Monday, April 16, 2012

Exhibit About Melvil Dewey's Postal Card

In 1898 the United States Post Office Department (now the United States Postal Service) issued a pre-stamped postal card that was the exact size of a catalog card. Melvil Dewey claimed that the issue of the postal card was the result of his lobbying of the Post Office Department for a card of that size. I have written a previous blog post about Dewey's postal card. I've been collecting examples of these postal cards used by libraries for over 15 years. Last year I put together a one frame, 16 page exhibit of these postal cards for the big stamp show in Chicago, and last month the exhibit was displayed at the St. Louis stamp show. In both cases the exhibit received a silver medal which was less than I hoped for, but I received some good feedback on improving the exhibit. Yesterday at the stamp show of the Wisconsin Federation of Stamp Clubs in Madison, the exhibit received a first place award (more than one first place awards are given). I will also be displaying the exhibit at the Denver stamp show next month. The exhibit varies considerably from traditional postal stationery exhibits in that it concentrates on library uses of a postal card instead of the postal uses. Postal cards were important tools in conducting day to day library business. The largest use for the Dewey cards in my collection was for the acknowledgment of gifts. Of course there are examples of overdue book notices and reserve book notices. Libraries also used the cards for requests to magazine publishers for missing issues of periodicals, and for requesting copies of publications. There are a host of miscellaneous uses ranging from meeting notices to the collection of library statistics. I have a previous post about the use of the card to announce a meeting of the New York Library Club, and a post about a card to collect data for the California State Library.

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