Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The Link That Made Me Come Back:

Been away so long I hardly knew my face...

Various events in our lives have necessitated my absence from this page, as once was documented in my companion blog, "Bringing Ivan Home." Always meant to come back here, though. As a stopgap, here's a fun link we can all enjoy.

Lileks.com is a treasure trove page maintained by a columnist for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, whose office seems to be too close to the paper's morgue. He's scanned and posted tons of oddball print stuff like old comics, ads, postcards, matchbook covers, what have you. Why I'm writing about it today is this:

As a youth in the 1970's, I was a stamp collector (explains a few things, doesn't it?). My hobby involved sending away for First Day Covers; envelopes with a special cancellation signifying the date a new stamp was issued, available on that day only in the First Day of Issue Post Office. To get this cover, you would send that post office a self-addressed envelope and a money order to purchase said stamp. For collectors, though, a blank envelop just didn't have the right pizzazz. Instead, they bought envelopes printed with a fancy engraved design based on the topic of the stamp.

Usually you bought the covers from ArtCraft. You could get nicely engraved envelopes at 2 for 35 cents back in the day. But while the engraving and printing was very nice, sometimes the actual design was, say we say, not quite awe-inspiring. The actual part of the body that was moved was a little further south. Just click on the link above and you'll find out. Though philatelists sometimes complained that the US Post Office was slow to bring contemporary designs to its stamps in the 1960s, we can see that these guys were dadaists when the stamps were stuck to an ArtCraft cover.

And if you're curious, most collectors don't pay any more for "cacheted" first-day covers than they would for plain white envelopes. What counts most is that the stamp is placed nicely and the cancellation is complete and legible. And like many aspiring artists, I took to designing my own covers, which I'll try to remember to get scanned and posted.