The ABC's of Letter Writing
Click on stamp for more information.
ABC's of Letter Writing / A = Address
A—for address . . . because without it, your letters, cards, and notes go nowhere!
The ABC's of Letter Writing / B = Birthday
The Greeting Card Association watches trends and sales and reports that birthday cards are “by far” the most popular everyday cards sent.
They also report that, “Younger card buyers and those who are more technology savvy are currently the ones most engaged in buying paper greeting cards online.”
Good news for online retail shops and anyone hoping to get a birthday card in the mail.
Wish someone a happy birthday by sending a card . . . a small but notable gift.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / C = Cinderella
Our series, the ABC's of Letter Writing, is in fact a series of Cinderella stamps; stamps that look like postage stamps but have no value as postage.
It's a challenge to design for such a small space . . . it's important for the stamp to be legible at a small scale. With this stamp I experimented once again with Illustrator for the lettering and used a vintage illustration of a pumpkin.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / D = Dear
Dear . . . it's the most common of all salutations, in handwritten and printed letters. In emails, things are different. "Hi," and "Hello," are common, though some experts argue "Dear" is still the best way to begin an online correspondence with someone you don't know. What do you think?
The ABC's of Letter Writing / E = Envelope
Though most correspondence is slipped in to an envelope, that was not always the case. Lettersheets, distributed by the postal service, were common in the 18th and 19th centuries. Lettersheets were simply a sheet of paper used for writing, then folded and addressed on the outside to become self-mailers.
Lettersheets can still be used, but envelopes are more common. You can make your own envelopes from decorated or plain papers, or purchase them from paper companies, printers, or office supply stores.
Here are some common sizes:
A-2: 4.375 x 5.75" / Enclosure: 4.25" x 5.5"
A-7: 5.25" x 7.25" / Enclosure: 5" x 7"
#10: 4.125" x 9.5" / Enclosure" 4" x 9.25"
Monarch: 3.875 x 7.5 / Enclosure: 3.75" x 7.25"
Be aware that the USPS has requirements for standard envelopes sizes (ratio of height to length). Envelopes that fall outside the proper dimensions will require additional postage (minimal cost), but may be worth it!
Do you make your own envelopes and/or stationery?
The ABC's of Letter Writing / F = Forever Stamp
In 2007 the United States Postal Service created Forever Stamps for First Class letter mail. When you buy Forever Stamps, they hold value for First Class letters, even if postal rates increase.
If you have a stash of Forever Stamps in your desk, you'll save when rates increase; the stamps you bought at the lower rate are good for the increased rate. No need to add penny stamps or additional postage to cover the increase. A Forever Stamp is good, well, forever!
ABC's of Letter Writing / G = Greeting Card
Americans buy over 6 billion greeting cards a year. Amazing. More than 80% of those cards are purchased by women. According to the Greeting Card Association, birthday cards are the most popular, followed by a mix of others including thank you cards, sympathy, get well, new baby, and congratulations.
ABC's of Letter Writing / H = Handwriting
Do you worry about your handwriting? Unless it is impossible to read or entirely illegible, try not to worry about it. It's what makes your letters so special. Really.
ABC's of Letter Writing / I = Ink
Whether you use a ballpoint pen, a fountain pen, gel pen, or marker, they all need ink. Technology has improved ink flow and splattered ink is rare, but smudges, bleed-throughs, and dry pens can still be an issue when ink is involved.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / J = Jot It Down
Not all correspondence needs to be pages upon pages. If something comes to mind that you'd like to share, or you see something that brings someone to mind, jot it down. With room enough for just one or two sentences (three, tops), postcards and note cards are the perfect size to reach out and let someone know you're thinking of them.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / K = Keepsake
It happens all the time. Whenever a conversation turns to letter writing, someone pipes up and mentions the letters they've got tucked away in a drawer or box. Whether they are letters, cards, and notes from friends, grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents or siblings, they are treasured. Why is that? Letters, cards, and notes make people feel special. Sometimes there's one special note of encouragement or praise that stands out. Other times it's the frequency. "My grandmother wrote to me everyday when I was at college." No matter the content, frequency, or who it's from, mail is tangible; proof that someone cares about you. It's something to hold onto.
Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death
When Patrick Henry, Revolutionary War activist and politician, made a call to arms against Britain, he grabbed a letter opener, thrust it toward his chest and delivered his well-known line, "Give me liberty, or give me death." Very effective.
My collection of letter openers comes from antique shops and yard sales, and often feature personal engravings or business logos. A surprising selection (though far less ornate) are available at office supply stores, while stationery stores and boutiques offer a selections with more character, like this one I found at Izola.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / P = Pony Express
The Pony Express started in 1860 and ended just 18 months later when the telegraph was introduced. Employed with a dangerous and grueling job, Pony Express riders carried mail, newspapers, messages, and small packages across a 1,900-mile trail. Racing from Missouri to California, riders changed mounts every 10-15 miles, covering an average of 70-100 miles a day.
In contrast to our telephones, tweets, and overnight delivery, Pony Express riders cut east-west delivery times in half—from an average of 20 days to just 10 days, a remarkable feat on horseback.
The Pony Express National Historic Trail, highlights landmarks along the trail from California, to Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / R = Return to Sender
Elvis Presley's 1962 hit "Return to Sender" from the movie Girls! Girls! Girls! holds true today. If you get unwanted mail, simply write "Return to Sender" on the unopened envelope or parcel and the Post Office will take it away, no additional postage necessary.
I've had mail returned with the "Return to Sender" stamp when I've used an out-of-date or mislabeled an address. Takes a while, but it does come back.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / S = S.W.A.K.
Put S.W.A.K. (Sealed With A Kiss) at the end of a letter or on the outside of an envelope, and your intended's heart may skip a beat. Another way to express your feelings is with x's and o's (for kisses and hugs), as many as you want!
The ABC's of Letter Writing / Z = Zip Code
The Z-stamp is all about the zip code. We decided on 20002 because it's the zip code for the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C.
In 1963, in an effort to streamline delivery across the United States, the zip code was introduced. A massive campaign was launched to encourage people to add the five-digit code to mailing addresses. Mr. Zip was introduced to build awareness, appearing in advertisements, on products, and in comics.
Easy, fast, and efficient, zip codes are now standard procedure, enabling the postal service to route mail directly to processing centers for faster delivery.