Posted on Mar 30, 2015 in All Blog Posts, Romance

“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.”

Phyllis Theroux

With so many venues open for the world to reach us today – email, twitter, texting, fax, phone, newspaper, television, internet, etc., why do we work so intently to screen, delete, expunge, edit, cancel and eliminate 99% of information from reaching us? Because it arrives uninvited and unwanted. Yet, who among us would toss away a handwritten letter unopened? (Savvy direct mail marketers learned this secret over two decades ago and began using handwritten fonts for junk mail, but we soon caught on.)

When a study was done with hidden cameras near clusters of mailboxes, researchers discovered 97% of people opened a handwritten letter first. (The only mail that occasionally trumped a letter was a check.)  Not surprisingly, bills were often opened last. Ah, but how often do we receive a handwritten letter in this day and age?

This children’s handkerchief celebrates the joyful arrival of the postman. The happy song explains that from a distance you can hear the horse’s hooves and the joyful blast of the postman’s horn.

 

writing002

“And none will hear the postman’s knock

Without a quickening of the heart

For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?”

H. Auden

Depending on your age, you may remember how exciting it was as a child to receive a birthday card or special greeting in the mail. Surprisingly, it may seem even more special to receive a handwritten missive as an adult, as you’re now well aware of how our hours can fill and days disappear. Knowing someone took special time from their busy schedule to focus just on you makes the message all the more cherished.

writing004

 

The handkerchief above depicts a pen and ink rendition of “Blowing A Kiss” based on the 18th Century painting by Jean Baptiste Grueze. Described as “a lady en dishabille holding a letter at a window,” it appears her beloved penned a love letter before departing, and perhaps left it on her pillow.She holds the note in one hand, while appearing at the window to offer a last good-bye kiss.   What a lovely hankie to either give or receive. writing006

“In every letter, in every line, she saw him.  He hadn’t changed –

he’d only grown into the man he’d meant to be.”

Diana Peterfreund, for Darkness Shows the Stars

In those days pens were carved from feathered quills, as these handsome handkerchiefs attest.

Note the handclasp reaching across the miles.

writing008

“It’s funny; in this era of e-mail and voice mail…a plain old paper letter takes on amazing intimacy.”

Elizabeth Kostova, The Swan Thieves

For some reason this handsome gray hankie with brilliantly colored quill pens in inkwells brings to mind the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

writing010

 

Quills and letters “Pour les Tendres Messages” on the left, and sealed with loving hearts on the right. Handkerchiefs were such popular gifts for both acquaintance and loved ones, it’s not surprising we find so many that contain images of affection.

writing012 writing014

 

Often, when leaving a good-bye kiss on a letter, a lady would apply extra lipstick to ensure her lips left an indelible impression. Afterwards, a hankie was required to blot her ruby reds. Kissing a letter was so common,love letters became a favorite theme of the lipstick handkerchief.

Pearls, love letters and the ace of hearts, juxtaposed alongside a claret hued love letter, sealing wax, candle, and letter opener.

writing016 writing018

 

Stationery from The Plaza awaits the penning of a love note, while alongside we spy a desk blotter with sketches of hearts and a note affixed with sealing wax.  The red strip on the right reads “Pour le Rouge” leaving no doubt this is a lipstick handkerchief.

writing020 writing022

“Your letter – your dear, warm, true-hearted letter – was put in my hand.

I kissed it how many times before breaking the envelope!”

Byron Caldwell Smith, letter to Kate Stephens

In Pat Conroy’s book My Reading Life, the author writes of meeting Archibald Rutledge, poet laureate of South Carolina at his Hampton Plantation home.  “His handwriting looked like jasmine weaving through a trellis.”  What a great metaphor. He goes on to describe Spencerian script “like bold and graceful dancers or the billowed sails of a schooner running leeward in a heroic seascape.” Wow. “But we’ve lost all that,” he laments. “Now the letters look like school children in simple rows.” Indeed. We lost character and personality when we lost the art of handwriting.

