In the Middle Ages, wax seals were used to protect an envelope’s contents and to indicate the sender’s identity (aristocrats often used their family crest to seal a letter). While such seals are unnecessary in today’s correspondence, they do add a some panache to the envelope. And a girl like me can’t help but fall victim to nostalgia, especially when it comes to letters.
I am completely taken with the P.S. Write Soon stamp series (I gushed about them here last week!). The postage was issued on February 25, 1980 to commemorate National Letter Writing Week. How great is that?! The face value was a mere fifteen cents. Best of all, each sheet had multiple designs, all of which needed a good lick to stick. The stamps focused on the importance of letter writing, using phrases like “Letters Lift Spirits” and “Letters Preserve Memories”.
I recently snagged a full sheet of sixty on ebay–victory! Do you have a favorite stamp? I’m also quite taken with the recent love stamp issue–swoon!
P.S. More exciting vintage stamp news!
Adam and I live in a charming pre-war building in New York City. Besides the moldings and the proper foyer, my favorite feature is our mail chute. A clear shaft runs from the top floor of the building straight to the lobby where a letter box awaits. Envelopes have been known to get stuck in between floors, so I avoid the chute when it comes to very important correspondence (bills, checks, etc.). But our post man empties the letter box daily!
A little bit of mail chute trivia: the McGraw-Hill Building had a mail chute which often became congested (the building has 50 floors). Cinder blocks had to be removed to dislodge more than 40,000 pieces of mail. The rescued envelopes filled 23 postal sacks. Needless to say, the mail chute was shuttered shortly after the recovery efforts.
P.S. The 102-story Empire State Building still has four functioning mail chutes!
I purchased a pigeon and am eagerly awaiting it’s arrival from Italy (perhaps he/she was a messenger for the papal conclave?). A pigeon friends! And because my feathered cohort’s arrival is delayed, the lovely ladies behind the Letter Writers Alliance sent me another membership. And along with it, a snazzy patch that takes me back to my Girl Scout days. The LWA is dedicated to preserving the art of letter writing — “neither long lines, nor late deliveries, nor increasing postal rates will keep us from our mission!”
I just looooove mail! The best mail comes from readers and like-minded letter writers. A couple of weeks ago, I opened up p.o. box 1219 and not one, but two letters were waiting for me. Yay! Both ladies made promises to write more letters in 2013, so I decided to send them each a letter and some supplies to help them make good on their goal.
A while back my Mom and I found ourselves in Chicago. And a trip to Chicago is not complete without a stop (read: a full hour of browsing + buying) at Greer. Greer is one of my all-time favorite stationery shops. As I’ve mentioned before, Chandra’s expertly curated collection is what my dreams are made of, really. But I digress. As I was paying for my discoveries I noticed “The World’s Smallest Post Service” and swooned. A girl of my stature (5’11”) is easily awed by small things. My Mom surprised me with it weeks later.
I’m a habitual list-maker. I get such satisfaction from crossing things off a to-do list (in full disclosure, sometimes I add tasks to the list that I’ve basically already completed, just for the sheer joy of the cross-off). When I pack a suitcase, a list becomes completely essential. And even though I never forget, I always add “postcard stamps” and “muji pen” to the list. I know, nerd alert! But I delight in sending postcards and who knows if your hotel will have proper postage?!
I recently discovered a modern update to the postcard: Moleskine’s Postal Notebook. And while it requires a bit more postage than your run-of-the-mill postcard, I think its genius. The notebook is pocket-sized, perfect for toting around while sight-seeing and noshing on local cuisine (the real reason I travel). When you’ve filled the eight pages with your musings + sketches, an included adhesive seals your travel tome. The cardboard cover has space for your recipient’s address and all you need is proper postage!
Sometimes a postcard doesn’t really cut it when you’ve got a whole European adventure to relay. And how fun would this be for pen pals who share a friendship in letters?
What do you pack first when going away? Do you still send postcards (please say yes!)
P.S. Thanks Mr. Washington for the long weekend + Happy early Birthday!
Friends, I’ve been known to travel for stationery. I will actively research a city’s “stationery scene” before boarding a plane, just to be sure I miss nothing! Sympathize with my travel companions (namely Adam) who have traversed the country in the name of pretty paper.
I first happened upon Greer while visiting my friend Tayler in Chicago. Ever since, its been on my must-stop list when visiting the Windy City. If you’ve never been, you’re missing out. Chandra is a paper goddess. Her collection is expertly curated and full of surprises at every turn. I could spend hours in her lovely shop, and I never leave empty handed. If you’re not local, she has a great assortment online too.
One of my favorite discoveries, is a Greer Chicago original: Civilettes. They’re small in stature (not much bigger than a matchbox), but pack a whole lotta love. Trust me. I delight in slipping these into Adam’s briefcase or sock drawer when I’ve done laundry. It’s nice to remind those you love just how you feel.
The Love Notes collection features a simple “I love you” in classy script. The back of the card warns to “Please reuse responsibly” –love that! What a lovely Valentine! Best of all, there are notes for a job well done or a simple thank you.
P.S. “Civility is not a sign of weakness” taken from John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speech, is Greer’s company motto. They commissioned the ubber-talented Hammerpress to create a poster. You can buy it here!
In July I stumbled upon a mixed media piece at the Westport Fine Arts Festival. The artist (who’s card I have fretfully lost, and therefore name I cannot remember, please comment if you know!) discovered some college dorm mailboxes, complete with alpha-combination locks. He transformed them into wooden boxes, perfectly sized for letters and tiny treasures. I couldn’t resist the Alice In Wonderland appeal. And a mailbox–I just had to have it!
The art went up on the wall and has since doubled as a mailbox for love letters. Adam and I take turns leaving each other notes and the occasional treat. He was skeptic at first–of both the art and the commitment to letter-writing. But he came around (in full disclosure–now it’s his first stop on the apartment tour). If the mailbox is closed + locked, you’ve got mail! When its open, lovely origami cranes beam back at you.
Nothing warms the heart like a love letter. Do you send your lover letters?
Confession: Valentine’s Day is my second favorite holiday (it is hard to top Christmas). And its just thirteen days away! Cupid is stockpiling arrows. And I’m turning my thoughts to love letters–the ultimate valentine. Nothing tops a heartfelt missive on paper. But perhaps some edible airmail could come close? I set to work in the kitchen.
I rolled out sugar cookie dough and used a knife to shape envelope-like squares. I also made a few hearts–I just couldn’t resist.
Using an xacto knife, I cut cherry and blue raspberry Airheads into airmail stripes. I used a mini cookie cutter to make some hearts and mixed a batch of Royal Icing to give the cookies an extra kick of sugar (and a nice envelope-white surface).
I spread a thin layer of icing on each cookie and decorated them with the airmail stripes. The mini heart made a perfect stamp for my mail!
Such a sweet treat deserved an extra special delivery. I packaged the cookies in kraft boxes (more hearts!) and penned a quick note.
With the Airheads logo in mind, I tied a red balloon to each box and ding-dong-ditched the cookies at unsuspecting friends’ doorsteps!
I just love sweet surprises! Are you planning to surprise anyone this Valentine’s Day?