From the "Mailstrom"

Tidbits, this 'n' that from around the web about letters and letter-writing, selected by Lex editors, Gary and Lonna.


Neither snow nor ice nor hungry eagles...

December 30, 2007

In some places this time of year, various forms of frozen water laying around on the ground can make the mail a harrowing adventure. Not so for the residents of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, though. They rise above the situation by sending and receiving letters by Owl Post. Of course, various forms of frozen water falling down from the sky can be a problem for mail carriers with wings...

The first Christmas card

December 18, 2007

If you've ever found a box of decades-old Christmas cards in an attic, you know how different they used to be from the cards being sold today. Ever wonder what the very first ones looked like? Bridwell Library at Southern Methodist University has a copy of what is generally thought to be the first mass-produced Christmas card [link no longer active], dating back to 1843; handwritten versions go back several more centuries. A history of Christmas cards with numerous early examples can be found at the web site of the Livaudais family. And to see some non-English examples, check out the Odessa Numismatics Museum's online collection.

The Oblinger Letters

December 12, 2007

There are lots of books collecting the letters of the famous – literary, political, and scientific figures – but sometimes the most interesting are the everyday letters of ordinary folks, those who had no hint that their writing might ever be of interest outside their family and circle of friends. Many of these collections are online at the web sites of historical societies, personal web pages, and academic institutions. One such is the Oblinger family letters from the Nebraska State Historical Society's collection. About 3,000 pages of letters written by Uriah and Mattie Oblinger and others from 1862 to 1911 are presented in both text and image format – some are cross-written, like the example presented in LEX Issue 8, a method of writing 90 degrees across the main body of the letter in order to add more without needing another sheet of paper, a valuable commodity on the frontier. The letters are searchable by subject, and the site includes interpretive material as well.

Getting to be that time, part 3...

November 25, 2007

Mailing Christmas cards or letters from Canada? Canada Post has a 3-part chart [link no longer active] showing the recommended dates for them to be in the mail in order to get where they're going in time. Still plenty of time (but it's always amazing how quickly the sands run through the hourglass) if you're mailing by Letter-post within Canada or to the U.S., but if the envelopes are going farther you might want to hurry, since tomorrow is the International send-by date.

Getting to be that time, part 2...

November 18, 2007

If you're mailing holiday cards or letters from the U.S., the chart of mailing dates isn't as much fun to use as the U.K. version, but it's online too – go to the USPS Holiday Press Room [link no longer active] and click on the November 9 press release to see when mail is recommended to be in the system for Christmas delivery.

Getting to be that time...

November 12, 2007

Yes, soon it will be that time when many people send the most personal mail of the year (or the only personal mail of the year) – the Christmas card season. British Royal Mail has a cool way of making sure your cards get delivered on time – an online calculator [link no longer active]. Just pick the destination and the type of delivery, and the calculator will tell you when you need to have the cards in the mail. Some of the deadlines are coming up already – if you want to mail from the UK to the USA by Surface Mail, for example, to be sure of delivery by Christmas you should have the cards in the mail by two weeks ago. Air Mail, and First Class within the UK, has a little more leeway.

Spooky stamps

October 31, 2007

Remember the Canadian "Supernatural" stamps that we mentioned in last year's Halloween blog? (See below.) Those aren't the only ones – Belgium and France issued some in 2004, with a more cartoony feel than the Canadian stamps, although those from Belgium do have a little eeriness about them.

Now that postage is available from private companies, you can also find quite a number of designs, ranging from Edward Gorey-inspired line drawings (Gothic Postage Stamps [link no longer active]) to the painted (artist Gina Signore's black cat [link no longer active]) to poster-style [link no longer active]. If you're used to getting stamps at the post office the custom stamp prices are a little scary, but well within reason for a special effect for holiday letters, or just for fun.

So long, R2-D2

October 23, 2007

If you've been meaning to check out one of the USPS mailboxes painted to resemble the Star Wars™ character, better be quick, because on (or perhaps beginning on, the press release isn't clear) October 25, they'll be moved to US military bases. A bit late, we've finally tracked down a map [link no longer active] of all or most of the locations created by fans – we don't have the software plugin needed to view it (we're very cautious with security on the Lex computer), but it's followed by a list of the addresses/intersections where people have found the mailboxes.

