Last week I attended the stamp show of the American Philatelic Society in Columbus, Ohio. The APS annual show is the largest stamp show in the United States, and it provided me with a great opportunity to expand my collection of postal librariana. Finding items in my collecting specialty is a challenge, but it is made easier by a number of stamp dealers who keep their eye out for postal items related to libraries. The last stamp dealer that I visited at the show assured me that he didn't have any library covers (envelopes), but I've learned never to take no for an answer. In the first box of covers that I looked through I came across a real treasure. Although it was a little pricey, I had to have it for my collection. The cover is what is referred to as an "all over advertising cover" from the Mechanics Institute of San Francisco. The very attractive cover included an order form for a book signed by the Librarian for the Institute. It was dated April 23, 1877. The cover is addressed to F. O. Vaille and H. A. Clark in Cambridge, MA. Although the name of the book being ordered is not on the order form, I know that it was for The Harvard Book which was authored by Vaille and Clark and published in 1875. I know this because I have come across another postal item related to The Harvard Book previously, and wrote a blog post about it. The Mechanics Institute Library in San Francisco is one of those 19th century membership libraries that has survived to the present day (overcoming the San Francisco earthquake of 1906). It has a good history of the library on its website. My philatelic exhibit of postal librariana titled "America's Public Libraries and Their Forerunners" includes a component on mechanics' libraries and this cover will make a great addition to the exhibit.
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