The humorist and fenestration cleanliness engineer Stevenson Hugh Mields has sent along another First Issue envelope with an engraving of not one but two proposed modernist plans, which he has named “Optical Illusion,” and which I have placed for readers’ amusement next to his earlier First Issue engraving from January.
The latter envelope was evidently sent to a Dutchman: “P. A. J. Van Der Loo/Paradijsstraat 63/Voorsburg, Holland.” What did he make of it?
“Close examination reveals,” Steve writes, “that the 10-story office building pad is floating over the high-tech one-story reduced-F.A.R. [floor/area ratio] office of the future. Or perhaps a lab for biological WMD?” I laugh. You laugh. We all laugh. WMD has officially entered the realm of sit-down comedy. But let us not forget that this was 1967. WMD as we know it today was still not yet even a figment of our collective funny bone.
One shudders, and not just at the designs. The leftmost engraving shows planners around a table planning a project to be inflicted upon an actual site, also depicted. The second engraving shows no planners planning but two plans, one hovering over the other. In neither case is an associated site depicted. Maybe the top plan is about to land on the bottom plan. Place them side by side and they could duke it out. Maybe neither plan really exists – ha ha! – recapitulating WMD en avance! Or, worse, maybe they do.
The committee that designed these two examples of the U.S. Post Office’s responsibility to stroke America’s elites and their earnest designs upon our future apparently used two different engravers for the job: Art Craft (l.) and Artmaster (r.) It would be unfair to blame either engraver for the manifold flaws of the three plans. Were they competing for a more lucrative job within the postal administration? Let’s hope the job went to the Art Craft. Artmaster seems to have produced a study in awkwardness.
We are invited to compare the two plans. Recalling that the envelopes were issued in 1967, it is curious that my favorite of the two, the one with the 10-story building, the swimming pool and the little people walking about, features a ground-floor arcade with graceful arches. How did that get in? Was this early-onset PoMo? Go figure!