Monday, September 12, 2011

100 Years of New Yorker Covers Illustrates How America's Connection with the Postal Service Has Changed

The New Yorker in its current issue has an article that shows covers with postal themes over the past 84 years.   The covers show the gradual shift of the perception of mail and the Postal Service.

Looking at the covers, the illustrators clearly show the changes and present a fairly scary picture of the future of the Postal Service.

  •  Covers from the 1920's through the 1970's show the Postal Service as the critical communications link between households and other households. 
  • A cover from 1973 illustrated mail as a critical part of political campaign communications with voters.   Today's campaign mailings are a significant step beyond volunteers hand-addressing and stamping envelopes as shown in that cover.
  • In 1976, a cover by Edward Sorel, illustrated how the combination of lower Postage rates and computerized lists created the catalog and direct mail industry that generated a deluge of catalog deliveries that became as much a sign of Autumn as falling leaves.
  • In 2004, a cover illustrated the growth of growth of computers and e-mail.   This cover coincided with the early years of the decline in First Class mail.

  • Finally, the current cover, suggests a rather ominous future for the Postal Service.   The stone cutters chisel  new words on the New York Post Office that continually modify the unofficial slogan of the Postal Service as service diminishes.  Even more ominous are the tourists on the double decker bus which suggests that we are not far of that the the Postal Service and printed communications are viewed by tourists looking at a historical monument and not a living, breathing enterprise.  

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