World Stamps

Steven J. Bahnsen

‘Special Delivery’ attractively presents historic aspects of mail service

September 17, 2017 08:00 AM

  • Special Delivery by Marcia Myers presents a historical tour through America’s postal system.
  • The layout of Special Delivery includes an attractive presentation of historic photographs.

By Steven J. Bahnsen

A handsome new coffee-table book on the subject of America’s postal system and more debuted in 2016 with the title Special Delivery.

The 204-page book by Marcia Myers presents dozens of lavishly illustrated stories printed side-by-side on 9-inch-by-12-inch pages.

Each essay has black-and-white or color photographs that tie into the text. Rural mailboxes, letter carriers with dog bites, and love letters during wars are among the topics explored.

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Many stamps are pictured, both on and off cover, along with postal cards and postcards as they relate to the articles.

Special Delivery covers a wide range of history, including homing pigeons used in France, German post horns, and a report from America’s first postmaster general, Benjamin Franklin.

One contemporary subject described is the current upswing in parcel delivery caused by the boom in online shopping.

To get an intimate look at mail delivery, Myers went along with her former letter carrier Mike Strick on his Chico, Calif., route.

Some post office photographs are shown in relation to postal operations. Other images feature post office murals and bas-relief sculptures from the 1930s, found in towns from California to Rhode Island.

Santa Claus mail, federal duck stamps, postal delivery vehicles used over the years, and “Dear John” letters also are discussed in their own articles.

The book also mentions popular songs about the mail, such as Elvis Presley’s Return to Sender, and Please Mr. Postman, a No. 1 hit for the Marvelettes in 1961.

This would not be a complete postal book without coverage of the Pony Express, which is properly addressed. After that is a segment on the Railway Mail Service that carried the bulk of America’s mail for almost 100 years.

Connie Ballou designed and laid out the attractive book. The printing is distinct and clear.

Some readers might take issue with the book’s use of a period after President Harry Truman’s manufactured middle initial, “S,” since he did not have an actual middle name. Journalism style guides, however, often say the period should be included.

Special Delivery has the right blend of photos and text, making the colorful book easy to read and enjoy.

It can be ordered online for $59.95 plus $7.95 priority mail shipping. The shipping fee will be waived if you mention being a Linn’s reader.