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Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

Posts tagged "museum"

The Little Mail Carriers continue their adventures around the world, and this time they’ve received an invitation they could not refuse… to explore Toronto’s First Post Office! They jumped at the opportunity to discover this historical institution, which is both a museum and a post office and is also regularly visited by the local postcrossers. Kat Akerfeldt is a curator at the museum and kindly offered to show the little ones around.

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

Hi everyone! We’ve just arrived here at Toronto’s First Post Office, but it seems like we came at a very busy time of year! To make us feel right at home, Kat put us to work in the Post Office, sorting mail and making sure that everything went into the correct box.

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

Toronto’s First Post Office is a museum, and looks just as it did in 1833. That was when the city’s first Postmaster, James Scott Howard, built the town’s first brick Post Office. At that time, everyone in Toronto collected their mail from this Post Office – there was no home delivery then. Most letters would be sorted alphabetically until the recipients called for them. Only a few people had their own P.O. box, with a window with a number painted on the glass. These were for Toronto’s early government, business, and religious leaders, for they received the most mail.

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

Today, Toronto’s First Post Office still runs a full-service Post Office, and offers P.O. boxes to rent to members of the Town of York Historical Society. It’s the only postal museum in Canada, and the only Post Office in Toronto to offer a pictorial cancellation mark, so they get a lot of visitors who want to send interesting happy mail — including lots of postcrossers as well! The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

The museum gift shop sells a very interesting selection of vintage stamps. While perusing them, we noticed this small collection of stamps that commemorate Canada’s Confederation. In 1867, representatives from provinces in British North America agreed, after many meetings and conferences, to become a united country, the Dominion of Canada. In 2017, Canada is celebrating 150 years since Confederation! The history was fascinating, so we got into the library to investigate further…

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

… but soon emerged again to find out what all the noisy excitement was about. Turns out, a school group had arrived and wanted to learn to write letters as they did in the 1830s in Toronto. We learned that writing with goose quill pens isn’t always easy, and that blobs will happen! The Postmistress reminded the class to keep a light hand, keep the paper flat on the table, and keep the pen moving!

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post OfficeThe Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

When the letters were dried with pounce (a sand, sprinkled onto the ink, which helps to dry it quickly), the students folded their letters and sealed them with red sealing wax. In the 1830s, you had to pay postage on every piece of paper, so you didn’t waste paper or postage on an envelope! The letter becomes its own cover. Finally, the letters were stamped with a historic cancellation. In the 1830s, Postmaster Howard didn’t like the quality of black ink, so his was the only post office in the province of Upper Canada allowed to use red ink.

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

The date on the cancellation mark is historic in itself! It says “March 6”, which is Toronto’s birthday! March 6, 1834, was the date that Toronto became the first city in Upper Canada. Before 1834, Toronto was known as the Town of York. And before 1793, as early European settlers came to the area, this place on the shores of Lake Ontario was known as Toronto. Toronto is from the native Mohawk language, and was sometimes spelled Taranteau or Tkaronto. In 1793, Upper Canada’s first Lieutenant Governor, John Graves Simcoe, moved the capitol away from the American border to Toronto, renamed the settlement after the Duke of York, and started a lot of development, including creating a map of his new Town – two blocks up and five blocks across. When Simcoe first came to Toronto/York, there were 241 people living here. By 1834, when it became a city, there were 9252 people living here. It had grown very quickly, but it didn’t stop there… Today, Toronto is nearly 3 million people!

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

Later in our visit, we heard some very exciting news: every year, the Town of York Historical Society and Toronto’s First Post Office celebrate becoming a city with a gala celebration! This year marked the city’s 183rd birthday, and the celebration also honoured Canada’s sesquicentennial. A party was held at St. Lawrence Hall, which was built in 1851 as Toronto’s first big concert venue. During its early history, the Hall hosted debates on Canadian Confederation, was a terminus for the Underground Railroad, and the venue for three sold-out performances by Swedish superstar Jenny Lind. In 1967, the Hall was restored, and is now a National Historic Site.

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

On March 6, 2017, the evening included lively music written in 1867 and 1967 (the number 1 song in Canada in 1967 was “The Letter”, which we thought was very appropriate!), rousing speeches on Toronto’s history, and a very popular auction of goods and services from local businesses! Toronto’s First Post Office and St. Lawrence Hall are very close to the St. Lawrence Market, which is full of amazing food artisans, who very kindly supplied all kinds of good things to eat. We especially enjoyed the very Canadian delicacy – and very sticky – butter tarts!

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

What an evening! After all the excitement, we were ready for some relaxation back at the Post Office. We settled in the Reading Room, in front of the fireplace, with our best pens and rubber stamps, to write some letters and postcards to our favourite people. After all, how else would we enjoy a quiet moment?

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

Thank you so much Kat and everyone at Toronto’s First Post Office, for taking such good care of the little ones! 😊  Where will they go next?

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Remember back in July, when the Singapore Philatelic Museum asked everyone’s collaboration with Harry Potter postcards for their newest thematic exhibition? Mishelle Lim from the museum recently wrote back to let us know the responses to this call for postcards were stunning, and that they’ve received almost 100 beautiful postcards — including hand-made ones and some bearing Harry Potter stamps. Woohoo! Ten points to Gryffindor Postcrossing!

