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Weekend giveaway: Natuurlijkefoto!

We're well overdue for a giveaway, don't you think? So this week, we invited one of our longest-running advertisers to spread some happiness! :)

Natuurlijkefoto is run by Arnold, a professional photographer who makes postcards from his own photos. He's especially good at photographing animals and landscapes, including those of his home country, Netherlands. Whether you're into castles or birds, seaside views or quaint mailboxes, he's got you covered!

This weekend, Natuurlijkefoto is offering 3 sets of postcards to 3 lucky postcrossers! This is the 3rd prize, with 10 postcards...

Natuurlijkefoto weekend giveaway

... the 2nd prize, with 20 postcards...

Natuurlijkefoto weekend giveaway

... and the huge 1st prize, with 30 postcards!

Natuurlijkefoto weekend giveaway

To win one of these lovely sets, visit Natuurlijkefoto website and leave a comment below, telling us which postcard (or series) you liked the best. Be warned though... it's going to be a tough job!

Good luck everyone! Check back on this post around this time next week for the winners (randomly picked by Paulo's number generator, as usual).

PS - For the duration of this giveaway, Natuurlijkefoto is also offering a 15% discount on all orders above €15. Use the code "weekendgiveaway" during checkout!

Posted by on 20 Sep, 2014
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A back-and-forth postcard experiment

Remember last year, when we wrote about Keri Smith's new postcard book?

The promotional video Keri did highlighted one postcard in particular: a postcard that was made to be sent back and forth between friends! It sounded like a great idea, and I was itching to give it a try... And just then, PostMuse tweeted this serendipitous message:

I suggested we give it a go, to see if it worked, and she accepted. YAY! I promptly mailed her my card:

Keri Smith's back and forth postcard

Over the course of several months, we sent the same postcard between Berlin and Pittsburgh. With time, it became a sort of tiny journal, telling its story not only on the messages we wrote, but also in its stamps, postal markings, nicks and scratches. It even visited Ex Postal Facto and Postcrossing's stamp launch in Guernsey!

And now, almost a year later, we've finally ran out of space. Here's how it looks:

Keri Smith's back and forth postcard - now complete!

So, yes, it worked, and it turned out to be a pretty cool postal experiment too — one I can definitely recommend! :)

Posted by on 17 Sep, 2014
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Postcrossing Meeting at Sberatel/Collector's fair

A week ago, Paulo and I were in Prague for a special Postcrossing meetup, and we took the Little Mail Carriers with us, so they could tell you all about it! Here they are:

Ahoj from Prague! It's sunny and lovely - perfect for adventures!

Hello from Prague!

Ever since we saw a picture of Prague's main post office on this post from February, we've been demanding to be taken there, so that we could see it for ourselves. And what do you know - six months later, the perfect opportunity presented itself: we were invited to attend the yearly Sběratel/Collector's fair! :)

Sberatel/collectors fair

The fair, which takes place in Prague, welcomes collectors from all over Europe, who come to peruse the stands and enrich their collections. But this year, the fair had a special event taking place: a Postcrossing meetup!

The Sberatel meeting

The organizers invited us to come and meet the local postcrossers - we were honored and very happy to do so! Lots of people turned up and we got to meet many new postcrossers, shake their hands, answer many questions and sign a ton of postcards too. A computer and volunteers were at hand to explain Postcrossing to newcomers, and guide them through the signup process. There was even a special postcard and cancellation mark, designed just for the occasion!

We oversaw the stamping process and made sure everything was shipshape!

Cancellation mark

Meanwhile, the exhibition hall was buzzing with excitement. There were many people walking between the stands, perusing and scanning boxes and folders — it felt like a huge treasure hunt!

Afterwards, we came back to the city center, to finally visit Prague's gorgeous post office! Ladies and gentlemen, look at that:

Prague Main Post Office

The walls are exquisitely painted with themes related to communications and post: in a corner, a young lady seems to be reading a love letter, on another, people call each other on the telephone, while postmen do their rounds. It's just stunning!

Mr. Kostka from the Czech Post told us the building used to be an old monastery — the central hall is now where the old inner courtyard used to be. This is why there are so many vines and natural elements surrounding the figures on the walls.

Prague Main Post Office

Just before leaving, we still had time to meet some very old Czech postmen and peek at the overflowing philatelic counter.

Very old Czech postmen Czech stamps

It might well be one of the nicest post offices we've ever seen! Plus, it's open every single day, from 2am to midnight! Wow... can you believe that?!

Bye bye Prague...

We really enjoyed our short stay in Prague, but soon it was time to go back to our envelopes and start the journey towards another exciting location... Goodbye Prague and see you soon everyone! :)

Posted by on 14 Sep, 2014
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World Post Day is coming up!

Hi everyone!

As you may know, World Post Day happens every year on October 9th — it's kind of a big deal for all of us, post-lovers worldwide!

Many post offices and postal museums around the world use this opportunity to organize all kinds of events. Last year, we put together a list of all the events we could find, and this year we'd like to enlist your help in collecting them. This way, we can update our special World Post Day page in advance, and let everyone know.

So your mission, if you wish to accept it, is to find out what your postal service and/or local museums are doing for World Post Day this year. Are they launching new stamps or a special cancellation mark on that day? Do they have any special exhibitions or events taking place? Or will they perhaps offer something to their customers, like free museums' entries? Check their websites for announcements or get in touch with them!

We would love to help spread the word and make this day a success - so if you hear from them, just let us know on the comments below! :)

Thank you!

Posted by on 10 Sep, 2014

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Postcrossing behind-the-scenes: unknown Postcard IDs

On the last behind-the scenes post, many of you asked how do we find missing Postcard IDs. Well... I'm afraid the answer is pretty straightforward: for every help request you submit, we compare the information you provide us about the postcard you've just received with all the information we have about the postcards currently traveling to you until we find a match.

There aren't any magic tricks for this one - it's just a matter of patience and sharp Sherlock-skills!

Let's see how it works in practice. Imagine it's 2005 and someone named "Ana" has just received a cute postcard from Portugal with some lighthouses... but sadly, the Postcard ID is wrong, and she cannot register it. She knows what to do though, and promptly submits a request for help with her unknown Postcard ID!

On Postcrossing's back office, a page is created for her help request. It looks a bit like this:

Finding missing Postcard IDs

This page is only seen by us, the members of the Postcrossing team, and contains all the information we might need to find the right postcard ID.

On the top of the page, you see all the information Ana just submitted about the postcard: it features 3 lighthouses, was sent around July 6th, from someone named "Paolo" from Braga, Portugal, who mentions he's an IT student.

Then, below that, a neat little table is displayed with all the postcards traveling to Ana. For instance, you can see she has quite a few postcards traveling to her at the moment: a few from Portugal (shown first, since they are most likely to match), one from Germany and one from the Netherlands.

Can you guess the right postcard ID for the card Ana received? Given all this data... it's not that complicated, right? You just need to compare the information available to spot the correct postcard ID!

So it looks like PT-1 is the postcard ID she was looking for: the ID is very close to the right one, the name and location match, the picture the sender uploaded seems to fit... now all is left is to let the recipient know this information, which we do by clicking a button.

If enough information is provided, Postcrossing can sometimes automatically find the right postcard ID, but most of the time, things aren't so simple — that's where Vicki steps in. She goes over nearly 1000 requests every week, going after the really tricky cases and doing some remarkable detective work to make sure all postcards are registered. It's a very time-consuming process, but a very important one as well, which minimizes frustration all-around.

So... what are the most common problems she has to deal with?

Most of the time, simple stuff: digits are out of order, a 7 looks like a 1, a number might be missing, someone wrote the ID of the next card they requested or there might be some confusion regarding country codes (CN≈CH, AU≈AT). Sometimes, in the excitement of sending off a postcard, someone will just forget to write down the postcard ID. Given enough information, the answer is usually straightforward.

But there are trickier cases — like when you receive a card from a private swap which you completely forgot about! Or when members don't realize that the postcard they received was actually sent to a roommate or family member living in the same address... in which case, every family member should submit a request.

A few postcards do arrive after traveling for over 1 year... in which case they cannot be registered.

What helps? Here are some tips on how you can help make a search for a Postcard ID more efficient:

  • Describe the image on the front of the postcard you've received in as much detail as possible! If your description matches an image the sender has pre-uploaded, the search for the right Postcard ID will definitely be easier.
  • Can't make out the exact name of the sender? Have a guess from the signature. Even if you write it incorrectly, we'll probably be able to figure it out.
  • Look closely to the stamp and cancellation mark. Where and when was this card posted?
  • Does the postcard describe the sender, eg. what they do for a living, where they live, whether this is the first postcard they send? If so, include these on your help request!
  • Submit just one request per postcard received. If you want to add more information to it, just delete the request (you can do this on your Received postcards page) and re-submit it with all the information.

To prevent this situation, here are some tips of things you should do, which will definitely help your cards get registered in case something goes wrong:

  • Try to write the Postcard ID with a pen with water-resistant ink, so that it cannot be washed away if the card gets wet.
  • Write the Postcard ID on the left side of the card, and at least in two different places.
  • If this is a card for a private swap, or a thank you card - mention this on the postcard, so that the recipient does not confuse it with a Postcrossing card!

Every time a help request is submitted, the status of the search will show on your Received Postcards page. If it says "Searching", then it is still in the queue and will be answered as soon as possible. If you manage to find out the right postcard ID before we gave it to you - congratulations, you must be a smart cookie! :) Just don't forget to delete your request for help on the Received Postcards page.

Finally, it seems many people are still unaware that they can ask for help searching a Postcard ID... so if you see any pleas for help on members' profiles, just pass on the knowledge and share the link to our special form, deal?

Posted by on 3 Sep, 2014
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