So is this a thing in cities all over the world and I've just never been aware of it? That love letters are written randomly on walls and streets? Or is this just the magic of Italy? From top to bottom: "With my heart and soul, an 'I love you forever.' To my only princess", taken on a wall outside of Fiesole; self-explainatory on a wall on Costa San Giorgio; and "Silvia, I love you. I know that these months have been hard but I want to be with you," witten on a small road near Galluzzo. "The two of us forever," wirtten on a path near I Tatti.

99% Invisible: Stamps!

Thank you to John R. for pointing me to this episode of 99% Invisible on desiging postal service stamps. I loved learning so many new facts about the design process (what do you think? Do you love the breast cancer stamp design? I've always found it busy..but now that I know it is supposed to be a representation of Diana, I'm coming around). One small correction: the alcoholism stamp was not "stamp out alcoholism," as the interviewee states (I may be wrong about this...correct me if I am). It was a lot worse. It was "Alcoholism: You can beat it" (above). Which really isn't message you want to send to your recipient (but it is one of my favorite stamps).


What a relief to welcome the first day of autumn-- the fall semester, sharp new pencils, soup. During our drive across country we stopped at the Petrified Forest National Park. In addition to the very autumnal colors on display, my favorite part was an exhibit at the park's modest museum. At every turn, there's a reminder admonishing the removal of even a nugget of petrified wood. The letters above come from remorseful thieves. "Nothing in my life has gone right," since I stole the wood, says one letter. The other: "My life has been totally destroyed since we've been back from vacation." I couldn't help but notice they were written in the fall, before the year's end. Something about the season and making things right...

Looking at these colors I was reminded of a Fyodor Tyutchev poem I studied long ago:

At autumn's beginning
There is a short, but wondrous time
When days seem made of crystal
And evenings are radiant…

Also: this Kitchen Sisters' piece on blacksmith and forager Angelo Garro is an inspiring way to ring in this season of bounty.


History of U.S. Postage from Kathryn Davenel on Vimeo.

Jamie recently sent along two philatelitc links of note. The first is fun animation by Kathryn Davenel  and the second is the "big reveal" going on at Beyond the Perf -- they are debuting a new 2012 stamp every day for the next week or so. How great that USPS tapped Louise Fili to design the new love ribbons stamp (you can learn about the history of love stamps here). Fili's work has always been such an inspiration. Above, a few of my favorite logos that she's designed. It's enlightening to read about before and after redesigns, like the one for Good Housekeeping. I just ordered her history of "Scripts" that came out in May. Can't wait to share! & thanks Jamie!

{images via Louise Fili}

153 - 154: 6.3 + "this is very important"

One of my very favorite paper stores in Berlin was Druckerei J. Müeller (Neue Schonhauser Str. 16) in Mitte. The shop is tucked away in a courtyard and offers a charming mix of very official looking rubber stamps, old metal type, and products they produce in-house. Here, three of my favorite. First, these blind press note cards that I sealed with some washi tape (bought at  R.S.V.P, a reader suggestion -- thank you Surfire!) for gratitude letters 153 + 154. Second, and not a product per se, the stamped bag they give you, in Fraktur font, to contain your purchase. The owner folds the flap, punches a hole and inserts a brass clasp. So thoughtful. And finally, they print these quittungen, or receipt books, on an old mechanical letterpress. I. and I ventured back to the printing area and talked to the man overseeing the production. He took a receipt, turned it over, held it toward the light and delicately stroked the back, where the impression could be seen. "For the people who use these," he said (and by people he means service people, business owners, shop keepers, etc.) "this is very important. Being able to feel these lines, and feel the texture." (And yes, the photo of this dear man standing next to his press didn't come out). The front of the receipt says "Original Letterpress    Druckerei J. Müller Berlin-Mitte." The man said that, even to his surprise, his customers refuse to use mass-produced receipt books because the seonsory experience, craftsmanship and paper quality is so important. This revered labor-intensive process for such an ephemeral product very much reminded me of the letterpress fax cover sheet Emily of EmPrint made for the YU Contemporary artspace (also the location of her studio). Emily, you have a septuagenarian kindred spirit thousands of miles away.


I had forgotten about this awesome stamp I picked up in England last summer. I think it's a good counterpoint to two patriotic stamps that have recently been released: William + Kate from the UK and the Statue of Liberty in the US that actually depicts the faux statue in Las Vegas. Let's remember more substantive philatelic decisions, shall we? This series commemorates sacrifices made during WWII, and the quotidian triumphs that led to victory. Including:

"Essential to the war effort thousands of unmarried young women were conscripted to replace men called up for the armed services on farms."

"Local volunteers, often First World War veterans were ready to fight in the event of an enemy invasion. Shown here is Doncaster’s ‘Broomstick Army’ still awaiting their uniforms and rifles."

"Essential to the war effort thousands of unmarried young women were conscripted to replace men called up for the armed services on farms."

And, pictured above: "As on the farms women stepped into traditionally male roles in industry to release men for the armed services."


I stumbled upon an adorable stamp shop, Reinhard Heinemann Philatelie (Kollwitzstraße 93), where I pawed through their first day of issue covers to add to my collection. The Netherlands really takes the cake for this visit. Above, some favorites. The bottom envelope is just perfect to my mind: the font, the font of the cancelling stamp, the thatched house illustration. The middle one commemorates the lower house of parliament. The top envelope highlights such a wonderful historical statistic: "Erasumus spent 10% of his income on postage." I know the feeling, Desiderius.

The Art of the Complaint: Seat 29 E

I implore you to read this letter of complaint over at Letters of Note. I think this is my favorite part:

I constructed a stink-shield by shoving one end of a blanket into the overhead compartment — while effective in blocking at least some of the smell, and offering a small bit of privacy, the ass-on-my-body factor has increased, as without my evil glare, passengers feel free to lean up against what they think is some kind of blanketed wall.