From the "Mailstrom"

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


Letters aloud

December 31, 2015

Inspired by Shaun Usher's Letters of Note, Letters Live [link no longer active] is a series of readings of letters - some old, some recent - by various performers. Some of the readings are on the website, and searching in Youtube finds more.

The advantages of being flat

December 13, 2015

Here's an article [link no longer active] about one of the results of a pen pal project built around the children's book Flat Stanley, about a boy who mails himself around the world. A teacher in Canada started the project of having students mail a replica of the two-dimensional character, and the article showcases two families who have been communicating by mail for several years as a result.

Putting pen(cil) to paper

December 1, 2015

There are a number of letter-writing sites with links to fountain pen manufacturers and collectors and forums - but here's a bit of a switch: an article about the joys of writing with pencils. There are links to stationery sites as well, but one of the particularly fun ones is the link to CW Pencil Enterprises.

"...the personal touch..."

November 14, 2015

Despite a couple of nods to modern technology, here's a recent, heartfelt paean to letters, specifically those between pen pals.

Giving new meaning to the term Post Code

October 29, 2015

Hand-drawn postcards aren't new - but a couple of artistic women have taken the idea to new levels, with a year of hand-drawn cards reporting on their week in code, which is often in color. And not just any code - they make one up each time, and execute it in abstract drawings that are different each week. The cards are hard to describe, but many of them can be seen in this article, and all of them on the women's shared blog, although it currently only has 44 weeks.

It's new!

October 16, 2015

Hope you like our new website design! It's the first major change since we started the website in 2003. We tried to make it easier for people to use, easier for us to maintain, and friendlier for mobile devices. We had a lot of fun re-thinking the various pages, and are still adding to the Explore page. Enjoy!

The glorious beauty of envelopes

October 9, 2015

British publisher Klaus Flugge recently published a book, Letters to Klaus, of a hundred of the artist-illustrated envelopes he received over a period of three decades. A description of the book can be found here, along with a selection of the envelopes; a slightly larger and different collection is here.

The glorious messiness of letters

September 24, 2015

That's part of what author Leah Thomas likes about them, and part of what she's put in her first novel, Because You'll Never Meet Me, written as a letter correspondence between two teenage pen pals. In this interview she talks about the novel and her personal love/hate relationship with writing letters.

Still going strong

September 13, 2015

In some places postcards have declined in the digital age along with letters. That's not true in Sweden, though, according to this article.

You may almost already be a winner

September 2, 2015

Want to know what time of day the latest junk mail will arrive? Well, that's not the only thing some people are suggesting digitization of the mail will eventually achieve, but it might happen, according to an article on the subject. Of course, for those who still write real letters, knowing what to look forward to is easier, and the uncertainty as to which day it will come (much less which hour or minute) might only add the pleasure of anticipation to the mix.

Speaking of creative postcards...

August 15, 2015

You could also try to beat the record for the selling price of a used postcard. It won't be easy, though - a card sent by Picasso (unsuccessfully, since he addressed it improperly) recently sold for $188,000, the largest amount ever for a single card.

Want to see your creative postcard online?

July 28, 2015

Keep Writing is a postcard writing project in which the originator poses a question or topic each month and asks for postcards about it, then puts one or more of them on the blog. The numbers at the top only go up to 49, but click on Archive to see more.

That works out to about 110 feet an hour...

July 14, 2015

Here's a report [link no longer active] of delivery speeds that even a snail could probably beat...

A most surprising find

June 27, 2015

Occasionally we've mentioned that it's possible to find great bargains on stationery at garage sales, sometimes even in the free box. (And once a collection of miscellaneous stationery we bought for fifty cents or so turned out to contain over thirty dollars worth of stamps between the pages.) A man in Indiana had a much more amazing find - a collection of letters written during the Civil War.

Seven decades later

June 13, 2015

World War I wasn't the only war in which letters became lost (see previous post). In 1941 letters were taken from a post office in the Ukraine; today the museum [link no longer active] where the originals came to rest is sending copies to the recipients - or in many cases their descendants - whenever possible.

Rescued at sea

May 27, 2015

Ever wonder what happens to letters being carried by ship if the ship goes down? Some of them end up in museums [link no longer active], like this one at Bath, England, showcasing letters recovered from ships that sank during World War I.

Stamp Out Hunger

May 7, 2015

That's the name of this Saturday's National Association of Letter Carriers' food drive in the U.S. Non-perishable food left at mailboxes will be collected and delivered to local food shelves; in some areas plastic bags are being provided to make donation easier.

"...between worry and pride."

April 16, 2015

A new exhibit at the Brooklyn Historical Society showcases a number of letters, photographs, and other items from the American Civil War. Letters included range from jaunty to lovelorn to grim, and include a single letter from a black soldier (borrowed from another exhibit rather than contributed from family-attic stashes as apparently most or all of the rest are) to a penpal he met through a newspaper ad. The exhibit continues for another year.

"Sincerely Yours"

March 31, 2015

Letters, stamps, and postmarks are featured on the Corelle Sincerely Yours [link no longer active] dish set. What will they think of next? Thanks to a subscriber for letting us know about this 16-piece dinnerware design.

Advice letters

March 14, 2015

It never occurred to us that "Dear Abby," famous for answering letters seeking advice in her syndicated newspaper column, had the time to reply to any of them, much less all of them. That's what this article about letters to Agony Aunts [link no longer active] seems to be saying, though - although it's not clear what percentage garnered a personal response as opposed to being answered by "her staff."

"It's just a letter"

February 24, 2015

Several years ago we wrote a blog entry about a letter that former CIA Diretor Richard Helms received as a young child - written on Adolf Hitler's personal stationery. Now another letter on that stationery has been donated to the Holocaust Memorial Museum, this one written by an American Jewish soldier who spent a short time in one of Hitler's apartments near the end of World War II.

Abraham Lincoln letters

February 9, 2015

In Issue 34 we featured an article about condolence letters sent after the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. That wasn't the first time, of course, that such letters were sent, and the site Abraham Lincoln - Citizen of the World [link no longer active] contains an online exhibit of many condolence letters sent in 1865. They're mostly official letters, from town councils, mayors, committees, banks, and similar organizations.

"...that amazing feeling..."

January 22, 2015

That's what journalist Janet Kinosian remembers about reading real letters, and to see if she can revive it she's resolved to write 5 handwritten letters per month in 2015. Sounds like a good plan to us!

Price inelasticity

January 11, 2015

When U.S. postal rates increased a year ago, the decision technically made the increase temporary, and since then various parties have been appealing to the courts to make it permanent or roll prices back (right...) Much of the arguing has been about how much higher rates will cause mail volume to decline, and whether the interplay between those factors will result in more or less revenue for the USPS. At this point it appears that most mailers aren't significantly cutting back (have you seen a decrease in the amount of junk mail in your box?), meaning that revenue has increased a bit with the rate increase. You can read all the numerical details here.

Back to top