US Stamps

Artwork surprise at rural Indiana post office

Mar 31, 2021, 10 AM
During a recent visit to the Bloomfield, Ind., post office, Linn’s and Scott catalog editor-in-chief Jay Bigalke not only received a new first-day-of-issue postmark, but he also discovered an interesting work of art.

Philatelic Foreword by Jay Bigalke

To say I have visited a lot of different post offices is an understatement. And I know of a couple of individuals who have visited a lot more than I have. But with that said, I was surprised to come across a different type of artwork at the post office in Bloomfield, Ind.

On Feb. 22 I traveled to this rural Indiana town near Bloomington to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmarks for the Garden Beauty forever stamps issued that day. There wasn’t a ceremony, but the postmaster and clerk were both very helpful in selling the stamps, supervising my canceling of covers and then mailing the postcards I sent to friends and family.

The post office was dedicated in 1938 according to its cornerstone, and from the exterior architecture I had expected to see a mural inside.

Instead, above the postmaster’s door was a terra-cotta relief sculpture by Lilian Swann Saarinen called Waiting for the Mail. The work includes a man with a horse and a woman milking a cow. According to various sources, the sculpture was installed in 1941, three years after the post office opened.

There are numerous resources for learning about post offices. One is the Postmark Collectors Club, which has photos of thousands of post offices on its website. Another website focuses on New Deal artwork in post offices.

So the next time you are in a town that has a post office like Bloomfield’s, stop in — who knows what sort of artwork treasure you might see.

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