“To find out your real opinion of someone, judge the impression you have when you first see a letter from them.”

Arthur Schopenhauer

The fehlschuss in fluffy skirt and flouncy hat may appear to be penning a letter nonchalantly, but her words say otherwise. Seven days she has been waiting for him and can’t help but wonder how long it has been since he has thought of her?

writing024

“There must be millions of people all over the world who never get any love letters…

I could be their leader.

Charlie Brown

Perhaps she envisioned a thunderstorm of love letters for her intended, much like the shower we witness below.  Can you guess my favorite thing about this hankie? The image is superb, but the detail of the teensy airmail border is what takes it over the top for me. Details like this raise the hankie one notch above the others.

writing026

 

If our fräulein doesn’t hear from her beloved soon, a letter to Dear Abby may be in order. This Advice to the Lovelorn hankie is a hoot. (If you collect long enough, you can find a hankie on almost any subject.)

writing028

 

When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that 26 little letters can join in endless combinations to spell love, passion, heartache, happiness, and more. Long live the alphabet!

writing030

 

The variety of type fonts almost resembles the variety of stamps you can find on the envelopes.  What a terrific royal blue border resplendent with cancellation stamps.

writing032

Perhaps it’s the street lamp, or French bicycle messenger, but this next hankie brings to mind the suspense thriller Charade, filmed in Paris, starring Audrey Hepburn (as Reggie Lambert) and Cary Grant (as Peter Joshua). With her husband found murdered, Reggie is being chased by his three pals, all of whom were in on a plot to steal $250,000 in gold meant to support the French Resistance, but which they kept instead. Reggie has no idea where the money is. All her husband left was a letter addressed to her, a ticket to Venezuela, and multiple passports. Everyone overlooks the obvious – THE STAMPS on the letter. Her husband converted the gold to priceless collectable stamps – much easier to transport, and more difficult to detect. writing033

 

To enhance your viewing, Henry Mancini’s terrific theme song from Charade.

 

writing035

 

writing037

This handkerchief reveals that Stamp Language is based on love and friendship. If you think stamp images are insignificant, you’ve never been in a post office line behind a stamp afficianado. Check the next wedding invitation you receive – I’m willing to wager the stamp’s subject is love.

writing039

 

Even if only a postcard, we’re happy to know someone is thinking of us.

writing041

 

This 1956 letter from Morocco contains a silk crepe souvenir handkerchief. Ribbons hold the hankie secure at the corners. Once folded, there is a designated place for the letter – in this case, a charming love letter. Note the French spelling of correspondence.

writing043 writing045

 

Another fun souvenir hankie, this time featuring a cablegram from Australia. Before the internet or expensive transatlantic phone calls, cable was the most expedient way to convey a timely message.

writing047

 

Whether postcard or package, whether shipping by air, land, or sea, man will always find a way to transmit his intended message, as this next hankie so aptly illustrates.

writing049

The hankie above is so colorful and fun we had to add two terrific tunes to accompany it.

Please Mr. Postman

sung by The Marvelettes, 1961, written by Georgia dobbins, Brian Holland, Robert Bateman, Freddie Gorman, William Garrett

 

Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours

Written and sung by Stevie Wonder, 1970

 

This lady’s writing desk contains all the essentials – blotter, ink well, quill pen, candle for sealing wax, stamps, poetry books for inspiration, pictures of the beloved, albums, folios, and paperweights. But not just any paperweights; these are millefiori, or ‘a thousand flowers’ paperweights.

writing051

 

Early collectors of millefiori paperweights included Queen Mary, Queen Victoria, and Napoleon III’s Empress Eugénie, among others.  Today, there are an estimated 20,000 collectors. The colorful and intricate one-of-a-kind paperweight designs allow for a variety of graphic interpretations on handkerchiefs.

“All a good letter has to do is make you feel special.”

