Author Topic: Writing Small  (Read 1424 times)

Offline AnasaziWrites

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Writing Small
« on: October 23, 2019, 11:09:34 AM »
Hi Everyone,

I was delighted recently to find and buy this cover with a wonderful and very small example of early Spencerian writing on it. It was probably written in the late 1850's based on the stamp (a Scott #25, for those collectors among you, which was issued in the 1857-61 series). Postage rates were based on both weight and distance to destination then, and the rate was 3 cents for up to 1/2 ounce and less than 3000 miles for a letter. Pretty expensive at that time, so often envelopes were quite small and the writing would be small as well and generally letters were written on both sides of the paper. This fine writing (x-height about 1/32 inch) was probably done with a quill (although there are nibs that would allow this size writing) based on the date. It also has an interesting closure on the back. It's not wax, as it is very thin and precisely defined. It looks like a stamped metallic foil. Very dainty (and light), and is in the shape of a little padlock.
 I've photographed it on top of a number 10 envelope and next to a pen to give you an idea of it's size. Such fun.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
« Last Edit: October 23, 2019, 11:14:01 AM by AnasaziWrites »

Offline Bianca M

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Re: Writing Small
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2019, 12:00:40 PM »
I love it!!  And the stamp.  So, it looks to be a little over 2" tall?  I wish we could send mini mail like that now!

Offline AnasaziWrites

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Re: Writing Small
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2019, 02:46:59 PM »
I love it!!  And the stamp.  So, it looks to be a little over 2" tall?
@Bianca M
Yes. The envelope measures 2 1/4 X 3 7/8 inches. Just big enough to enclose a calling card.
 
Quote
I wish we could send mini mail like that now!
Me, too. In fact, I'm going to take this envelope to the post office--I have friends there--and see if they would accept an envelope of this size and with an address written this small. If so, would you like to receive one? PM me your address if so. I probably have it from a prior exchange, but let me know anyway.
Anyone else interested?
« Last Edit: October 23, 2019, 02:54:46 PM by AnasaziWrites »

Offline Bianca M

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Re: Writing Small
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2019, 04:20:55 PM »
The minimum size requirement is 5"x3.5", but we could still see if the tiny writing works!  I'll PM you.

Offline waterconfidence

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Re: Writing Small
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2019, 12:14:44 PM »
Your small writing is amazing. I thank you for your amazing script on the Halloween exchange.
I wish the list had been updated before you sent out your card (early). Erica had to make some changes on the list so my name was incorrect but the script was stunning. Thanks again.

Offline AnasaziWrites

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Re: Writing Small
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2019, 09:18:30 PM »
Your small writing is amazing. I thank you for your amazing script on the Halloween exchange.
I wish the list had been updated before you sent out your card (early). Erica had to make some changes on the list so my name was incorrect but the script was stunning. Thanks again.
Glad you received it and liked it. It's usually my second favorite exchange.

Offline AnasaziWrites

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Re: Writing Small
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2019, 09:41:06 AM »
The minimum size requirement is 5"x3.5", but we could still see if the tiny writing works!  I'll PM you.
@Bianca M
Received your address.
In speaking with my friend at the local post office, he confirmed the minimum letter size to be 3.5" X 5", although I see a workaround that. He thought the limiting factor would be the optical character reader they use to sort the mail (and put a bar code on each piece). The USPS has lots of "guidelines" as to how the address should be written, including a recommended minimum size of 10 points (about 1/7" for the letters). He was unsure of what would happen if the reader could not "see" the address for some reason. I suspect that a human would get involved at that point.

The scanned envelope address is in about 2 point size (72 points per inch), and to me and the original postal worker who delivered it, quite legible without magnification. I think what I'll do for our little experiment is to send you several envelopes with decreasing sized addresses, separated by a couple of days so they don't get bunched up somewhere. I'll start with a completely reasonable 1/18 inch x-height and move down from there. Writing at two points (1/36") like the scanned letter is no problem. I can write also at circa one point as well, which I can read easily without magnification, with the right paper and nib--we'll see if the USPS can handle it. If it does, I may attempt something smaller, which would likely require some specialty super-fine paper and a custom ground nib. I'm also not going to put my return address on the outside of the envelope. The easiest solution for the USPS is to return an envelope as "undeliverable" if the writing requires a human eye to read it.
Let the fun begin.


Offline jeanwilson

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Re: Writing Small
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2019, 07:50:12 AM »
If you do a YouTube search for --- USPS mail processing machines  --- you will see several videos of the machines that scan the mail.
If the scanners can't read the address it goes to people who will try to read it.
I have a friend who worked at the PO in the dept where real people spend the whole day deciphering addresses and putting the barcode on the envelopes.
I can ask her for more details - although things might be different now that everything is scanned.

