You may not know it (even though I’ve mentioned it in the past) but I love writing letters and mailing them. I love buying and using stamps. Love sealing wax. Love mail art and faux postage. I get this from my mother who started me on stamp collecting at a young age. She herself collected postage stamps and whenever a new commemorative came out, bought a plate block for each of us. (Definition: A plate block is a block of stamps with the margin paper (selvage) still attached to it. It also contains the serial number of the printing plate that made the stamp.)
You can get them as shown above or as first day covers usually (shown below). My mom chose a very affordable hobby.
Problem was, like other things she “collected” they aren’t really worth more than their original value, in some cases far less. Other “collectibles” included Royal Copenhagen and Bing and Grondahl Christmas plates (both she and my Aunt HAD to have one for every year), and assorted “exclusive” plate designs from the Bradford Exchange and Franklin Mint companies. All at about $80-90 a crack. (I enclosed the links so you could see the junk they sell…no other word for it IMO.) When I went to sell these “priceless” collectables which I inherited about 12 years ago, I found they were worth only $5 or so. See what I mean? So they became “dessert plates” for me.
What’s really wild is that I just googled Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates and it shows “replacement” plates going for $150 to $400 a piece! They’re shown side by side with Etsy listings selling for $10! Insane.
Anyhow, I have millions of commemoratives, with denominations as low as six cents. As a result, I’ve started using them on my correspondence. Yes, I still write letters and mail them. There’s something comforting about engaging in a dying art. Slows your world down just a bit.
Of course I go through all the stamps and gather a collection of values, color and themes. One I recently put together was black, white and one color. Others have been shades of green, blue, holiday, halloween and so on. There’s no end to combos other than your imagination. I also have plate blocks of fake postage. One is from France and has statues from the Louvre. These are fun to mix in with the real postage.
I must confess, I wind up using more than $0.44 on a letter because I’m going for the visual effect. Plus, I won’t use all the stamps I have in this lifetime. Usually I go into the P.O. and have such correspondence hand-canceled. This also gets a lot of smiles and grins from the employees working the counter. The faux postage always gets a double take as they thump the hand cancelation stamp all over the assortment. One note of caution however, should you decide to try this, I recently discovered that one can’t just willy-nilly toss them in a blue P.O. drop box. No, apparently such posted letters can confuse some of the postal people and delay delivery for up to four weeks.
Having sent my friend in Wisconsin a letter several months ago, I emailed her to see if she received it. Nope. Hmmm? So I sent a test letter noting the date I dropped it into the box. That’s how we found about the, in this case, four week delay.
Interested in more on fake postage? Just google “faux postage” and you’ll find a plethora of links. This one is for images and the source also appears. I had a lot of fun going through the different sites. You can also check out the books of the following artists on Amazon: Nick Bantock, Lenore Tawney and Claudine Hellmuth to name a few. Yes, I’m definitely having too much fun, just found this short video on Nick Bantock.
More of Nick Bantock, his books:
I’ve always enjoyed playing with the postal system. It’s a challenge to see how far you can push the envelope (ho, ho, ho…I know sad pun) 🙂
Back in school when the Cold War was in full swing, I heard if you wrote to the Chinese government requesting a copy of Chairman Mao’s “little red book”, you’d receive one in English, free! Okay, how do you resist that? Fast forward several months and lo and behold, there it was in my parents’ mailbox.
I could just see my pre-teen self on the FBI’s black list of subversives. In fact, a number of years ago I worked for a government contractor doing technical drawing. Since some things were “top secret” everyone had to get security clearance and be finger printed (this was pre-9/11). Wondered if the little red book would be in some unknown file on me…guess it wasn’t because I was cleared. Whew!
When I went to Hawaii for the first time, I sent myself a coconut via the USPS, how could I not? Also have one that was sent to my Great Grandmother by a relative who was in the islands in the 40’s. Throughout college my envelopes became more and more artsy as I learned about Mail Art. I had four pen pals at the time BTW.
All the above came about when I once again got lost on Pinterest and then via link after link, was suddenly at this blog which had a cool idea.
It’s a blog about home schooling and this seems like a great project since children have so little experience with penmanship, sending letters and using the postal system. It’s something fun to do between yourself and a friend who lives across the country! If you go here, you can see her results. The author also explains it and gives you directions of how to do the same via a link. I’m extremely tempted to try this.
Wouldn’t it just add a bit of fun to an otherwise boring day for some postal worker out there? Wonder what would happen if I sent it to my friend in the Netherlands? Dare I? Or would it just get lost in customs? Hmmm…I’ll have to think about this. I wonder if security people along the way would dismantle it to be sure it wasn’t something to worry about?
Sorry, know this was really long, thanks if you got this far. 🙂 Hope your day is filled with childlike wonder.