Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2011 Issue

Gone Missing? Tracking that expensive lost shipment

Chinapackage

This package made it to Shanghai and back - insufficient address.

Just to cover all the bases I thought I’d call the cops down there and see if they’ll send someone out to confirm that somebody at that end actually got it. The Louisiana postal station was slow to respond, but the Jefferson County Sheriff’s department was speed personified.

 

At the Sheriff’s office a deputy answered on the first ring. He transferred me to a dispatch lady. She sent an officer out to the house and then called me back in Hawaii in less than a half an hour to say that the person they spoke with had no recollection of such a delivery.

 

The customer still had friends in her old neighborhood. She got one of them out to go there in person and also check. The person who answered the door had no memory of the package.

 

Meanwhile back in Honolulu the customer service rep reviewed the file and mentioned that postal reps have access to tracking computer screens the customer can not see. He pointed out that any package with an insured value of more than $200 requires a signature and that this transaction though marked as delivered had no signature.

 

He also noted that the name that showed on the tracking receipt was not the name of a person who received the parcel; it was the name of the mailman. The Honolulu rep learned this interesting information though the Louisiana office which though it did not answer the phone did reply to his email.

 

By this time the Hawaii end was thinking things were a little odd down south: five people from Hawaii could not reach a live person in Louisiana and the insurance receipt for a high value item was unsigned.  My postmaster insisted I file an insurance claim and provided the proof that the receipt was unsigned. She also initiated an internal investigation.

 

Somewhere along the line they also suggested I contact the postal inspector.

 

At this office the phone is answered by a recording which begins….”You have reached a federal law enforcement agency…press 1 to report a bomb threat………;" it goes on to give a list of equally scary options. Here I also reached a live person rapidly, though he declined to give his name or exact location (“We’re in the mountains”).

 

I learned from our conversation that this office can help you if you suspect theft or fraud, but it’s not the place to go for help in getting something back that was inadvertently sent to the wrong place.

 

Au contraire, if you send something to the wrong place by mistake I was told it is viewed as unsolicited, i.e. junk mail and whoever gets it can do anything they want with it including throw it away or “forget” that it ever came.

 

Trying to track down that package was stressful and time consuming. It was an expensive education and I definitely learned a thing or two from the experience.

 

I learned that a so “verified” address is not always really verified. I learned people do make mistakes. I learned that for high value items I want to spend a little extra time making sure the shipping information is correct. I also want to spend a little extra money to be sure that the parcel is delivered to and signed for by the actual person whose name is on the label and that I can prove it with a signed receipt.  

 

I also got a new look at the people behind the scenes at the post office. In this situation I have only good things to say about them.

 

My customer and I have now spent over a month exploring all the possible ways to find the parcel and get it back.

 

Where are those pictures?

 

So far the answer is: Nobody knows.

 

Will the post office pay the insurance claim?

 

I don’t know that either.


Reach AE writer Susan Halas at wailukusue@gmail.com

         

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

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