Saturday, August 8, 2020

Sharing Something You Enjoy

There are numerous activities that I personally have a good understanding of why people seem to enjoy doing them.  Gardening?  Well, I kind of do that professionally, but I get it.  Music?  Yes, I have enjoyed both playing and listening to music.  I even tried to (very badly) make up some of my own music once.  Collecting rocks?  Yep, did that too when I was a kid.  Once I started gardening, I started to collect good throwing rocks to scare the varmints out of the garden.  I am pretty sure that is not exactly the same thing.

And, of course, there are hobbies/activities that people partake in that I don't appreciate nearly so much.  Snowmobiling?  Off-road ATV?  No, I don't have an attraction to those.  But, that doesn't mean other people don't have good enough reason to enjoy these activities.  Some might appreciate the physical activity portion and perhaps they get an extra boost by combining their own power with the power the vehicle provides?  Perhaps they can see the world as it goes by from a different perspective?  

I bring both sides of this coin up for inspection because I do have hobbies that I enjoy very much when I give myself permission to do so.  Sometimes I wish I had more contact with others who enjoy these hobbies as much as I do so I could really dive into the subject as only a nerd can!  I am happy to share what I enjoy with others who have a passing or greater interest.  I always appreciate when someone lets me share at least a little and I try very hard to watch for signs that they have had more than enough!

In return, I remind myself that I should be patient and pay attention when someone else gifts me with some of their enthusiasm for something they enjoy.  Who knows what I will learn?  And, why shouldn't I also pay a kindness forward by actively listening?

Well - since this is MY blog, I get to do the talking here... unless you put in some comments at the bottom.  So, I am going to share a little about something I enjoy in hopes that you might appreciate it.  In return, feel free to share a comment with a little information about some activity or hobby YOU enjoy.  Why not?

What Does A Postal Historian Like in a Mail Item?

I am showing you an item from my collection that I enjoy very much.  Without getting crazy into the nerdy details, I thought I would point out some of the basic things that I like about it.  

  1. It doesn't really look as ratty as you might think a 147 year old piece of paper should look.  But, it is clearly that old.
  2. The handwriting is clear.  Nice penmanship!
  3. If I wanted, I could research both the sender of this letter (Louis Horster) or the recipient (Renstrom & Co).
  4. I can tell you where it started (Brussels Belgium) and where it was delivered (Gothenbourg, Sweden) and I can even determine most of the steps in between!
  5. The postmarks are clear and the dates can be read (this includes some markings on the back of the envelope) so I can puzzle out even more about how this piece of mail traveled and how quickly it went.
  6. I can even figure out how the money from the 40 centimes in postage paid by stamps in Belgium was split between Belgium, Germany and Sweden.

In short - it looks nice, it provides enough information so I can figure out a puzzle or two AND it connects me to a point in time of history, so I can research connected stories of the past.

A piece of mail doesn't have to be that old to get my attention.  In fact, it can be a bit messy looking and still be of interest!  The item above is from World War II.  This was a piece of mail sent to a serviceman in Italy.  Unfortunately, this person could not be found as they had been killed in action.  

I appreciate this one for the story of real people who struggled through a difficult time and suffered the loss of a loved one.  The story reminds me of things that I should not take for granted and helps me to honor others for the lives they have led.  On top of all that, this envelope gave me a number of puzzles to solve as well.  I call that a great piece of postal history.

And, sometimes, your lovely bride just sighs and throws up her hands!

Tammy and I have a bit of a running joke about the purple stamp you see on this envelope.  You see, every young stamp collector who got packets or bags of stamps would be at least mildly dismayed by the sheer volume of this particular design that showed up in every, single envelope of mixed United States stamps.  I bet her once that someone had actually put together an exhibit of mail pieces featuring this stamp.  Admittedly, that's hard to believe because you really would have to work to make one of the most common stamps interesting.  Nonetheless, I did win the bet when we saw such an exhibit some years ago.

But, the item above illustrates how that could happen.  It is a letter from Des Moines, Iowa to Venezuela during the World War II period.  The United States was still neutral at this point.  Even so, the tape at the left shows that the military censors had checked the contents.  Even more interesting is that this item was carried via air mail, which was still a pretty big thing in 1941.  

Some history.  Some puzzles to figure out how the mail item traveled.  It is fairly clean and clear.  You can figure out who the recipient is.  You could explore air mail or military mail censorship in WW II.  In all, it is something a postal historian might enjoy.

There you are!  Thank you for letting me share.  If you only tolerated this - then many many thanks!  If you enjoyed it, you are welcome and many, many thanks!

Your turn to share something with us!


  1. Great blog post! With my interest in WWII-era philately, I really appreciate the second and third covers. The first cover is much earlier than my areas of interest but is clearly a wonderful item. One of the great ancillary benefits for those of us afflicted with the philately gene is the friendships developed as we pursue our interests with our collections. Our friendship goes back to the Minnesota Stamp Expo in 2000!!!

    1. You are absolutely correct. Part of the enjoyment of any given activity is finding others who also participate and building friendships. I suspect a person would still appreciate a hobby without making those connections, but it is so much better when you do. Thanks for commenting!


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