The S weekend

October 12, 2007

Issue 14 is back from the printer! The color pages look great, and we think you'll like the photo spread too – we've been holding our breath, but one of the benefits of professional printing is that graphics come out much better than on the laser printers we use for checking as we work on the layout. Now come the S tasks – stuffing, sealing, stamping, and stickering (labeling, actually, but that's not as euphonious). Monday we'll be mailing – or perhaps we should say sending, to keep the alliteration...

Gettin' there

October 2, 2007

Despite the vagaries of computers – lots of trouble uploading the files to the printer this time, perhaps because the color pages increased the size significantly, or maybe it's the lack of sunspots – Issue 14 is beginning the print process. We're eager to see how the color comes out, having never had anything printed in color before. Timing is good for this issue – they should be delivered approximately on October 12, a Friday, giving a couple days to sit and flatten a bit before being mailed on Monday, October 15.

Fun with words

September 25, 2007

Did you know that Lex helps to "find the parts of big persons"? That's one of the results of putting our front page through the Babel Fish [link no longer active] translator at Alta Vista. Hours of hilarity await as the computerized program translates words and sentences without the benefit of a live interpretation. Here's one way to play: put a web site's URL into the "Translate a Web page" box and choose a language to translate it to. When the result pops up, copy some of the text, go back to the main Babel Fish page and put it into the "Translate a block of text" box, choosing the reverse language, i.e. Greek to English if you chose English to Greek in the first step.

If you were using human translators, the results should be pretty close to the original – some different wording due to the colloquialisms and shadings of meaning that make languages not exact duplicates, but the actual information should be accurate, and the grammar should be right. With the machine, though, the grammar can be wildly off ("They know palling never are, what represents above!"), and the actual facts way off the mark ("Helen Keller the contractor"), including the introduction or deletion of "not" changing the meaning entirely. Sometimes the result is even an improvement, such as this rather poetic description of Ghost Letters: "The letters of the phantom leave you in character". [2012 update - this link nows goes to a site owned by Microsoft, and although there are still some oddities, the translations are much more accurate, even when a block of text is taken through several different languages. It can still be fun, though, resulting in such phrases as "brag about contemporary events to your cat."]

The power of words?

September 16, 2007

We noted in a recent entry how seldom people seem to be selling stationery at garage sales – notecards, greeting cards, yes, but seldom actual stationery. So guess what we started finding, at more than one sale, the next week or two? Hmm. Let's see if we can extend that. "Ahem. You know what we seldom see people selling at garage sales? $50 bills at half price..."

LEX in the news

September 6, 2007

Today's Minneapolis-St. Paul StarTribune features a nice story entitled "For the love of letters" [link no longer active], about "a passionate group devoted to writing and receiving personal snail mail." Guess who the group is? Yes, it's Lex! The story came about when the reporter found Wendy Russ's wonderful site [link no longer active] about letter writing; Wendy, who's also featured in the story, suggested the reporter interview us too. Thank you Wendy!

Spunge tents and gidness

September 3, 2007

History buffs, healthcare workers, and hypochondriacs might be among those interested in Patients' Voices in Early 19th Century Virginia: Letters to Doct. Carmichael & Son, an online exhibit by the University of Virginia, consisting of approximately 700 letters written to Dr. James Carmichael and his son, Dr. Edward Carmichael, mostly by patients. They describe their symptoms, ask for house calls or delivery of medicines, offer free turkeys... The letters are organized chronologically, with a scan of the actual letter next to a transcript. One can search for names and places, by symptoms and treatments (a strong stomach helps here), or read an analysis by Laura Shepherd, M.D. of what the letters indicate about the way health and medicine were viewed almost two centuries ago.

Still more "More"

August 25, 2007

Another venue has been added for the Smithsonian traveling exhibition More Than Words: Illustrated Letters from the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art [link no longer active] ; the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, FL in early summer 2009. The exhibition is currently at the Georgia Museum of Art [link no longer active] at the University of Georgia; it will be moving to Texas in November, with stops in Kansas, Wisconsin, and Louisiana before winding up at the newly-added Florida show; still open for possible booking are late winter/early spring and late summer/early fall of 2008. We're looking forward to seeing the exhibition in Wisconsin at the end of next year.