Animal Crossing: Wild World

writing053

 

Ink wells and feather quill pens bordered by a collection of millefiori.

writing055

Although the technique has been around for 2,000 years, it wasn’t until around 1840 that millefiori was used in paperweights. Three of the largest private collections (one of which contains over 2,200 specimens) can be found in the United States. The tiny black and white rods you see in the paperweight on the right contain signs of the zodiac.

writing057 writing059

“The tender word forgotten,

The letter you did not write,

The flower you might have sent, dear,

Are your haunting ghosts tonight.

Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

 

Just for Fun

Here’s your trivia question for the day:

Q: What role did Vicks VapoRub play in U.S. postal history?

A:  It was the first junk mail in the U.S. In the early 1900’s,  Vick’s creator Lunsford Richardson persuaded postal authorities to let him send promotional samples to random addresses around the country without including the recipient’s name on the package, as previously required. He was allowed to address his samples to “Boxholder,” today’s equivalent of “Occupant.”

Interesting Postal & Post Office Facts (must be a tweet in here somewhere)

  • Highest – Alma, CO – 10,578 ft. above sea level
  • Lowest – Death Valley, CA – 282 ft. below sea level
  • Coldest – North Slope of Alaska: Barrow, and Wainwright
  • Hottest – Death Valley, CA
  • Wettest – Mt. Waialeale, near the Kapaa Post Office, HI
  • Driest – Death Valley, Ca
  • Smallest Post Office – Ochopee Post Office, Ochopee, FL – 61.3 square feet
  • The longest Main Street in America is located in Island Park, ID and is 33 miles long.
  • The shortest rural mail delivery route is Route 0007 in Moody, AL, where the carrier travels 2.1 miles each day and delivers to 286 boxes. (I guess everyone knows everyone in that town!)
  • The longest rural mail delivery route is Route 081 in Mangum, OK, where the carrier travels 187.6 miles each day (!!) and delivers to 240 boxes.
  • The most unusual mail delivery method involves mule train deliver in Arizona. Each mule carries 130 lbs. of mail, food, supplies and furniture down the 8-mile trail to the Havasupai Indians at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  The mule train averages 4,000 pounds of materials each day.
  • Other unusual delivery – Boat delivery on the Detroit River in Michigan. The JW Westcott is a 45-foot contract mail boat that delivers mail to passing ships. The boat has its own ZIP code – 48222.

7 Comments

  1. 4-26-2015

    Wow! Amazing, as always! Ann, all of these need to be in a book!

  2. 4-28-2015

    Happy to read this one! It has inspired me to write a few messages to friends and family!.

  3. 4-29-2015

    Great read, Ann! I am always amazed at the unusual hankies you keep finding …. just when I think I’ve seen them all! And I really like the postal tidbits, as my mother and sister were both Postmasters. 🙂

    • 4-30-2015

      How cool is that! Please do send this along,as I’m sure they’ll get a kick out of it.

  4. 4-29-2015

    Fabulous, as always !!!!!!

  5. 5-4-2015

    What a wonderful surprise to learn of your superb talk on Hankies, as I had also great memories of you from decades ago with handwriting – and surely must have your book hiding at the time. Sunday morning I even found a dear white hankie with pink diamonds appliqued beautifully! Yours looked cotton crisp where appropriate so now I have much to learn. Your email details – great generosity of a true educator – loving to learn and sharing. YOUR HANKIE STORIES are full of joy and memories -THANK YOU ANN! Your postage hankies – a delight for I have had my Japanese pen pal since we connected at age 13 years, 3 days apart. We still love to send each other cards with all sorts of thoughtful stamps. Packages to Ireland also had oodles of celebratory stamps. Now to mail cards before Thanksgiving! Thank you again sincerely for a tremendous talk for the Textile Arts Council.

    • 3-11-2017

      Just reviewing some work and came across your kind comments to my blog on writing and postage. Only now did I realize I never responded to thank you for your kind words. It does make a difference and it keeps me going in my quest to preserve these artifacts for future generations. Mea culpa on my tardiness and Merci to you.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *