You and I are alot alike: on damp, drizzle-y days we like to stay indoors, preferably with a mug of hot chocolate, a soft furry object (cat or blanket, it’s your choice), and a good book. Because we are constantly busy with the workaday world, taking a day to get lost in a good book can be a bite-sized vacation as well as its own best reward.
Because we’re friends and because I’m partial to sharing, I thought I’d let you know about two recent bookish treasures that I came across – postal related publications that will (I’m certain) inspire and delight you.
“The Englishman Who Posted Himself” came out in November 2010 and I’ve been meaning to write about it for awhile now. Author John Tingey profiles the life and mailings of W. Reginald Bray (known throughout the UK as “The Autograph King”), an early pusher-of-postal-limits. Among the oddities that Bray sent to himself and others: a bowler hat, rabbit skull, an Irish Terrier – you name it, Bray probably tried it.
Where did all of this get-up-and-go come from? Well, Bray decided to read through the whole of the British Post Office Guide (1898 edition) and after taking notes about what could and could not be sent through the mail, he decided to fill in the gaps, so to speak. One of his most famous stunts consisted of mailing –stop me if this sounds familiar — himself.
This book is a great read, fast and entertaining with lots of wonderful examples of Bray’s early postal hi-jinks. It would be the perfect gift to give a young’un, if you were interested in introducing them to the world of mail art. I love the fact that this mainstream publication (see the New Yorker review) pays tribute to an unusual aspect of the post office — when was the last time you read a book that profiled your favorite eccentric mail artist? (I’m still waiting for that offer…)
Another recent treat was put into my hands at the Codex Book Fair, by Antic Ham of Red Fox Press. Called “The Joy of Stamping”, this small size book is one part zine, one part artist book. Each copy is lovingly sewn together by hand; the printing is beautiful. Take a look at the photos, and you’ll understand why I fell in love with this gem immediately.
All those bits-n-pieces of postal deliciousness!
Stamps and register receipts all laid out on vintage ledger paper in a visual feast which I am powerless to resist!
Red Fox Press are located in Ireland, and they put together some amazing artists books which feature a variety of contemporary mail artists and visual poets. Their “C’est Mon Dada” series is wonderfully affordable, and a great way to get into collecting artists books. You can catch a glimpse of the series on their table at the NYC Art Book Fair:
So there you have it; a couple of new-found book friends! What sorts of mail art books/zines do you have on your shelves? And what kinds of postal flavored eye candy resides on your Amazon wish/dream list? I’ll start first: “John Evans: Collages” by John Evans. It looks gorgeous, and one of these days, it will sit proudly on my bookshelf!
In all things postal,
I remain —
A PS to you, dear RLD readers – guess what?! With the next blog post, I’ll finally finish up the “12 days of mail art” cycle, and you know what that means, right? Right?!?!
A giveaway, of course!
I won’t tell you much, but I will let you know these three things: the giveaway will be postal themed, a whole lot of fun, and short-n-sweet.
If I were you, I’d keep a watchful eye out this weekend…