I just finished reading PUT A STAMP ON IT by Herman Herst.   The story entitled OUR LEADING HOAXER (#73) brought a couple of things to mind.

In the piece Herman Herst speculated about the future of the mails (and stamps) and relates how technology had changed things.   He relates how the telegraph, the telex, the telphone and radio chnaged communucations.   He speculates what would happen if and when stamps are mo longer issued.

My sister, Rachel, moved to Israel in 1955, when I was but six years old.   She wrote a letter to the folks each week.  She used the aerogrammes (air letter sheets).   Way back then, an international phone call was very expensive.  Besides, where she lived at the time, phones were few and far between.

As the years passed it became easier and less expensive to make international phone calls.   Rachel also moved to an area where there eventually were phones in each home.    As such, my parents called her weekly.   The aerogrammes stopped coming. 


My mother saved these aerogrammes from Rachel in a shoe box.  I started collecting stamps at age ten.  A couple of years later, I started my Israel collection of used stamps.

I had always read the letters Rachel wrote.  I had no real idea what the the aerogammes were.  One time, I noticed some extra stamps on what I then considered to be the envelope.   Sometime thereafter, I found the treasure trove in my mother’s closet:  the shoe full of Rachel's letters.  Need I tell you what I did?  I pulled many of the stamps off.  My mother got angry at me for doing that!


Many years later, I went to a stamp show and someone showed me the postal stationery of Israel.  I said, "WOW!  I have many of these at home -- my sister's letters!"  I got home, checked my parents' closet, and found the box containing Rachel's letters.  I then discovered what I had done many years before.  I was angry at my mother for letting me ruin the air letter sheets!]

I do not know when Herman Herst wrote this story.  Since then many new ways of communication have come into being.  These include e-mail, texting, FACEBOOK, LINKED-IN, TWITTER and SKYPE.

As you may know I retired in January 2016 after a 40 year carrer programming MAINFRAME COMPUTERS – the big room sized multi-million dollar machines.  These PC’s still boggle my mind.   I have a GEEK SQUAD service contract.

I do use e-mail.  I text only  when absolutely necessary.  I recenlty used SKYPE for the first time at a client’s house.  I do not use any social media.  Hey, I still have 78 RPM records – I collect classsical music on 78 RPMs.  There is something to be said for the scratchy sound of a 78.

Postal Historians like to get the actual letter.  There may be significant philatelic or historical information in the letter.   Historians use these letters as primary source material.   A good part of David McCullough book John Adams is based on letters between John and Abigale.   


Such letters were readily available in the STAMPLESS FOLDED LETTERS.   They became less available with the advent of envelopes.  With modern methods of communication, not only are stamps lost but these letters as well.   E-MAILS (as well as TWEETS, etc.) may not be permanently saved.  This is a loss to the historian.

So what are my predictions of the future?   Stamps will remain.  They are a good source of revenue for the postal services.    Letters will still be written and packages mailed.  But package delivery will become the major focus of the postal services.