Thursday, April 27, 2017

USPS reveals new first-of-its-kind 'Total Eclipse' stamps

Today, the U.S. Postal Service announced plans to release a new, innovative postage stamp featuring an image that will change with the heat from your finger.

The Total Solar Eclipse stamps initially show an image of the sun completely blacked out by the moon. But, a second image is hiding beneath. Using the body heat of your thumb or fingers and rubbing the eclipse image will reveal an underlying image of the Moon. The image reverts back to the eclipse once it cools.

The stamp features an image from a photograph taken by astrophysicist Fred Espenak, aka Mr. Eclipse, of Portal, Arizona, that shows a total solar eclipse seen from Jalu, Libya, on March 29, 2006. Espenak also took the photograph of the Full Moon featured on the stamp.
The Total Solar Eclipse stamp commemorates the upcoming solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017, which will be seen throughout most of the United States, although the total eclipse will be visible only in a 70-mile wide path that will track across the sky from Oregon to South Carolina, according to predictions. For more information on the eclipse, visit the NASA website or eclipse-dedicated sites, such as Information also is available from the USPS in the stamp announcement.

The Forever First Class stamps will be released in a First-Day-of-Issue ceremony at 1:30 p.m. June 20 at the Art Museum of the University of Wyoming in Laramie. 

On that day, the university will celebrate the summer solstice, and before the stamp ceremony, visitors may witness an architectural feature of the building where a single beam of sunlight shines on a silver dollar embedded in the floor, which occurs at noon on the summer solstice in the UW Art Museum’s Rotunda Gallery.

This is the first U.S. stamp application of thermochromic ink. The inks are vulnerable to UV light and should be kept out of direct sunlight as much as possible to preserve this special effect. To help ensure longevity, the Postal Service will be offering a special envelope to hold and protect the stamp pane for a nominal fee.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Celebrating World Stationery Day!

Today, April 26, 2017, is known as World Stationery Day, in conjunction with National Stationery Week and the London Stationery Show, which wraps up today. The theme of this year's World Stationery Day is "Writing matters."

On the World Stationery Day website, there are quite a few examples of why writing matters, including an A to Z list of reasons.

To me, writing -- as in handwriting a letter on real paper -- matters because it is a personal connection between the sender and the receiver. It's a tangible communication, something both people involved actually touched.

From another perspective, that of a writer, (hand)writing matters because it allows my thoughts to flow onto the page in a way that typing on a computer or phone keyboard doesn't. Some things that are in my mind just need to be written by hand on paper.

Why does writing matter to you?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Don't Forget the Cards!

USPS cards
As I mentioned back on April 1, the U.S. Postal Service officially named April as National Card and Letter Writing Month back in 2001. Many of us shorten that to simply Letter Writing Month, but we really shouldn't forget the cards!

According to a 2016 report by the Greeting Card Association, Americans buy about 6.5 billion greeting cards each year. Yep, that "billion," with a "b."

I know many letter writers think of greeting cards as less personal than a handwritten letter, but it's important to remember that the two aren't mutually exclusive. Just because you send a card doesn't mean you can't also write a letter. And, just because you enjoy writing letters doesn't mean you can't fold it up and put it in a pretty (or funny or touching or ironic...) card.

There are so many different types of cards nowadays and in such a wide price range. If you're budget-minded, check out the dollar stores. They often have nice cards for 50 cents or less. On the other hand, you can buy a customized greeting card for $35 on Etsy. And, of course, there are many, many cards at every price in between.

Maybe you can even buy greeting cards at your local post office. There's a rack of cards at my post office! And, there are some cards -- both notecards and greeting cards -- on the USPS website.

One of the great things about cards is that they often have professionally written verse, so if you can't think of the perfect thing to say, you don't have to worry about it -- someone else thought of it for you!

So, when you're writing letters this month, don't forget the cards!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Letter Writing Month Wraps Up This Week

As the United States' National Letter Writing Month comes to a close this week, National Stationery Week is just getting started in the UK.

