Friday, April 9
Thursday, April 8
“National Card and Letter Writing Month is an opportunity for all Americans to rediscover the timeless and very personal art of letter writing. Both in times of peace and conflict, cards and letters are the most effective way to share and permanently record our thoughts, prayers, hopes and dreams.”
As quoted by Postmaster General John E. Potter.
- Courtesy United States Postal Service http://www.usps.com/
Wednesday, April 7
Even before Great-Grandfather was toddling years ago, the only way to communicate with far away family and friends was to create a handwritten letter and send it away en post. The letter was crafted to be deserving of its cost to create. The expense of paper, ink, envelope and postage were occasionally proven to be a hindrance to the communication of isolated families with their folks. US postage rates in 1792 were at 6 cents per one sheet letter to a recipient not exceeding 30 miles away. Prices then increased incrementally until one was paying 25 cents for single letters to go to recipients more than 400 miles away.
In 1850, farming wages are estimated to have been as low as a paltry $0.40 per day in some of the more depressed areas of the country. In such cases, when the family trade garnered so little income, the stipend for entertainment was simply nonexistent. Certainly, postage allotted for casual letters to family or friends was regarded as a luxury with a prohibitive price.
By 1851, the cost of posting a letter was lowered to 3 cents per ½ ounce and could be sent up to 3000 miles away. This proved more affordable, but still, on a farm income, which had the potential to be meager and infrequent, postage stamps, stationery, and supplies were not guaranteed sundries. On occasion, more affluent relatives would send writing supplies and postage to help ease the prohibitive costs, which would otherwise inhibit the flow of precious correspondence.
Current postal rates do not demand nearly as large a percentage of our daily income as they once had. Yet, the fierce competition the Internet has waged with the postal service has given consumers a considerable edge with regard to the speed of delivery of their communications, and “snail mail” has become the widely accepted offending slang term used for the current US postal service. Crafting a note and sending it via digital means is certainly faster than old fashioned habits, but letters received in such a manner are robbed of some of the most charming personal aspects that are present in a handwritten letter. The rewards of a personal letter in the mail box are innumerable, and sadly, those rewards are largely missing today.
The challenge is to recapture the lost art of the handwritten letter.
P.S. The image is of the first general issue United States 10 cent Postage stamp from July 1, 1847.
The image is of the controversial Rice Portrait of Jane Austen, by British society painter Ozias Humphry (1742-1810). It is one of the single most disputatious and intriguing literary portraits in existence.