Friday, November 27, 2009

Snappy Tune! PFF #15

Well, no crocs for me, but since Marie likes snappy things, I thought an old cover (1989) with Duke Ellington for the stamps would be appropriate. Besides, there's a story to go with this one.

I began following the Postmark Pursuit column in Linn's Stamp News shortly after I discovered there was a market for my smallish art. I found this Event Cancel for a Jazz Festival in Gresham, Oregon, called the Mt. Hood Festival of Jazz. I purchased the stamps which were long since off sale from a Stamp Store in Seattle, used the image of the cancel as a starting point, and prepared four covers with Gold Leaf and piano keys in front of an outline of Mt. Hood, just like in the cancel. Being a believer in the Postal Service being able to process my art on envelopes, I sent them off to get canceled.

I waited. Matter of fact, I waited three weeks after the covers should have been returned to me before becoming concerned. I called the postmaster in Gresham. He was sure that they'd processed all of the covers that they had requesting the cancel, but he said he'd check. I called three days later, and he said he was positive they'd processed them all, but that he would once again check with the employee who had processed the requests.

He finally returned my call to inform me that he'd checked with the employee, and indeed, all of the covers had been processed. I was furious. They had all been labeled with removable labels, and I'd seen none of them return. Until two days later, when the first one showed up. The next day, the other three showed up. All of them canceled with a MACHINE cancel from the Portland Post Office, but different machines.

I called the Gresham Post Office, and let the postmaster know they'd been returned with machine cancels. He was apologetic, but told me that the postal employee would be losing his job, and suspected that when he had been confronted with the case of the missing covers, he panicked and made the drive to Portland to drop them in drop boxes.

So - I ended up with four covers that pretty much look just like this one. There's some wear on the gold leaf in several pieces, but I hold on to them as a reminder not to trust my art to the vagaries of the mail any more.


  1. Oh, my goodness! Wow--that is awful. I have lived in Oregon all my life...In fact, I was born in Portland. I'm SO sorry.

    Your work is exquisite.

  2. Wow, I think with stories like this one you should be keeping a log/diary so you can write a book and include the pictures of the covers that go a long with each story - sure glad you got them back this time. I must say, if I had the chance to "steal" one of those, I would be tempted, beautiful.

  3. Postal service is always a leap of faith isn't it, especially when you're sending something precious. Sometimes they come through in an amazing way and other times...welll

  4. You probably could make an interesting book about your covers and the stories behind them.

  5. Happy (or sad)PFF. So the postal employee had held on to them eh?

  6. Hello! To answer your question, yes, Tiffany Rose is a pen and Ink drawing.

    I use both Micron and Staedtler indelible ink pens. I combine various sizes pens to create depth.

    Thank you for asking. I'm really a novice in art--I'm self-taught -- I've never had any training whatsoever. Someday I shall. At least that is my dream!

  7. Been there done that. I have had my envelopes get lost in the mail but showed up later and it seems the insiders said some employees would put the envelopes up where they sorted mail, just to look at for a while.

    I used to get Playboy when I was young and they were always dog-earred by the time the post office employees finished looking at them and delivered what was left to my mail box.

    One employee told me they took some magazines home to look at over night and then brought them back the next day to process and mail on or to put in the person's mail box.

  8. jjb and Postcardy, I've been telling Dave for quite some time he MUST keep written stories for all his art, because there is a BOOK in the making there. Like all stories, it takes the tragic and triumphant to make it real life.
    This story reminds me of one our Dad told. Every Christmas, using colored India Ink and Speedball pens with nibs, he illustrated each Christmas card envelope our parents sent (and there were a LOT) with pictures suited to the recipients in some way. I remember a distant cousin, a TWA pilot, whose envelope had a small airplane with TWA insignia flying towards the star of Bethlehem over the manger.
    Once he was finished, he was quite anxious for friends and relatives to receive them. But people in town would say they hadn't gotten their's after several days passed.
    Dad discovered from the postmaster that they didn't leave the postoffice in Shelby, MT until all the employees (all 3 or 4 of them) had had a chance to see them. His irritation turned to something a bit more like pride.

  9. I'm sorry too. I've also had my mishaps with the postal service, but nothing quite like that.

    This is a great piece of art. I've never attended the jazz festival, not even while in college and a part of the music program.

  10. So, did the postmaster offer to do new cancels for you, or did you send the machine cancels back for the appropriate hand cancel? I can't tell from the photo, but it looks like both cancels are present.

    Interesting family story your sister relates ...... -:)

  11. Such a shame that all your hard - and excellent - work was spoilt by machine cancels. We are so much at the mercy of the postal services doing what they should do.

  12. wow! this is a fascinating story...and a wonderful blog! the weirdest thing i've had happen here in rome, italy is having EMPTY envelopes delivered. the postman delivers the post fine but somewhere along the line the letter has been cut open and the contents have been stolen!