Newsletter of the Mercurians

laird awardmercurial matters

The annual meeting of the Mercurians took place last October at Le Commensal in Toronto. At the end of the meeting, we presented Pam Laird with an award for her long years spent on the arduous task of editing the newsletter, Antenna, and chairing the Mercurians.

The previous issue (Fall 2002) marked the first in fourteen years that Pam did not have a hand in editing Antenna. Back then, in 1988, Milton Mueller was editor, and Antenna benefited from the work of three Pamela’s. Pamela Inglesby and Pamela Sankar, from the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School of Communications, served on the publication staff, while Lori Breslow and Pamela Laird shared the jobs of SIG coordinator and consulting editors. The faculty sponsor was none other than Carolyn Marvin. Also in 1988, during the SHOT meeting held at the Hagley Museum in Delaware, the SIG selected its name, Mercurians, which member Keith Nier, then with the Thomas Edison Papers, had suggested.

Back then, too, Antenna appeared three times a year, but also had a staff of nine to do the work, plus generous Annenberg grants.

The Mercurians and Antenna have traveled a long road since then, and so has the world. In 1988, after having been on the brink of total global war and annihilation for four decades, the U.S. was on the brink of peace with its cold war rivals.

Just as the world has changed since then, Antenna continued to evolve, and so did Pam Laird. The committed Annenberg graduate students moved on; Pam, still SIG coordinator, took on yet another duty, editorship of Antenna; and the newsletter moved to Denver, along with Pam and Frank, her husband. She and Frank and Antenna have been at the University of Colorado ever since.

Nobody will ever know how much time and hard work Pam put into getting Antenna into our mail–boxes year after year. She did the editing, the writing, and the graphics single-handedly; she was the entire publication staff. Pam also secured underwriting from the University of Colorado through her department. Nor can we realize completely her tireless efforts year after year to set up and run the Mercurians’ breakfasts, to coordinate with SHOT, and to manage the SIG finances. Antenna and the Mercurians, for many long years now, has been, more than anything else, the work and creation of Pam Laird.

After being a subscriber for ten years, I joined Pam in putting together the newsletter. To say that it was a pleasure to work with Pam is an understatement, for I truly cannot express my delight in collaborating with such a professional and skilled editor and  historian. When I learned that Pam wished to retire from editing Antenna and serving as the Mercurians’ chair and SHOT liaison, I began wonder about what would serve best as a fitting tribute.

I consulted fellow Mercurian Dave Whalen and Jonathan Coopersmith, who chairs the Jovians SIG for electrical technology. We finally decided on “the flame.”

“The flame,” shown on this issue’s cover, is made of jade crystal, stands 25 centimeters (ten inches) tall, and bears the inscription:


with graditude, appreciation,

and love


Above the inscription is the laser-etched image familiar to all Mercurians, shown at the top of this column. It is Adolph A. Weinman’s likeness of Liberty wearing a winged cap to symbolize freedom of thought as stamped on dimes minted from 1916 to 1945. We prefer, however, to interpret the image in our own way: winged Mercury.

We owe the representation of winged Mercury (or Lady Liberty) to Mercurian Pam Stephan. (Another Pam working on Antenna!) She skillfully converted an electronic image into an outline suitable for the laser engraving process. She deserves at least a word of appreciation for her work on the project, not to mention the financial contribution that she and her husband, fellow Mercurian Karl Stephan, made toward defraying the cost of commissioning “the flame.” She really deserves applause also for the skillful way in which she has been building and maintaining our website <>.

While we look back on Antenna’s past, which as historians we are constrained to do by our very nature, it is imperative that we “don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.” Let’s keep Antenna useful, informative, and fun for all. Please send articles, essays, news, reviews, queries, statements of your work, information about conferences, museums, publications, archives, and institutions that may be of interest to Mercurians.