Paper, paper everywhere

August 18, 2007

Yesterday we were pawing through some notecards at a garage sale looking for interesting ones (we're pretty picky), and we realized something – there are large amounts of notecards and greeting cards at garage sales, but very little stationery – we're still using some that we probably bought at least 5 years ago, and we've seen almost none since then. Not just none that we like, but close to none at all. So we started wondering – do people buy less stationery, or do they sell less because they've used it all? Our theory is that notecards are one of those things that people get lots of as presents, and since most people don't do all that much writing these days, a lot of them end up at garage sales. We'll bet that Lexers don't have large amounts of either type to try to get rid of – unless, of course, they came as presents from people with seriously different taste!

Dear Cassandra

August 8, 2007

Read all of Jane Austen's many letters and wishing more would be found? Check out this new letter [link no longer active] from Jane to her sister Cassandra (you might or might not have to register). Well, not exactly newly found, and not exactly from Jane, who probably never gave opinions on young ladies named Britney or the rise of "chick lit"...

We're touched by your concern

August 3, 2007

Some people have e-mailed to make sure we're OK after the incredible bridge collapse in Minneapolis this week. Yes, we're fine – a little spooked like most people in the metro area, since like much of the local population we had driven over the bridge fairly recently. In fact, a common topic of conversation at work, after checking that no one knows anyone directly involved, has gone along the lines of "When was the last time...?" And many people have said they feel an uncharacteristic nervousness driving over bridges these last couple days.

We didn't use the bridge daily, like many people – the last time we drove on it was probably a month ago, although we did drive under it on the parkway it fell on, on the south side of the river, 6 days before the collapse at about that time of day. Even spookier, Lonna drove under the bridge on the north side of the river just before it collapsed. Literally a minute or so before – she had gone about a third of a mile past it when she heard the crash of it falling, though neither of us knew what had happened til we got home and looked at the news to see why there were emergency vehicles going in that direction from more than 20 miles away. I went over there after work tonight to see if it had fallen on the street she had been on – it hadn't, although one span with multiple crushed cars had landed no more than 50 feet from that street. This was the northern edge of the collapse, about half a block north of the railroad car that was crushed.

Some of you may remember the historic railroad bridge pictured in Issue 6. The 35W bridge was about 1500 feet east of that bridge. It's quite eerie to look at that area now, because even from a distance, where the remains of the bridge in the water and on the river banks aren't visible, the open area and unobstructed view of the 10th Avenue Bridge a block east of where 35W was are quite a shock. It will take a long time before the sense of unreality completely wears off even for those of us not really involved, and we can hardly imagine the trauma for those who were on the bridge at the time, or the people who saw it happen and went to help pull people out of the water, or worst of all those who knew someone who was traveling in that area and couldn't contact them.

More "More Than Words"

July 25, 2007

The Smithsonian traveling exhibition More Than Words: Illustrated Letters from the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art [link no longer active] has added another venue, the San Antonio Museum of Art in San Antonio, TX. The exhibition there will run from November through January. This leaves three more time periods open for possible booking – early spring and fall of next year and summer 2009. We'll let you know if these spots are filled in or if any currently listed are cancelled.

Another art of letter writing

July 14, 2007

If one of the things you enjoy about letter writing is the tactile pleasure of paper, you might want to check out Envelope and Letter Folding [link no longer active], a web site with instructions on how to fold paper into letters and envelopes. There are more than 30 designs, including many origami-inspired ones such as crane, hawk, butterfly, or jumping frog. The graphic instructions are very detailed, although those of us not familiar with this activity might find them rather confusing – possibly a more 3-dimensional form of drawing, with verbal description, would be nice.

These designs are by John Cunliffe, who founded the Envelope and Letter Folding Association in 1988. ELFA published several booklets of designs, and as of 2003, he was apparently either sending or selling them; this site [link no longer active] gives an address in England as well as the history of ELFA. There is also a more recent group in The Netherlands, ELFA-e [link no longer active], whose site includes diagrams, history, and links to their Yahoo group. If you become proficient at this skill, you may never have to lick an envelope (except the ones that come with bills) again!

"The letter always arrives at its destination"

July 3, 2007

The newest marketing slogan for USPS/Canada Post/Royal Mail/Australia Post/et al.? No, this is a statement famous in the field of epistolary studies, by Jacques Lacan. Frequently couched in terms of postmodernism, structuralism, and/or literary critique, the study of letters – past, present, and fictional – is an active field at a number of colleges and universities. The discourse is often distinctly academic; a review of Thomas O. Beebee's Epistolary Fiction in Europe, 1500-1850, for example, notes that Beebee proposes "a 'pan-European' metaphysics of the letter, its feedback loops, power-gradients, and white-noise effects."

