Correspondence was crucial during the Second World War, not only for military or governmental purposes but to maintain social morale. The British Post Office’s intention was that no letter should be delayed more than 48 hours due to enemy action. But from 1940, with the continuous bombardment of London, as well as other parts of the UK, this aim became more challenging. Frederick G. Gurr, a postman close to retirement in the City of London, was concerned that existing salvage squads did not recognize the importance of the mail; he set up the GPO Rescue and Salvage Squad to rescue mail, money and supplies from post offices and letterboxes bombed in London. Above is a hand stamp that distinguished mail delayed, but delivered.
“The 200th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, one of America’s most extraordinary poets and fiction writers, will be immortalized on postage. For more than a century and a half, Poe and his works have been praised by admirers around the world, including English poet laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who dubbed Poe, ‘the literary glory of America.’ British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle called him ‘the supreme original short story writer of all time.’ The stamp portrait of Edgar Allan Poe is by award-winning artist Michael J. Deas of New Orleans.”
Below, the artist’s original, oil on paper, mounted on a wooden panel:
On Tuesday, while leafing through the new Communication Arts, I learned the art director and designer of the stamp was Carl T. Herrman. Which brought to mind a piece of paper I had seen the night before, for the first time in years, my 1982 certificate of membership for the Visual Lunacy Society (VLS), signed by Carl T. Herrman. One and the same. The designer of more than 200 U.S. postage stamps is also the founder of the VLS, whose rubber stamps I collected and whose acceptance of me into its hallowed ranks is a milestone in my life. To come upon these three items separately, in the space of three days, strengthens my faith in the power of coincidence.