The Pony Rides Again (and Again)

Although it ran only briefly 150 years ago, the Pony Express still defines our understanding of the Old West

Shortly before last Christmas, a prominent New York auction house put up for bid a collection of 63 postmarked envelopes and stamps that the daring riders of the Pony Express had carried 150 years ago. Experts estimated that the rare collection, owned by Thurston Twigg-Smith, an 88-year-old philanthropist and former publisher of the Honolulu Advertiser, might net $2.5 million. It drew $4 million.Read more »

Poe Turns 200

1809~2009

“I endeavored to shriek—and my lips and my parched tongue moved convulsively together in the attempt—but no voice issued from the cavernous lungs which, oppressed as if by the weight of some incumbent mountain, gasped and palpitated, with the heart, at every elaborate and struggling inspiration,” wrote Edgar Allan Poe in his chilling description of a man who has found himself buried alive in the 1844 short story “The Premature Burial.” The maestro of terror and the macabre, who penned such classics as “The Raven” and “The Pit and the Pendulum,” was born 2Read more »

Post Haste

The urge to move documents as fast as possible has always been a national pre-occupation, because it has always been a necessity. Fax and Federal Express are just the latest among many innovations for getting the message across.

Reaching out and touching someone hasn’t always been easy—especially if it was necessary to hand that person something in the process. Yet there have always been Americans who absolutely and positively had to have it the next day, week, month, at any cost, and this in turn has always drawn others with the dollars and determination to make it happen.Read more »

A Postage Stamp History Of The U.S. In The Twentieth Century

Here is the federal government’s own picture history of our times—and it tells us more than you might think

FEW ARE AWARE of a major publishing project that has been sponsored by the federal government and some of our leading citizens over the past eight decades. It is a lavishly illustrated history of the United States in our times and it comes in parts—on postage stamps, to be precise. The story it tells may say as much about how we see ourselves as about what we’ve done since 1900. Read more »

Barnstorming The U.S. Mail

“GENERAL,” F.D.R. DEMANDED, “WHEN ARE THESE AIR MAIL KILLINGS GOING TO STOP?”

Flurries of wet snow camouflaged the runway of Cleveland airport in the early winter darkness. of Monday, February 19, 1934. Attended by a small group of chilled spectators and outlined by explosions of light from news cameras, a bulky figure in fleecelined flying suit, leather helmet, heavy boots, and furry gloves clambered into the open cockpit of a Boeing P -12 pursuit biplane. Lieutenant Charles R. Springer pulled down his goggles, fastened his seal belt, waved, and prepared to carry out his orders.Read more »

A Zip Through History

The U.S. Post Office, 1775-1974

Clara Boule of Lewiston, Montana, recently heard from her mother. This is less than startling, since her mother, Mrs. Elmer Lazure, lives at Belt, only eighty miles from Lewiston. But—the letter was postmarked November 17, 1969 Read more »