Category Postal History

The Mail Runner

“In all communities which maintain any pretence at civilisation and up-to-date methods, an efficient postal service is an absolute sine qua non.” — Confederate States of America: Government Postage Stamps (1913) by Frederick John Melville Early in 1861, when his home state left the Union, John H. Reagan left the U.S. House of Representatives. Soon […]

About Fred’s Head

Frederick Bailey Deeming was bad in so many ways. A swindler and bigamist, he graduated to murderer when his first wife and their four children became inconvenient. He buried them under the kitchen floor of a cottage in Rainhill, England, and cemented them over. A few months later he killed another wife in Melbourne, Australia, […]

The Mormon Stamp

In 1864, the second edition of Standard Guide to Postage Stamp Collecting by Henry John Bellars and John Hunter Davie introduced a new rarity to stamp collectors, one which quickly became known as the Mormon Stamp. The stamp featured a crude, block-printed likeness of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. The […]

What Is Mail Art?

Mail art by George Henry Edwards, 1900 Whenever I read that mail art began “in the 1960s,” I roll my eyes. Mail art has been around as long as creative people have been mailing, and wonderful examples from the 19th and 20th century abound. [1] Mail art, 1873 Mail art by Hugh Rose, 1910 Mail […]

Devoted to Philately

Having passed my childhood in Kenmore, N.Y., and loving everything about mail and the post office, I was surprised when this postcard turned up, advertising the Kenmore Stamp Company in “the world’s most beautiful building devoted to Philately.” How did I miss that? As it turns out, I have an excuse: The company’s founder, Ernest […]

Places I’ve Been

Sorting through a gift of 700 postcards, I was delighted to find places I’d been. The Brock Monument in Canada. While my brother and cousins played in the park, my mother tied me to a tree, with about ten feet of slack, so I wouldn’t get lost. And then, before the picnic lunch, she washed […]

Strong Leaders

Since June 2020, the Trump-appointed Postmaster General has made strenuous efforts to undermine the USPS and slow deliveries. This will 1) make the USPS more vulnerable to privatization, 2) strike a blow at Amazon.com and its owner Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, 3) erode confidence in voting-by-mail, reducing the voter turnout, and […]

Postcards from Abbie

Postcards sent by my grandmother, Abbie Slocum Winship, to her brother, Homer Slocum, and his wife, in Niagara Falls, N.Y. On the back of this one, mailed in October of 1909, Abbie wrote, “Papa got the jars yesterday. Thank you very much for what it contained but we are puzzled to know what that fruit […]

Delivery

At times, I am amazed at the dedication and focus of postal workers. I had read that as the Titanic sank, Oscar Scott Woody, the liner’s Chief Postal Clerk, along with clerks John March, William Gwinn, James Williamson and John Smith, tried unto the last to save the mail, rather than themselves. Mi. #909-910, Sc. #B292-293 But only […]

Anthony Trollope

I am reading Masters of the Post: The Authorized History of the Royal Mail, a thumping big tome by Duncan Campbell-Smith, and I came across a passage that reminded me of a particular Waterloo of mine. The author noted that Anthony Trollope, who worked for the General Post Office before gaining fame as a novelist, […]