Post 002: Postmark

I. Pre

I’m so grateful for the support of the first Post Post Post. Thank you.

This second newsletter is not going to be about the third wave or the other threat that won’t concede, though of course they keep me anxious.

II. Postmark

I tried to write a poem, but honestly the beloved Postal Service has done it for me:

A postmark is an official Postal Service™ imprint applied in black ink on the address side of a stamped mailpiece. A postmark indicates the location and date the Postal Service accepted custody of a mailpiece, and it cancels affixed postage. Since 1979, the Postal Service’s Postal Operations Manual (POM) has provided standards for postmarks applied to single-piece First-Class Mail®. Letters and flats that need to be postmarked come from carrier pick-up, collection boxes, retail counters, or lobby drop boxes. Postmarks are not required for mailings bearing a permit, meter, or precanceled stamp for postage, nor to pieces with an indicia applied by various postage evidencing systems.

The postmarking process uses the following three basic methods of imprinting:

Automated: Advanced facer canceller systems used by processing distribution centers cancel letters quickly. These machines are equipped with biohazard detection systems so letters postmarked by automation benefit from added safety measures.

Mechanized: A variety of older devices apply postmarks to flat-size mailpieces and to philatelic pieces.

Manual: Hand-stamp devices are used by Postal Service employees for local cancellation or philatelic requests.

A “local” postmark shows the full name of the Post Office, a two-letter state abbreviation, ZIP Code™, and date of mailing. Because the Postal Service is sensitive to the importance some customers place upon these postmarks, each Post Office is required to make a local postmark available. Lobby drops should be designated for this purpose with clear signage signifying its use.

  • First, the ™s and ®s in this tickle.

  • I’m obsessed with the postmark as an attempt to halt time and locate place, one marked in black ink and cancelling postage in the process.

  • I had no idea about the three methods for imprinting—from those with “biohazard detection systems” to those reliant on local hands.

  • I love the Postal Service being “sensitive” to postmark requests, or anything else really.

  • According to Wikipedia, philatelic—despite what kind of word you (or, um, I) thought it might be—is:

    the study of postage stamps and postal history. It also refers to the collection, appreciation and research activities on stamps and other philatelic products. Philately involves more than just stamp collecting or the study of postage; it is possible to be a philatelist without owning any stamps

  • In the same Wikipedia rabbithole, I stumbled on the philatelic term killer (and I’m now obsessed—you’re welcome):

    a particularly heavy type of handstamp, or portion of one, consisting of heavy bars, cork impressions or other crude devices used to cancel postage stamps. Such handstamps may also be known as obliterators as the mark applied often obscures almost the whole of the stamp.

    Killers were often used in the early days of stamps as the postal authorities wished to ensure that stamps could not be re-used.

    In the United States this is also the name for a particular circular date stamp with four thick horizontal bars to the right. This handstamp effectively cancels the stamp while leaving the place and date information easily visible. The bars are known as killer bars.

    There is no exact definition of what is, and is not, a killer cancel and the term is often used to apply to any heavy cancellation.

  • Killers! Obliterators! Corks! Cancellations! No exact definition! Here for it.

III. Re-Post

  • Speaking of, Visual AIDS is accepting submissions for their benefit Postcards from the Edge, if they’re postmarked by November 23rd.

  • Recently, I got to spend some time inside the portals that are Sam Gilliam’s new work, and I think it helped.

  • Please make yourself aware of the coup and protests in Peru, and the queer and trans people of color at the center of the struggle. Follow (and donate) to folks on the ground, like my friend xime (IG @huacatayy, Venmo @besodemoza to help with getting safety gear and transportation) and groups like Cabritas Resistiendo, if you can. (See the hashtags #MerinoAsesino #NoAlGolpe and #MerinoNoEsMiPresidente for more, as he mainstream media is failing to fully cover this developing story.)

  • As more and more journalism and activism works to shed light on the many inequities in the arts, mutual aid groups like Aid for Art Now are providing both monetary and non-monetary resources for art workers. Reach out if you need, support if you can.

    Lastly, remember that acts of carelessness during this pandemic are ableist and racist. Keep taking care of eachother, let me know if you need anything.

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