Classic Flower Stamps Have a Special Story

 

The art featured on US stamps can come from anywhere, but it’s always special when the artist comes from your area. While listing sets of stamps for our eBay store, we came across a sheet of beautiful flower stamps, that were not only created by an artist from a nearby town, but also signed by that artist.

 

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Anacortes artist Karen Mallery had been painting for several years before she got a brilliant idea: her work should be on stamps! She sent a letter to the United States Postal Service with her proposal, and went back to the business of painting flowers.

 

 

 

 

aThree years after her original proposal, the Postal Service finally replied: they wanted to commission her to paint a block of four garden flower stamp designs. Mallary was thrilled, and decided to do a flower for each region of the United States. She chose Jacob’s ladder for the north, the California poppy for the west, waterlily for the south, and trillium for the east. When the review committee received her work, they loved it so much that the project was massively expanded.

 

 

s-l1600 (1)Mallary ended up painting 50 stamp designs, something completely unheard of for a first-time stamp artist. The flower paintings were also reproduced in a 64-page album, including details about each flower. There was one condition: Mallary couldn’t tell anyone about her big project. She was doing research at the Lady Bird Johnson National Wildflower Research Center at the time, and they assumed Mallery was producing a book. “I didn’t tell them otherwise,” the artist stated.

 

The designs were completed in 1991, and printed in 1992, after a delay caused by first-class postage rate uncertainties.

 

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Mallary’s personal favorite design? The cactus.

 

 

A signed commemorative sheet of these stamps is currently available in our eBay store.

The 1909 Seattle Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition

See the amazing, fantastic Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition through vintage postcards!

The Pacific Northwest has its own reasons to show off, and the 1909 Seattle Exposition gave the perfect opportunity. It’s mouthful of a name, so Alaska-Yukon-Pacific is often simply shortened to A-Y-P.

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The Secretary of the Arctic Brotherhood, Godfrey Chealander, pitched the idea for an Alaska exhibit in Seattle. Soon, the idea escalated into an exhibition pitch, piggy-backing off of the recent Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon.

In 1905, Seattle’s University of Washington had only three buildings surrounded by forest. Planners proposed to build the exposition on the campus, which would also do the university a favor.

Unlike many other world expositions, everything was ready by the fair’s June opening, with minimal scrambling to finish things at the last minute.

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Japanese and Canadian buildings supported the fair’s Pacific theme, and local buildings or symbols, like a model of a Washington state coal mine, stood as representations of the Northwest.

On “Seattle Day”, the fair had its highest attendance rate. Some called the exposition the “World’s Most Beautiful Fair.”

The fair was largely successful, but did have one major controversy. “Human Exhibits” were more popular back then, but the A-Y-P really took the cake: the fair set up a month-old orphan boy named Ernest as a raffle prize. However, no one came to claim him, and no records show what happened to him.

In the end, the A-Y-P was a big success. It didn’t even need financial assistance from the government, thanks to clever marketing and publicity.

Looking for vintage World Fair postcards? Look no further.

Traveling with Art: Mount Shuksan, Washington State

 

On the west side of Washington State, Mount Shuksan has become a beloved mountain of the Pacific Northwest. It’s one of the most visited and photographed in the world; the artist Banksy even used it in a piece in Palestine.

 

This particular piece that you see above is by the artist Laurie Wells, titled “Autumn at Mt. Shuksan.” Its name “Shuksan” comes from a Lummi word meaning “high peak”. It’s a non-volcanic peak and makes for a stunning, almost intimidating view. The huge mountain has made many best-of lists, including “Washington’s Highest Peaks” and “Great Peaks of North America”.

 

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A view of the mountain from Baker Lake. By Lhb1239 on Wikimedia, CC 3.0

“Mt. Shuksan epitomizes the jagged alpine peak like no other massif in the North Cascades…Shuksan is one of the finest mountaineering objectives in the North Cascades and its reputation is certainly deserved” – Fred Becky, Cascade Alpine Guide : Rainy Pass to Fraser River

 

It’s common to see photographs with the mountain’s reflection in Highwood Lake near the Mount Baker Ski Area.

