Friday, February 24, 2012

Mr. Zip Revisited

Alyson Kuhn writes on the Felt and Wire: Impressions from the Paper-Obsessed website,"I love Mr. Zip. He is tidy, smiley and energetic. I like to 'perf' him off panes of vintage stamps and then proudly position him on the flaps of envelopes. I still cherish a Mr. Zip good luck charm I bought back in the mid-’90s … but I’d never thought about any other “Zippiana.” Now Mr. Zip has his own website, rich in history, photos and yes, ephemera. The site was researched and written by Abby Curtin, a college student who wasn’t even born when Mr. Zip retired in 1983. How’d she do that?"

In talking about her site Curtin says, "At first we envisioned a pictorial history of Mr. Zip, showcasing various ways he was used. Interestingly, his appearance didn’t really evolve over his 20 years of  'service,' and so the site took on a life of its own. As I was doing my research, I also realized that it’s nearly impossible to discuss Mr. Zip outside of the context of the ZIP Code campaign, so my project evolved into one where I told the story of the entire campaign."

Among  many other interesting factoid, Curtin says Mr. Zip appeared on consumer products such as ZIP Code board game, and on a children’s lunchbox and thermos which helped draw attention to ZIP Code in the early 1960s. Curtin says she actually played the board game (show above) with three other interns while at the National Postal Museum.

"It’s not played on a board, but there are cardboard pieces in the shape of envelopes," she writes.  "Each piece has a ZIP Code on it, and there are also pigeonhole mail sorting pieces. Each player has an assigned area from which you try to collect all the mail."

To visit the Mr. Zip site, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM