Letterpress Emancipation Proclamation Poster Evokes Civil War-era Broadsides

PosterCommemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation with this limited-edition letterpress poster.

This unique collectible was created using antique wood type and ornamentation set by hand at Hatch Show Print in Nashville, Tennessee, one of the oldest working letterpress shops in the U.S. (It opened about 15 years after the end of the Civil War.)  “We’re proud to be part of such a momentous occasion in such a modern context,” said shop manager Jim Sherraden.

The 16 x 23-inch poster, which is numbered and has been signed by designer Gail Anderson, is perfect for framing and will make a truly distinctive addition to your collection. Unsigned copies of the poster are also available.

Quoth the Raven: Feeling the Spirit of Halloween

The Halloween season brings with it a noticeable chill in the air, moody days, longer nights, and the thrilling promise of some fun fright or another. At this time of year, we can’t help but think of Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849), one of America’s most masterful storytellers. Out of his vivid imagination leapt such terrifying tales as “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.” His “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” featuring the brilliant investigator C. Auguste Dupin, may have been the first detective story ever written.

And then, of course, there is “The Raven” (1845):

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door—
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”

So begins this remarkable poetic masterpiece. The narrator, mourning the death of the beautiful woman he loved, is seized with “fantastic terrors” at each knock. Finally, several stanzas later, he opens the door:

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the work, “Lenore!”—
Merely this and nothing more.

Another sound leads him to open the window and in steps a raven:

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

Is the raven “bird or fiend”? Will the narrator ever reunite with his “lost Lenore”? You’ll have to read the rest of the poem to find out . . .

Edgar Allan Poe was honored with a stamp in 2009. Panes of the stamp have sold out, but a block of four Poe stamps is included with the limited edition booklet, The Raven. Happy Halloween!

Painting Our Pastime: An Interview With Artist Graig Kreindler

Play Ball! A Celebration of Baseball’s Greatest Momentsa 40-page softbound book that showcases stamps honoring our national pastime—is filled with the beautiful paintings of artist Graig Kreindler. Here is his story.

As a boy, Graig Kreindler loved to look at the illustrated portraits of players on his father’s old baseball cards. Poring over the collection, made up of gems from the 1950s, eventually led to a minor epiphany. “You could kind of see,” Kreindler, who grew up in Rockland County, New York, said, “how art and baseball could come together.”

Not that the 32-year-old painter needed a push toward the sport. He was, after all, named after New York Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles. A lifelong baseball fan, Kreindler has spent his adult years depicting the athletes he grew up adoring. His stunning paintings have been displayed nationwide, in museums and books.

In truth, Kreindler didn’t always like to paint. “I was scared of color,” he said. Plus, he added, “I really only enjoyed painting if I was painting something that I had interest in.” Then a college assignment—he attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan—fulfilled that requirement. The task was to depict a relationship. “For whatever reason I thought about the relationship between a pitcher and a batter,” he said. He ended up entering the finished product, a vertical painting of Mickey Mantle at bat, in a New York Society of Illustrators competition. At that point, he knew he’d hit on something.

“Anything other than baseball just didn’t feel right,” he said.

Kreindler graduated from college in 2002 and began his professional career. His paintings aren’t merely vague interpretations of baseball scenes. Hours of research precedes each one. “It usually starts with an image,” Kreindler said. “Then I go from there.” Take, for example, the Jackie Robinson painting featured in Play Ball! A Celebration of Baseball’s Greatest Moments. It’s based on a photograph that Kreindler found. The lighting in the picture, he said, was spectacular. “Right away,” he said of the image, of Robinson sliding into home, “I thought this could be a great painting.”

From there, Kreindler gets to work. First, he’ll scour a variety of news sources to help determine when the photo was taken, ideally down to the exact date, game, and even the inning. (Baseball box scores are widely available and contain a wealth of information.) The HBO documentary series When It Was a Game, which made use of color home-movie footage, has been another great resource. Kreindler is a stickler for detail. No element—including uniforms, ballpark advertisements, the weather—is ignored.

“If you show somebody an image, if you show him a photo or a painting of Mickey Mantle, if I’ve done it right, it will transport him to being a kid,” Kreindler said. “I think in general, the best art is able to elicit some sort of emotional response. Baseball just registers with so many people in that way.”

To see more of Kreindler’s work, visit graigkreindler.com.

Wilma Rudolph Contest Winners Race to the Finish Line

Congratulations to the winners of last week’s Wilma Rudolph contest! The winners have been notified by email. Here are the two questions they all answered correctly:

1. When did Rudolph receive her first Olympic medal, and for which event?

2. During the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Rudolph became the first woman to win three of which kind of medal, and for which events did she receive them?

Rudolph won her first Olympic medal (a bronze medal) in Melbourne during the 1956 Summer Games in the 4 x 100m relay.

During the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Rudolph became the first woman to win three gold medals. She won them for the 100m dash, 200m dash, and 4 x 100m relay.

If you didn’t win this time around, don’t worry—we have all kinds of fun things planned for you. Keep checking back here for more contests, giveaways, and chances to flex your stamp muscles!

Though the Olympic Games are officially over (how about that closing ceremony?!), we’re keeping the spirit alive over on Pinterest. Check out our board of Olympics stamps and tell us about some of your favorites.

Racing Through the Olympics With Another Contest

The 2012 Olympic Games in London may be nearly over, but that doesn’t mean our love for all the sports is ending, too. The athletics competitions were especially nail-biting, and got us thinking about a truly amazing woman who appeared on a U.S. postage stamp in 2004.

Wilma Rudolph (1940–1994) overcame a childhood plagued by serious illness to become one of the nation’s greatest athletes. Her left leg was crippled by polio at an early age, but she was determined to walk without a brace. “I think I started acquiring a competitive spirit right then and there,” she wrote in her 1977 autobiography, “a spirit that would make me successful in sports later on.” By the time she was 12 the brace had been sent back to the hospital, and soon she was the star of her high school track and basketball teams. Within four years she had developed into a world-class sprinter.

To test your Olympic knowledge, we have a Wilma Rudolph-themed contest for you! Four lucky winners will receive an official USPS ceremony program from the Wilma Rudolph First Day of Issue ceremony held on July 14, 2004. You must answer both questions correctly:

1. When did Rudolph receive her first Olympic medal, and for which event?

2. During the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Rudolph became the first woman to win three of which kind of medal, and for which events did she receive them?

Submit your answers to uspsstamps [at] gmail [dot] com, and remember spelling counts! The winners will be selected at random and notified by email. Deadline for entries is 5 p.m. EDT tomorrow, Saturday, August 11. Good luck!