 

The mountain also has its own waterfalls: Sulphide Creek Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in North America, along with four other tall waterfalls.

 

It’s a paradise for hikers, to be sure — not to mention clearly popular among the artistic crowd! This Pacific Northwest monument is sure to impress.

 

Have you ever visited Mt. Shuksan? What did you think?

 

 

Early 1900’s Shipwreck Postcards

These real photo postcards from the 1900’s and 1910’s show remarkable shots of shipwrecks in Alaska and Washington. Each card has a story behind it.

The above photo shows the shipwreck of the Princess May in 1910. It ran aground near Sentinel Island during high tide, and the ship’s momentum brought it up onto the rocks. This led to the famous photograph as illustrated above. The captain had to improvise an electrical connection with the engine room’s telegraph battery to send out a distress call, all while the engine room was being flooded. Since the island was so close, the passengers and crew safely evacuated to land. If you’re interested in the postcard, you can buy it here.

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The Guard wreck postcard, for sale here.

Another impressive wreck ending on top of some rocks: the Revenue Cutter Guard hit a rock in a channel between Woody and Lopez Islands in Washington state. Again thanks to the help of a high tide, the ship found itself on the rocks, leaning to one side. The channel is reportedly one of the narrowest and most dangerous near the islands.

The Jabez Howes wreck

The Jabez Howes was a salmon cannery ship. An April 1911 heavy gale tossed the boat onshore. The crew got off safely, but the ship itself was beyond hope and sank into deep water. However, the Star of Alaska, which was also blown onshore from the same storm, was able to be repaired.

Here are some other, similarly remarkable shipwreck postcards:

Wreck of the Delhi, Sumner Island, Alaska

Wreck of the Delhi, Sumner Island, Alaska

Another view of the wreck of the Delhi.

Another view of the wreck of the Delhi.

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The wreck of the Life Saving Launch “Audacious” near Port Townsend, Washington.

Which postcard is your favorite?

Traveling with Art: Mount Rainier, Washington

Mount Rainier is a familiar Pacific Northwest landmark not too far from Seattle, Washington that is potentially one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, just waiting to erupt.

We’ve written about a volcano before – the legendary Mount Vesuvius – but for the Washington state readers, here’s one that hits a little closer to home.

The painting you see above is by E. R. Barchus, a true-to-life landscape with beautiful muted, natural colors.

The painting may display a serene facade of the mountain, but underneath the tranquil beauty is a volcano just waiting to erupt.

The main summit, Columbia Crest, is at the center. (via Walter Siegmund, Wikimedia Commons)

The main summit, Columbia Crest, is at the center. (via Walter Siegmund, Wikimedia Commons)

Mount Rainier is the fifth highest mountain in the United States, and the highest mountain in Washington state.

Mount Rainier’s most recent recorded eruption was in 1854. It has been listed as a “Decade Volcano” (as has Mount Vesuvius), meaning that it’s one of the 16 volcanoes most likely to cause great loss of life.

Experts say that if Mount Rainier erupted as powerfully as Mount St. Helens did in 1980, it would have a worse effect because of its large amounts of glacial ice and the more heavily populated areas surrounding it.

Mount Rainier over Tacoma, Washington.

Mount Rainier over Tacoma, Washington.

But Mount Rainier is not just a potential death threat waiting in the background. It’s also a mountain enjoyed by hikers and nature-lovers, as well as a well-known landmark in the Western region of Washington. Thousands of people attempt the climb every year, with about half being successful.

President William McKinley created Mount Rainier National Park in 1899, the fifth established national park at the time. Congress wanted to preserve the area for its natural beauty and “…for the preservation from injury or spoliation of all timber, mineral deposits, natural curiosities, or wonders within said park.”

Despite being considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, Rainier has shown no recent signs of awakening.

And it’s a beautiful mountain, to be sure.