Letters to Myself

Slide-Talk by Alan Blackman, Calligrapher
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In 1968, well-known San Francisco lettering artist and calligrapher Alan A. Blackman began sending hand-written envelopes as a surprise to his young son. 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 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 almost 40 years, comprising some 200 envelopes, and bearing cancellations from the USA, Canada, Great Britain, and other countries overseas.

In 2015, Alan Blackman exhibited his collection at the San Francisco Public Library, where his beautiful hand-written envelopes were acclaimed for their clever design and originality. Now, Alan returns for a slide lecture showing once again his collection of First Day Covers.

Presented by the Marjorie G. and Carl W. Stern Book Arts & Special Collections Center in association with The Friends of Calligraphy. For more information contact bookarts@sfpl.org / (415) 557-4560.

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