The museum is now busy replying to the submissions, but have sent back some photos of the exhibition which opened last month. Have a look:

Collecting Magic: From Stamps to WandsCollecting Magic: From Stamps to WandsCollecting Magic: From Stamps to Wands

Merlin’s beard… that looks amazing! We’re always in awe of SPM’s exhibitions — you can tell they work hard on all the details to really take the experience to the next level.

If you’re in the area or planning to visit Singapore in the next few months, “Collecting Magic: From Stamps to Wands” will be open until June 2017.

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Good news, everyone! We’re super excited about this upcoming exhibition curated by the Singapore Philatelic Museum, which features one of our favourite series ever… HARRY POTTER!!

Since the first book came out in 1997, J.K. Rowling's young wizard and his friends have been hugely popular all around the world, influencing a generation of readers. Postal operators have also joined in celebrating the series, which are naturally featured in plenty of stamps as well as postcards and fan art… which is where YOU come in. The SPM is looking for your collections and postcards, to feature on their next exhibition! 😀

Harry Potter exhibition

If you’re a collector of Harry Potter postcards or postal stationery and would like to showcase your collection in the exhibition, please contact Mishelle (the curator) at SPM179807@gmail.com by August 10th.

But you don’t need to be a collector to participate! As is tradition, the museum is also calling all postcrossers to send in their themed postcards to them. So grab a Harry Potter card and share something with the visitors! For instance, what do you like about the series? Who’s your favourite character, or what’s your favourite scene or quote? Do tell! Here’s the address:

The exhibition is already on display, so this activity is closed.

If your card arrives before August 21st and includes your address, you’ll receive a postcard back! :) Sadly, the reply won’t be a Harry Potter card, due to licensing fees, but the postcards of the museum never disappoint.

The Harry Potter exhibition at the Singapore Philatelic Museum is scheduled to open in November, and stay on until July 2017. Now if only we had a magic spell to teleport us there…

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With love from Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang is the name of the most recent exhibition at the Singapore Philatelic Museum. The characters of the comic strip are often portrayed writing letters, so with the new Peanuts movie launch, it seems like a fitting and fun exhibition! They have Snoopy-themed stamps, comic strips and other collectibles on display from all over the world, but they’re still missing one thing… your postcards! :)

Snoopy Exhibition

Keeping on with the tradition, the museum invites all postcrossers to send in their Peanuts’ themed postcards to:

The exhibition is already on display, so this activity is closed.

Include your favourite quote from a Peanuts character or your thoughts on the comic strip, if you’d like! :)

The exhibition closes at the end of April, and the museum promises to send an exclusive museum Peanuts postcard to anyone who includes their address on the postcard.

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The last time we heard from the Little Mail Carriers, they were knee-high in snow in Siberia, but that was a long time ago… We were wondering what they were up to, when we received this exciting report from Chicago! Turns out, they’ve just spent some time with Heather at the fantastic Curt Teich Postcard Archives!

We’ve written about their Greetings from postcards before, so we were curious to see what Little Paulo & Ana would discover “behind the scenes”…

Archives entrance Teich2013

Hi everyone!

In April we traveled to Wauconda, Illinois, in the far northern suburbs of Chicago. There we visited the Lake County Discovery Museum’s Curt Teich Postcard Archives—the world’s largest public collection of postcards! Our first stop was the mailbox located at the end of the drive. It was quite roomy and gave us a chance to stretch after the trip.

Mail Box 2 Teich2013

First we saw the reading room and library, which is open to the public. We decided to do a little research. Postcards are sleeved before researchers handle them, and we were only given a few at a time to look at. Pencils only for note taking!

Research Teich2013

Next we were given a behind-the-scenes tour. The core of the archives is from Chicago printer Curt Teich & Co (1898–1978). The Teich Company specialized in printing postcards, and saved copies of everything they printed. During the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, it was the world’s largest volume producer of postcards. The archives literally holds millions of postcards from the Teich Company and other publishers.

Postcard cabinets Teich2013Postcard box Teich2013

The postcards are stored in archival boxes in cabinets. There are a lot of cabinets to hold all of the postcards. The archives also has production files that were used to create the postcards. Some contain original photos, notes, artwork and samples of wallpaper, carpet, or products. This client sent a carpet sample to get the colors and pattern just right.

Production File Teich203

When we were there, postcards from the Detroit Publishing Company were just being entered into the computer database.

Catalogging Teich2013Digitizing Teich2013

Many of the postcards are digitized on a flatbed scanner at the archives and made available online at www.idaillinois.org. While visiting the digitizer, we made some new friends!

New Friends Teich2013

Later, we headed over to the museum building to tour the exhibits. We saw what the original off-set press looked like (that’s Curt Teich Sr., company founder, on the right).

Museum exhibit Teich2013

We also discovered a “Top Secret” map! Did you know that during the Second World War, the Teich Company had a contract with the United States Army Map Service for printing maps?

TopSecret Map Teich2013Map revealed Teich2013

There are lots of different types of postcards on exhibit.

Postcard Exhibit 1 Teich2013Postcard Exhibit 2 Teich 2013

It was great to meet the staff and see how the postcards are cared for at a postcard archive. They love postcards!

Archives Staff Teich2013

P.S. May 5–11, 2013 is National Postcard Week in the United States!

National Postcard Week Teich2013

What a fantastic trip – sounds like postcard heaven to us! Thank you for showing them around, Heather! :)

Now they’re off to their next destination… the adventure continues!

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