stream, which is now exponentially increased by the proliferation of election-related ads and flyers. Decades past, if one had a mailbox at the post office, the front of the box might have been made of glass, especially if the post office was very old. These mailboxes often included a combination lock, though usually a…

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Love Letters from Wisconsin Lumber Camps

By Catherine Roberts Life in the Wisconsin lumber camps in the 1920s, revealed through letters written to my Aunt Lois from 1924 – 1925, was not easy. The letters, preserved for nearly a century in a Milady of Quality Chocolate Covered Brazil Nuts box, tell a story about the everyday news and concerns of this long-ago way of life Aunt Lois, of course, was young and pretty, but not all of the letters addressed to her are love letters. One letter, postmarked January 14, 1924, is from a lumber camp outside Hannibal, Wisconsin. My aunt must…

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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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Letters to Myself: Alan Blackman

Alan Blackman has had a long and storied career, as an artist, calligrapher, typeface designer for Adobe, lettering arts instructor, and three years working for the U.S. Post Office at San Francisco’s Rincon Annex. By his own account, however, his most significant work is Letters to Myself. Letters to Myself was a personal project first undertaken by Blackman in 1968. His then 11-year old son Stephen lived across the bay in Berkeley, east of San Francisco. Through his work in the postal service, Blackman became familiar with “first day covers,” letters affixed with a stamp on…

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A Stamp Brouhaha

Postage stamp errors have been plentiful since pre-paid stamps were first introduced in the U.S. in 1847. Stamp mistakes often are related to spelling, color, using an incorrect image, or perhaps printing an image upside down. None are more likely to cause a brouhaha, however, than factual inaccuracy. It is highly unlikely that the U.S. Postal Service intended to create a controversy, but a recently released Forever commemorative stamp has caused such a brouhaha. Issued on April 7, the stamp pays tribute to the late poet, writer, singer, producer and actress Maya Angelou. Ms. Angelou died…

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Philatelists Oppose Pop Culture Stamps

Philatelists are not happy with the trend toward stamps that feature pop culture and music icons, such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix and now, Janis Joplin. Nor do they favor movie stars or cartoon characters, such as Bugs Bunny, or the Simpsons, the stamps issued in 2012 that resulted in a revenue loss of $1.2 million for the U.S. Postal Service. This may be shortsighted on the part of traditional stamp collectors. Apparently these new stamps not only sell well, but for the most part, also help to develop new generations of stamp collectors.…

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How To Save a Post Office

  The people of Berkeley, across the Bay from San Francisco, know how to put up a good fight. Their most recent battle is to save their historic post office building from being sold by the United States Postal Service. Berkeley, as is often the case, is going against the grain. Post office buildings and postal sorting centers around the country have been consolidated, sold, leased and downsized as the U.S. Postal Service struggles with monumental debt. Different jurisdictions react to these sales in different ways. Palo Alto, another Bay Area city, made an offer to…

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