Reading the future

June 24, 2007

Several years ago there was a short web discussion on the pros and cons of writing letters now to be given to members of one's family in the future – a not-yet-met spouse, a not-yet-born child. The consensus was that there were some if-I-knew-then advantages (as the page sub-heading notes), but also some serious risks, particularly in the future spouse scenario. The full discussion can be seen here.

Reading the present

June 17, 2007

Issue 13 was mailed on Friday – some First Class subscribers (you're all first class to us, of course, but we refer to the postage...) could even have it now, although most should see it arrive this week. The USPS site no longer gives estimates for International delivery times, but toward the end of the coming week or slightly longer should be a good guess for most people, depending on location. Standard Mail is the most variable, with some coming this week and some possibly as late as the first week of July – ZIP codes starting with 0, 3, and 9 seem to be the slowest, but it all depends on the volume of mail going to any particular place. Whenever it arrives, we hope you enjoy our bright cover and find a lot of good reading inside!

Reading the past

June 12, 2007

Do you have letters or diaries from your ancestors? Or do you enjoy reading books or web sites of such, either for research or enjoyment? Then you might be interested in Making Sense of Letters & Diaries, an extensive online guide to using letters and diaries as historical information, by Steven Stowe, who teaches history at Indiana University. Topics include the differences between the two formats, the value for historians and those interested in the emotional life of people in the past, how to interpret them (including such details as the meaning of "D.V." in the middle of a sentence), the conventions of letters in particular eras (for example, why a 19th century girl named Mary might be addressed as Athena in a letter), and others. Many passages from letters and diaries are included, and there are links to more information, a list of web sites to visit, and sample exercises in text interpretation.

Forevermore – or just more?

June 3, 2007

By now you've probably seen and been using the new "forever stamps", the ones that can be bought now and saved to be used any time in the future, no matter what the First Class postage is at that time. The convenience of not having to buy stamps in little "make-up" denominations is obvious, but overall are these a good deal? Perhaps, but it depends a lot on how long they're kept before being used and how much the postage increases. Here's an interesting calculation we just made:

If forever stamps had been available 10 years ago, when the postage was 32¢, a roll of 100 would have been $32, obviously. Today they could be used to mail 100 letters for a cost less than stamps sell for now. But if that $32 had been put in a money market account at 5% interest, it would have increased to $52.12, and would buy 127 of today's 41¢ stamps...

Making progress

May 24, 2007

True to its number, Issue 13 is being a bit uncooperative in making its journey to the printer. Nothing insurmountable, just little inconveniences coming one after the other – for example, a book ordered from University storage is missing the one page we wanted it for, a scan of a handwritten letter we intended for The World of Letters. But the voting for the haiku contest is in and the prizes ordered, so all in all things are pretty much on track. Now we just need the weather to cooperate – we're working on the "Summer" issue with a space heater in LEX World Headquarters!

Higher and higher...

May 14, 2007

Today postage increases in the US. First class mail (i.e. most letters) goes up to 41¢ – postcards to 26¢. Most other charges are changing too, usually upward, although a few, such as the additional-ounce First Class rate, are actually going down. New Postal Pricing in 2007 [link no longer active] highlights some common changes and includes a link to more detailed info.

Did she or didn't she...

May 6, 2007

Of course, we all know letters are priceless... but sometimes they have a price. Recently a note written by hand in 1557 by Mary, Queen of Scots, at the age of 15, was sold on eBay for about $3200.

Not everyone in Scotland was happy to see this letter won by an American bidder. This isn't the first time there has been controversy over Mary's letters, however. A royal inquiry into the possibility that her second husband was murdered by her third husband (presumably with her involvement) revolved around eight Casket Letters [link no longer active] she allegedly wrote to him (the name comes from the silver box they were claimed to have been found in). The authenticity of these letters is in question, and some historians are convinced they're fraudulent, due to the handwriting and to mistakes in French grammar that she would have been too well-versed in French to have made, as well as the suspicious timing of their being found.

Less "More Than Words"

April 25, 2007

If you were planning to visit Arkansas next year to see the Smithsonian traveling exhibition More Than Words: Illustrated Letters from the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art, [link no longer active] it looks like you'll need to find another reason to go to that fair state. The Arkansas venue has been dropped from the tour's itinerary recently; it's still scheduled for California, Georgia, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Louisiana, with 4 more dates available in 2008 and 2009.

