Nostalgia for the USPS?

February 8th, 2013

Today, we bought this delightful accordion-pleated souvenir postcard album at a flea market in Sarasota.

Printed in the first decades of the 20th century, it includes twenty-four color views of the architecture, public parks, and activities that snowbirds in the Roaring Twenties might have enjoyed in Orlando, Florida.

Some of the Orlando postcards in our souvenir packet
Some of the Orlando postcards in our 1920’s souvenir album

Pondering the impending loss of Saturday postal service in 2013, we find it hard to imagine that anyone today would entrust such a lovely bundle to the United State Postal Service without first packing the album into a small box—or at least protecting it with a padded or water-resistant envelope, especially during the winter season.

Canceled postage on the postcard album
Front of album

But in February 1921, someone did exactly that—turned these lovely images over to a carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. The writer mailed them, naked, save for a stamp and good wishes, to the intended recipient, a Mrs. Wilber in Belleville, New Jersey. Presumably they arrived in good enough shape to be treasured for decades before they returned to Florida in the inventory of a flea market vendor, where we found them.

Interior of the postcard album

Here in Sarasota, where it’s been sunny and in the high 70’s for most of the past week, we think of our readers, colleagues, and family in the Northeast as Blizzard Nemo blows and blankets the region in white.

And we remember an ironic inscription “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” which graces the facade of the James McFarley Post Office in Manhattan.

Broadway Post Office, New York, N.Y.
Inscription designed & engraved by Ira Schnapp (1892-1969)

We’re nostalgia junkies who would like to continue to believe in that unofficial motto, even if our fragile Floridian ephemera and collectible sheets of U.S. 39-cent snowflake stamps endure longer than the sentiment a young Austrian immigrant and master engraver, Ira Schnapp, carved into stone.

Snowflake Stamps
Snowflake Stamps
(Based on original snow crystal photos by Dr. Kenneth G. Libbrecht)

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