Monday, December 27, 2010

If it could talk...


Last week, as I walked through the gate of our apartment building, the portinaia (doorkeeper) flagged me down to give me this package. It was the most interesting package, covered in all sorts of stamps from the UK, addressed to my husband.

"Oh wow," he said when I brought it into the apartment, "I didn't think that would ever come!" Turns out he had ordered some mosaic tiles from a shop in England, five weeks earlier. I asked him to save the package for me, so that I could photograph it. I was intrigued by this wrinkled envelope, covered in colorful stamps.

What stories would this package tell, if it could talk?  Could it tell me the story of why it had such a diverse set of stamps? Maybe someone had cleaned out their desk, and they were trying to use all of the old stamps that were left over when postage increased.



What about its journey? What would it tell me? How did it get to be so crumpled and rumpled, with the stamps peeling off? Why did it take so long? Maybe it was waylaid, because it needed to be hand cancelled. Or possibly it got stuck in some sorting machine. Likely the delay was due to Poste Italiane, famous for its inefficiency, but I like the fanciful stories better.

After photographing the package for a while, I decided to soak the stamps off and save them, for some craft project in the future. When a treasure trove of textured imagery comes your way, you have to take advantage of it. Reaching back into my brain archives, to a time in my childhood when I was a junior stamp collector, I taught Brandon how to remove the stamps without damaging them.

It wasn't until I had removed the stamps that I realized all of the stories they collectively carried with them. There was the College of Arms Quincentenary, World Hockey Cup London 1986, and Royal Mail 350 Years of Service. The Most Ancient & Most Noble Order of the Thistle Tencentenary of the Revival, The Domesday Book 1086 and The Queens Award for Technological Achievement 25th Anniversary can be added to the list. Some celebrate artists as well: Sea Pictures by Edward Elgay, a photograph of Alfred Hitchcock by Howard Coster, and a vase by Hans Coper. A total of 24 stories are held in the stamps on this one little package.

Normally we don't stop and notice the stamps on our mail. We don't stop to think of the story they are representing. In fact, it's becoming rarer to actually have stamps on our mail, with the decline of people sending personal mail and the increase in use of electronic postage. What luck then, to receive a package like this. It's a treasure trove of culture and history and art.


If any of my UK readers can fill me in on the story behind this colorful stamp with the yellow house and the green robot looking guy, I would love to hear it!

Today's 9 Muses Musing prompt is STORIES. I don't know about you, but I'm enjoying these prompts. They are inspiring me to tell stories I wouldn't have told otherwise. Tomorrow's prompt is TRADITION.

20 comments:

  1. I have wondered about the history of a package. When I am tracking one and it leaves Kentucky at 10am and hits Nashville at 330pm to settle in for the night before heading closer to me... If they could talk, what a Story they would tell. Great thoughts, Miss K!

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  2. I can just imagine how happy you must have been when you saw this colorful package :) Photos look great :)

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  3. what fun! i am awaiting a package that was sent to me from 9000 miles away by a dear friend in the USA. The stories it could tell of the journey!

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  4. Interesting! The photos are beautiful and I would be intrigued too if I get a package full of all kind of stamps like this.

    Inspiring post:-)

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  5. Lovely images to go along with a fanciful storyline!

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  6. i love mysteries like that! =)

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  7. I so love stamps and the stories they tell. This makes me want to cover a package in leftover stamps ...

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  8. That package just makes me smile and giggle. I can see why it was so fascinating to you. :)

    BTW--I got your post card!! It was such a treat to have mail from Italy. Thanks, Kat! You have a late Christmas card on the way. I hope I have enough postage on it! :)

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  9. It's a May 1989 commemorative stamp in a series called "Europa. Games and Toys". Here's a link to a page - http://www.collectgbstamps.co.uk/explore/years/?year=1989.
    There are three other stamps in the series, 19p, 27p and 32p.

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  10. Very cool. We once received a musical instrument from Iran and didn't even want to get rid of the cardboard box it came in, the packaging was so beautiful. Ha! Great post!

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  12. What a wonderful inspiration! Fabulous post that really shows your creativity at work, well done!

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  13. So fascinating - thanks for sharing this story.

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  14. I find it sad that people don't take the time to write hand-written letters anymore.
    What a great story and cool photos! Thanks for sharing them with us!

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  15. my sister runs a tiny little post office in the mountains of northern california, and she always covers her packages with fun stamps like this. they're so fascinating and fun.

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  16. Oh, I just love thinking about this package and where it's been! Loved reading about this.

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  17. Wow, how interesting... Loved this!

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  18. That is one great package!!!
    I'm glad you steamed off the stamps. They're a colourful collection.
    Excellent, excellent post!

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