If you're looking for some inspiration in your letter writing, here are a couple of articles that will provide all the encouragement you need:

* Joy Bailey, a 27-year-old from Grapevine, Texas, is featured in The Dallas Morning News. She has a website,, about the letters she shares with the world.

*  In Camarillo, California, Julie Merrick has long known the power of writing letters. She turned that knowledge into a TEDx talk, "The Gift That Can Last Forever." You can read more about Julie in an article in the Ventura County Star and on her blog, A Letter A Week.

Now, go write some letters!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Earth Day is April 22

Tomorrow, April 22, is Earth Day, which began in 1970 as a national day to focus on the environment. The U.S. Postal Service is celebrating Earth Day this year by continuing and encouraging others to practice good recycling. The USPS recycling program is known as USPS Blue Earth; you can read more on the Blue Earth website.

Letter writers (and receivers) around the world can join in by recycling as much of what comes in the mail as we can. If your community has a recycling program, use it instead of the trash can to dispose of unwanted paper, cardboard, plastic, etc. Don't forget to reuse as much as possible, too. Check to see if the paper, envelopes, boxes, packaging material and more can be reused, either in their original form or altered in mail art projects.

One way to support the USPS and to add a bit of "green" to your mail: Purchase some of the upcoming "Green Succulent" stamps. They are for First Class International letters, at a value of $1.15 (for a 1-ounce letter). The round stamp features a photo of the echeveria plant. They aren't available yet, but you can pre-order the stamps online.

Happy Earth Day and Happy Letterwriting!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

He'll mail it for you

Ryan Epp, a former computer science student at Temple University, has created a new service -- mailing letters to Congress. According to The Temple News, the student newspaper, Epp came up with the idea when he wrote a letter to a senator but didn't have a stamp. He searched for a service that would mail the letter for him, and when he couldn't find such a business, he started one -- Snail Mail Congress.

Anyone wanting to write a letter to a U.S. senator or representative can write their letter on the website, pay $1.28, and Epp will format and print the letter. Then, he'll put it in an envelope, address it, add postage and mail it. The service even offers a tracking service.

On his website, Epp says that the fee covers only the exact cost of the paper, envelope, postage, etc.

If you'd like some tips on How to Write Your Congressman/Woman, check out my February blog post on that topic.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Patriot Letters

Boston was a busy city Monday, with both the annual marathon and the Patriot's Day Parade taking place yesterday. The marathon may have lasted all afternoon for some runners, but the parade was over in less than an hour. Immediately following the parade was a reenactment of Paul Revere's April 18, 1775, ride to warn people of the approaching British troops.

More information about Paul Revere and that famous ride are available at the Paul Revere House in Boston, which is also hosting a letter-related event. If you're in Boston today and tomorrow -- April 18 and 19 -- you might want to drop by the museum, located at 19 N. Square in Boston, and take a look at the collection "Your Own, Paul Revere" which features some of the letters written by the Revere family and their friends.

Those attending will also get a chance to see examples of vintage postcards sent by tourists in the 19th and 20th centuries. According to the Paul Revere House website, some postcards in the collection feature the Revere House, others showcase the surrounding North End neighborhood. Everyone will also have a chance to practice their quill pen writing skills and make a postcard to send from the Revere House.

From the Northeast Document Conservation Center
Another interesting Paul Revere-related letter story is about the "Lost" Paul Revere letter, dated May 2, 1775 -- almost 242 years ago. According to an article by Julie Martin on the Northeast Document Conservation Center website, the letter was taken to the Paul Revere House, where its authenticity was immediately recognized. The museum worked with the family that owned the letter to allow the NEDCC to do some restoration work on the old and damaged letter. The letter was treated and then digitized so that further study could be done without injuring the original document.

According to the site, later, the museum was able to acquire the letter for its collection.

What a letter writing history!
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