Plunkett, Edward Milton. MAIL ART. New York: 1976. A piece of mail art self-addressed (signed) by Edward M. Plunkett (“Ed” Plunkett) and mailed to himself as an unassembled collage, bearing the hand-written message on the back of the envelope “Your subscription copy of Rocket News Issue #5 enclosed Thank You!”. The front of the envelope has a paste-on “STICK-ON BLOB No. 3.” The return address label is for the Crescent Moon Novelties, located at 83 Murray Street, New York, N. Y. 10007. Postmarked on February 27, 1976 at the Church Street Station (10007), it contains a blank index card with the preprinted caption: “My recipe for:” and an old-fashioned stove. Also in the envelope are the unassembled pieces of a collage, or working collage material: a color cardboard buckled Pilgrim’s shoe; an orange dot cut across; a color magazine cutting of a hand holding a new Lincoln Memorial penny; a black-and-white magazine cutting of a pair of exotic monkeys; a black-and-white magazine cutting article with a full-length portrait of George Washington titled, “Will the Real Stuart Stand Up?”, about the attribution to William Winstanley; the best sellers list from Time, February 17, 1975, fiction and non-fiction; and, a black-and-white clipping of three Indian deities. Condition very good.
Mail art is an artistic movement centered on sending small-scale works, or collage pieces, through the mail, sometimes as a chain-letter process. It was begun in the 1960s as Ray Johnson’s New York Correspondence School. Ray Johnson was a correspondent with Ed Plunkett. Mail art was an attempt to demystify the hierarchical world of commercial art galleries and the process artists must use to gain attention and recognition. Much of Ed Plunkett’s mail art is now at the Smithsonian.