In 1902, Edward P. Hennessy, a St. Louis letter carrier and the President of the National Philatelic Association of Letter Carriers, published a series of ten postcards entitled “The Ten Ages of a Letter in the World’s Fair City,” with photography by the Sanders Co. of St. Louis. By 1903, Hennessy had sold more than 4,000 sets, and anticipated selling many more to fair-goers attending the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, informally known as the St. Louis World’s Fair, in 1904. I’d read about the set, but never seen it until today. It was worth the wait.
During the early days of radio broadcasting, the ability for a radio set to receive distant signals was a source of pride for many listeners, who mailed “reception reports” to broadcasters in hopes of getting a letter in return to verify they’d heard the distant station. To save time, stations took to sending postcards that acknowledged reception. Collecting these QSL cards – named for the 3-letter code that confirmed receipt of a transmission – became popular.
In the mid-1920s, the EKKO stamp company – its name a play on “echo” – provided each station with a postage-like stamp with its call letters; the station could then send their stamp with or as a verification. Avid listeners could hear many stations around the country, and began collecting the stamps; EKKO sold a stamp album to collectors to encourage the hobby. And Radio News, in February of 1925, made EKKO stamps its cover subject.
Art by John Philip Falter, 1945
Magazine ad for Shell Oil, circa 1949, the point of which, I am guessing, is that sending a letter is cheaper than using fuels and lubricants to send a person.
Mural in the Nappanee, Indiana, post office, painted in 1938 by Grant Wright Christian.
Art by Franklin Booth celebrating U.S. Air Mail and pilot Wesley L. Smith