.... September 23th 1897


.... March 22th, 1902


.... July 21th, 1870



.... 1946



 ..... March, 3th, 1967





..... Dec 24th, 1886


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My ageing computer missed a rather important bit of the message i sent out this morning. It should have read (addition in bold):

"I have the same problem as you about finding my way around the literature. What one really needs is a '101 level bibliography: Introduction to Mail Art" 

Rod has responded to this and directed us to the Mail Art Book Group.

I stil;l think it would be useful to have a LIST OF THE TOP TEN (or more?) BOOKS THAT EVERY MAIL ARTIST SHOULD READ;

Regards, Val

Hi Val! Perhaps we are both ready for such a list. I made more than one visit to our Books Group, but this was just the tip of the ice berg (if you'll pardon the expression in light of today's news). It reminded me we can't all have the same access to various forms of information others may find a breeze to get hold of. So, in my view, your simplified version of what Ruud offered would not only help me to learn better, but also allow others to share in this exciting experience that much more easily.



I like a nice Rosie-Lee*,

Thanks for this Rose.

I know from many, many years teaching experience at Universities how important some sort of structured reading list/bibliography is to guide the uninitiated along a chosen route. The worst thing that a teacher can do is say, 'Here's a list of books -- go sort out the good from the bad, the important from the unimportant, yourself.'

Now, I'm about the last person in IUOMA to come up with a '101 List of the Top Ten Books That Every Starting Mail Artist Should Read'. (I've been a Mail Artist for less than 6 months. the books that are in my Top Five -- I can't even make it to ten! -- I've hit upon either by chance or through a recommendation from someone else)

Such a list has to come for someone like Rod, who is not only one of the Gurus of the Mail Art Movement, but undoubtedly has all this (bibliographical) knowledge at his fingertips.

All we can do, is continue urging that such a list is produced.

Regards, Val

*'Rosie Lee' is Cockney rhyming slang for 'a cup of tea'.

You'll have to let us know what you think of their take on the Mail-Art movement. And thanks for the further tip. We'll be sure to check it out.

Oh-- and btw, Val, you can call us (collectively) PPS. You can use PPS just when you wish to address me personally, or you may choose to go with PPS Rose or simply Rose. Any of those conduits will funnel your info to the rest of our gang wherever applicable.

And, no, no one's called me Rosie--ever. It's kinda catchy. It might grow on me.




Vittore Baroni and Keith Bates have put a definition of mail-art on wikipedia.

There is a distinct difference between mailed art and the mail-art movement. Artists were sending sketches out of their studios years before the postage stamp was invented whereas the mail-art movement started after;~)

So there is an at least semi-official ruling that all things Mail-Art as a movement within the artistic community from a standpoint of the timing of that event.

We have to agree, tho', that art was sent long distance long the 50's, 60's and 70's, non?


I though I invented mail art as a 14 years old in the late seventies :-)


I indeed think mail art as a 'real movement' might have begun in the 60's. Though mail art as a challenge for the mailman (not only by 'decorated mail') at least was invented in 1898 by W.R. Bray. This I learned through an interesting article in a dutch newspaper (see above for the heading and the picture of the man).


Val mentioned it already: the book 'The Englishman who posted himself'. This Englishman is Willi Reginald Bray (1879-1939). The book has been published by John Tingey, who collected Bray's pieces of mail art, and - according to the newspaper article - has about 600 items (of, estimated 30,000 items Bray posted through mail).


Bray must have been not only mail artist but also a fluxus man. He posted all kinds of extraordinary items, selfaddressed, like a bunch of onions, and himself (in 1900 and in 1903, he was delivered well). (A baby - even prepayed/stamped sufficiently - was refused as the officer couldn't guarantee the child to arrive undamaged.)

Besides that, he puzzled the mailmen by sending for instance a postcard 'to the keeper' (without address mentioned) of the lighthouse pictured on the front side of the postcard (which turned out to be sent through some times, see picture below); a postcard with address written in mirror-writing or with the address as a rebus, a postcard to the train driver of a certain locomotive (address: just the course this train rode), and so on.

Also he collected autographs of well-known people from all over the world.


More information about Bray and the (hopefully growing) collection you can find on John Tingey's website.


More items sent by W. Reginald Bray you can see here.






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