For 55-cents, they will go out of their way to figure out what the address is on a 3.5" x 5" envelope.
Just last week, I was putting up a display of mail art at our main PO - and the customer service representative assured me that there are lots of people within the USPS who love mail art - which would include beautiful tiny writing. She also agreed with me that there are other workers who are annoyed with anything that is non-conforming. But- that is to be expected.

I just Googled - and it said there were 497,000 employees in 2018. It would be hard to get all of them on board with nonconforming mail.
They deliver 149.5 BILLION pieces of mail -- I can see why some people would like all mail to be machineable.

If you send a nonconforming size - you need to put extra postage on. I have sent and received envelopes -used for paintbrushes at the art supply store - that were 2"x10" and they go through. We always put 2-Forevers on them.

Somewhere on my blog, there is a link to an article about a woman who sits in front of a computer and tries to figure out addresses that other people can't figure out. Now that all the mail is scanned, they can send images to her. I can't find it right now, but will keep looking and find out if she is still there. I think she was in Utah.

Offline jeanwilson

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Re: Writing Small
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2019, 09:35:34 AM »
Here is the article about the woman who decyphers addresses for the USPS

https://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/04/us/where-mail-with-illegible-addresses-goes-to-be-read.html

this article is even better as it tells about the training to work in the decipher dept
and the dead letter office where they open mail to see if they can figure out where it should go

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/have-bad-handwriting-us-postal-service-has-your-back-180957629/
« Last Edit: October 26, 2019, 09:53:12 AM by jeanwilson »

Offline AnasaziWrites

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Re: Writing Small
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2019, 02:42:51 PM »
Just last week, I was putting up a display of mail art at our main PO - and the customer service representative assured me that there are lots of people within the USPS who love mail art - which would include beautiful tiny writing. She also agreed with me that there are other workers who are annoyed with anything that is non-conforming. But- that is to be expected.
There are indeed some USPO workers who like mail art. When I mailed martini shakers with Spencerian addresses on them last year for the improbable items exchange, my favorite clerks really enjoyed them.

Did you happen to take a photo of your display? I'd love to see it.

Offline AnasaziWrites

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Re: Writing Small
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2019, 02:51:40 PM »
Here is the article about the woman who decyphers addresses for the USPS

https://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/04/us/where-mail-with-illegible-addresses-goes-to-be-read.html

this article is even better as it tells about the training to work in the decipher dept
and the dead letter office where they open mail to see if they can figure out where it should go

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/have-bad-handwriting-us-postal-service-has-your-back-180957629/
@jeanwilson
Thanks for these very interesting articles and for these tiny addressed envelopes, most encouraging. Even if the OCR can't make out the tiny print, the scan is probably enlargeable, and, if written clearly enough, would be quite legible.
Would you like to receive one? If so, pm me your address.

Thanks so much for the articles

Offline Bianca M

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Re: Writing Small
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2019, 12:44:20 PM »
Michael,

I received the postcard you sent on the 25th with the 1/18th inch x-height.  Quite legible!!  And it actually came on the 28th, I believe, but I wasn't able to post because of the power outages here.  So, not only did it make it, but it did so in very good time. 

I love the postcard, by the way!

Offline AnasaziWrites

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Re: Writing Small
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2019, 03:45:35 PM »
Michael,

I received the postcard you sent on the 25th with the 1/18th inch x-height.  Quite legible!!  And it actually came on the 28th, I believe, but I wasn't able to post because of the power outages here.  So, not only did it make it, but it did so in very good time. 

I love the postcard, by the way!
@Bianca M
Glad you received it. Three days is a record from here to CA. It often seems to take a week. Did the card have a barcode or extra cancellation on it? It should have gone through the reader with no problem.
Let me know if/when you receive the next one, so I can see if the small writing affects delivery time, and if they attach a barcode to it. It's on a much smaller envelope with extra postage written in about 1/32 inch script. Not great calligraphy, but I could easily read it without magnification. It went out to you on Monday, Oct 28.
Hope you remain safe from the fires. Sounds terrible.

Offline Bianca M

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Re: Writing Small
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2019, 07:35:23 PM »
@AnasaziWrites Interestingly, there wasn't a barcode on it.  The only marking was the postmark.  Yes, the speed in which it got here was astonishing!  I'll keep an eye out for the next one.

I am safe, and all my family is safe, thank you.  This is proving to becoming a difficult time of year here.

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Writing Small
« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2019, 08:37:06 AM »
What good fun!  ;D And I LOVE the tiny envelope with tiny writing. When I was a child, I had a little book called the "Teeny tiny woman." I always loved miniatures. I feel an exchange theme coming on...  ;)

One suggestion is to do what Schin does when sending something she isn't sure will make it. She puts the envelope in a clear envelope and includes a typed address strip on it. Or you could use a removable label at the bottom. But I suppose that ruins the fun of the challenge.  :-\
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
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