Organizing for 2013: Smile while I file

Smile-While-You-File-lede 2

[Alyson Kuhn] ’Tis the season of resolve, and my resolutions, for as many years as I’ve been making them, always center on organizing. This is not to say that I don’t resolve to be a better person in general, but I believe that, were my papers more organized, I would have more time to be gracious, patient, even compassionate. I’m starting small, by filing my postage stamps—and I anticipate that the impact will be huge. I will be able to send more mail with less stress.


The 1940s were the heyday of U.S. stamps beautifully printed by the Bureau of Engraving. First-class postage was 3¢ back then, and I’ve recently reorganized my 3¢ stamps by color.


My surplus singles and 4-blocks reside in an olive green 3 x 5-in. lacquer box. I use date index dividers numbered 1–31 to file the stamps by denomination. I hereby resolve to rubber-stamp dividers for 32–45. Sheets go in mint sheet files that were well used when I bought them years ago at a stamp dealer’s. The “file” is actually a series of glassine pockets, open on two sides, mysteriously bound in a soft cover.


The “Letters Mingle Souls” stamps are a staple in my postal pantry. They were issued in 1974, to commemorate the centennial of the Universal Postal Union, which is an international alliance of postal administrations. The selected paintings represent the work of artists from eight different countries. I love to run an entire 8-wide strip across the top of a large envelope. A 4-block can also be good, especially on an envelope where I’m using other 4-blocks. I tend to only use the “Goya guy” on a dark chocolate envelope.


Now for the real innovation. It’s one thing to organize my stamps for easy use in my home office. It’s another to organize them for use on the go, which is to say, at the post office or on a trip.

Photo by Jake Wien, the happy recipient

I arranged the stamps on this box at my habitual “desk” at my post office, under a rather acute time constraint. Mailed on Saturday, December 8, scant minutes before the 1 p.m. closing bell. (Actually, there is no bell, but there is a gently clanging grille.) Received in New Hampshire on Monday, December 10. How wow.


Meet my new P.O. Kit. The pouch (from Blue Q) is roomy enough for a glue stick. It is, however, a tad too narrow to accommodate panes of stamps—so I trim their edges.


I have fashioned a port-a-file by affixing #2 glassine envelopes (the size that perfectly holds a business card), flap side out, to the pages of a little notebook. The glassines hold postage in ascending denominations. I considered renaming the notebook Field Stamps, but ultimately just “branded” it with an orange reinforcement.


I will restock the notebook faithfully and keep my P.O. Kit at the ready for trips to the post office. And speaking of trips, I am spending the beginning of January in Paris. I look forward to my maiden voyage to the bureau de poste in the Eiffel Tower, armed with freshly organized postage left over from my last trip, when the Euro was new—and the dollar strong.


Next week on Felt & Wire—On the go in Paris: Transport à la mode

Photos, except as noted, © 2013 StudioAlex

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Comments (3)

  1. Posted by Mick Hodgson on 01.2.13 at 11:40 am

    So lovely to see behind the philately scenes of the Kuhncierge. You’ve got most of us licked. Bon Annee Nouveau et bon voyage!

  2. Posted by La Constance on 01.4.13 at 3:10 pm

    Alyson, my dear old friend who turned me on to posatage stamps!

  3. Posted by Madelyn on 01.18.13 at 9:15 pm

    Being a recipient of a well dressed envelope/package has been one of the pleasures of knowing one Kuhncierge. Merci

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