"Dear Friend: Why Writing Letters Still Matters"

April 16, 2007

That's the name of a very nice article [link no longer active] which appeared in various publications last week. It's always heartening to read about those who enjoy writing letters, and in this case there's an extra attraction for us – Lex co-editor Lonna was interviewed for this article. Our e-mail brings us a wide variety of inquiries, from requests for Lex information to offers to share secret tips about hot stocks (for a price, of course). And a couple of weeks ago a freelance writer asked if we would electronically chat with her about our experience in the world of letters. We're always glad to do that, and we hope you enjoy the resulting article as much as we do. Here's a link [link no longer active] to one of the sites printing it.

Another "More Than Words" exhibit

April 8, 2007

The Smithsonian traveling exhibition More Than Words, [link no longer active] which includes numerous examples of the hand-illustrated letters of American artists, has added a seventh venue, the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace in Yorba Linda, CA, from May 15 through July 17 of this year.

And today is...

April 1, 2007

LEX today announced a new location-based pricing structure. Beginning immediately, the cost of an annual subscription will be calculated by converting the ZIP Code of the subscriber's location to dollars – for example, if you live in Avalon, CA, with the ZIP Code 90704, your cost for one year of LEX would be $907.04. Conversely, a subscriber in Warren, VT, where the ZIP Code is 05674, would only pay $56.74. "We think this new procedure will more accurately correlate with the economic realities of the country, such as the higher gas prices in the West," said LEX co-editor Lonna Riedinger. Another way to look at it would be that your subscription rate will be the same as your ZIP Code in pennies. That person in Avalon would owe 90,704 pennies, in other words. "Of course, we won't be insisting on pennies only - we'll also accept nickels and dimes, as well as quarters if they have your specific state on the reverse," said LEX co-editor Gary Marvin. Subscriptions outside the U.S. would work the same way, with the addition of currency conversion – a Lexer in New Malden, England, would need to convert £KT33.RQ to US$ at prevailing bank rates.

Also, in accordance with truth in marketing principles, from today on we will, to match the name of the magazine, be forwarding only letters – T, for example, or H. "This will be a great boon to my correspondence," said Lexer Coral Hargatter. "My life isn't very interesting, and under the old system I ran out of things to say quickly. Now a single incident can be talked about for months." This new procedure will be welcomed especially by those who use text-messaging as they already are familiar with words such as "u" and "yr". We do recommend, however, dispensing with the traditional salutation at the beginning of an epistle – if you write as often as once a week, it will take you a month to start out with "Dear."

May the Force be on your envelopes

March 28, 2007

If you went to the USPS home page today, you might have thought at first glance that you were at a Star Wars™ site, complete with character images, a place to vote for the Galactic Empire or the Rebel Alliance... it's part of a huge merchandising effort for the Star Wars™ stamps that will be available beginning May 25, the 30th anniversary of the premiere of the first film. For the last 2 weeks 400 mailboxes across the country have been painted to look like R2-D2; there will be Star Wars™ Express Mail envelopes; you can vote for your favorite of the 15 stamps, and the winner will be released later this year as a single issue. You can even enter a sweepstakes and become a Jedi Shipping & Mailing Master (we're not making this up...really...)

Notice how they never go down...?
Mail early, mail often

March 23, 2007

On May 14, First Class postage in the US will go up to 41¢, and postcard postage will go up to 26¢. So if you've been thinking about responding to listings in Lex now's a great time. And before you use up all your 39¢ stamps, remember to send in new listings for the Summer Issue, because letter writers aren't about to let 2¢ stop them. Send in your Letters to Lex on the topic of memorable letter-writing experiences (the good, the bad, and the funny), and your haiku for the special contest, too – the deadline of April 15 is fast approaching (which reminds us of another little item that has to be in the mail by that date... sigh...)

"Letter Writer, Main Post Office, Saigon"

March 15, 2007

Before literacy was widespread, people who needed something written – a contract, legal document, or important letter – often went to a professional scribe who would write for them. In today's global world, the need is more often for a translator between languages. Last week's edition of Der Spiegel has an article about 77-year-old Duong Van Ngo, the last professional writer working at the main post office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, writing business letters, love letters, and mailing addresses, using a fountain pen to connect people across continents.

Perhaps Francis Bacon wrote his letters

March 7, 2007

The controversy over whether William Shakespeare actually wrote the plays and poems attributed to him goes back more than 200 years – among several writers often mentioned as possible authors, Francis Bacon is particularly popular at present because of claims that he inserted various codes into the works to reveal his identity to those who could solve them. Various reasons are given as grounds to question whether Shakespeare wrote the works, from mistakes in geography to questions of his family's literacy; it's also suspicious to some that there appear to be no surviving letters to or from the most famous writer in the English language.

Album stamps for stamp albums

February 25, 2007

British Royal Mail recently issued a set of postage stamps that in only a month has become the most popular non-royal stamp set ever sold. It's a series of 6 designed to look like stacks of Beatles albums, each stamp having a different album on the top and thus fully visible. Here's an article [link no longer active] about the stamps. These are by no means the first Beatles stamps – here's a site [link no longer active] that lists dozens of different designs, including a pun that may or may not be intentional – the Republic of Abkhazia's set featuring Marx and Lennon (Groucho and John)!

An 'interest'ing thought

February 12, 2007

If you sent us a check a while ago, even as far back as December, and are wondering why it hasn't cleared the bank yet, not to worry. We're even farther behind than usual in mundane things like deposits; we've both been working extra hours at our day jobs, and spending most of the rest of the time on Issue 12. We'll be depositing everything tomorrow, and we apologize for the long span – but the silver lining is that you get a little more silver, i.e. an extra month's interest on the amount we haven't put in yet!

Issue 12 is at the printer!

February 6, 2007

We sent the files for Issue 12 to the printer yesterday – there's one file for the cover, and one for what we call the "issue" and the printer calls the "guts". We hope everyone is looking forward to it – there'll be well over 200 listings, 4 extra pages, LEX history material, a (slightly) new cover design, and an announcement about the first of two special contests this year. No bathtubs, though...

Ever read your mail in the bath?

January 31, 2007

Most postcards have landscape scenes, famous buildings, or other outdoor subjects – but here's a site devoted to the art of the bathtub, [link no longer active] including hundreds of bathtub-oriented postcards, both historic, contemporary, and handmade. Bathtub cakes, articles on bathtub races and bathtub boats, and other surprising bathtub fun too!

It's not just for fun

January 21, 2007

As enjoyable as letter writing is, it can also be a means of therapy for psychological issues, including child abuse, cancer, eating disorders, and other serious situations:

  • an online course [link no longer active] called Health-Script includes training in writing letters as a means of resolving unfinished issues with another person;
  • an article in the medical journal Eating and Weight Disorders describes the use of TLR – Therapeutic Letter Writing;
  • an article [link no longer active] published by Correctional Service of Canada details an example of letter writing in the treatment of female prisoners with Borderline Personality Disorder;
  • an article in the medical journal Oncology Nursing Forum refers to letter writing for patients dealing with the body-image aftereffects of cancer surgery;
  • an article [link no longer active] (in the form of a letter) in the British Journal of General Practice mentions research showing that one letter, written by a therapist detailing the alternate ways of approaching a problem that were worked out in narrative therapy, can be as effective as 4 or 5 personal sessions.

Many other web sites and several books are available on this subject, for example Letters Home: How Writing Can Change Your Life by Terry Vance (a book which some feel provides a means for a healing catharsis, while others, including some therapists, find its focus on expressing anger a potentially destructive device).

Snail mail as the precursor of the modern age

January 15, 2007

"Before we became a nation of e-mailing, text-messaging, Blackberrying technology addicts, we had to become a nation of letter writers." So begins the press release for a recently published book, Postal Age: The Emergence of Modern Communications in Nineteenth Century America by University of Berkeley associate professor of history David M. Henkin. The book examines the popularity of long-distance postal communication in the 1800s and argues that it laid the foundation for an interconnected culture long before computers or telephones.

Those Christmas pens

January 7, 2007

Did you receive colored pens for Christmas like we did? If so, here's a suggestion for using them. The Graceful Envelope Contest [link no longer active] (mentioned below in September and March) is now accepting entries for the 2007 competition, with the theme A Mailable Feast. Envelopes will be accepted until April 30, 2007. Last year 41 envelopes were selected out of about 375 submitted, so everyone has a good chance.

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