*Letters to Myself

The Calligraphic First Day Covers of Alan A. Blackman
Event detail

In 1968 well-known San Francisco lettering artist & calligrapher Alan A. Blackman began sending hand-written envelopes as a surprise to his young son Stephen, across the bay in Berkeley. Blackman had been an avid stamp collector in childhood and remembered the excitement that a new postage stamp could create, and the pleasure of receiving his own personal mail. At the same time he addressed an envelope to his son he addressed a similar one to himself.

As a part-time postal employee Blackman knew when and where to send for new U.S. postage stamps. Collectors call the newly issued stamps on envelopes "first day covers." Each new stamp bears the cancellation: FIRST DAY OF ISSUE and records the date and city of first sale. Alan's envelopes gradually became individually distinctive, the design of the address mirroring the design of the stamps. The envelopes have become a collection spanning 40 years comprising some 200 envelopes, and bearing cancellations from the USA, Canada, Great Britain, and other countries overseas.

It is Alan Blackman's personal collection which is on display here. This exhibition is presented by the Marjorie G. and Carl W. Stern Book Arts & Special Collections Center. 

*Funded by Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

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