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News, updates and all kind of goodies

Today, we're happy to welcome Austria into the club of countries that have issued Postcrossing-themed stamps! Here's what their shiny new stamp looks like:

A new Postcrossing stamp... from Austria!

The stamp was designed by Robert Sabolovic and depicts a stylised "wall of postcards", with the word POSTCROSSING in front of it, painted in the Austrian flag colours.

To celebrate the stamp launch, a meetup was held on Hirtenberg's Kulturehaus today, where postcrossers came together to write and send postcards with the new stamp and special first-day cancellation mark.

IMG 5745

Photo by Eva (aka Meixi)

P1340203 Mr

Mr. Sabolovic, who designed the stamp, was also in attendance, and autographed postcards and stamps.

WP 20160521 009

Photos by Anita (aka honeybee)

20160521 112202

Photo by Sabine (aka turtles)

In the end, a wonderful time was had by all, and hundreds of postcards were carefully stamped, postmarked and put on their way. Maybe one of them will land on your mailbox soon? 😊

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As lovers of all things snail-mail related, we have a soft spot for postcards featuring postal themes. So naturally, when this particular postcard crossed our paths some time ago, it was an instant favourite!

Postcard featuring Ellen's mailbox

Isn't it a lovely combination? At the time, we hadn't realised this particular mailbox actually existed and is was being used daily to receive mail... until one day, someone sent us an email to bring it to our attention! That's when we learned it belongs to Ellen's (aka Elfje66) and is hanging outside her studio, in the Dutch village of Zweeloo.

Ellen is a paper artist, and we were happy to talk to her a little bit about her unusual mailbox, and her art works.

Where did the inspiration for your mailbox come from?

In the beginning of 2015 I started to join a 'Stamp my Journal' project. I fell completely under the spell of making stamp-collages. Since my studio is called El' Papel (as I am an absolute paper-lover even since I was a little child) I thought it would be great to decorate my mailbox with stamps too!

Ellen and her mailbox

El' is short for my first name: Ellen and the P from Papel is also the first character of my second name: Peeks. When I started designing and my own company I visited Spain frequently, so that was also a reason for choosing this name. Besides that, I found a lot of insertion in the Spanish culture.

Is it visible from the street? Did other people (or your postman!) notice? What did they say?

Yes, it is visible from the street! When it was placed on the wall our mailman at that time didn't respond at it at all! I was really disappointed! But he was a moody man… Now we have several mailman (man and woman) and they noticed as soon as we took the mailbox from the wall, as it needs to be redone a bit. Unfortunately most stamps aren't printed with UV resistant ink :-( So some stamps lost a lot of their color.

Atelier El Papel  mailbox Ellen's postwoman
What do you do, apart from creative mailboxes?

I graduated as graphical & typographical designer. But I work mostly as illustrator, designer of birth announcement cards and making merry paper maché objects (mostly fantasy animals). And I like to upcycle used materials. So stamps fit fairly good with this vision.

I have a website and shop, but unfortunately, the text on my website is in Dutch only... but there are a lot of pictures to take a look at! :-)

Here you also can find some of the Postcrossing cards I designed! Of course these are designs with… stamps. ;-)

Ellen's postcard creations Ellen's postcard creations
How did you find out about Postcrossing?

I remember reading about it in the lovely magazine Flow, but forgot all about it. At some point I noticed a dear (post-)friend of mine showed a lot of foreign cards on her Facebook page. I asked her about this and she told and explained me about Postcrossing. She never should have done, as it is quite addictive ;-) In the meantime I join some Dutch Postcrossing groups on Facebook, big fun! We have meetings, what is very convivial. I now have some special post-friends spread across our little country!

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Disclosing one's birthday isn't a requirement in Postcrossing, but it does allow us to compile statistical data, send you an email on your special day, and occasionally, spot some cool postcrossers... like Corrie (aka Corry1919) from the Netherlands!

As you can probably guess from her username, Corrie was born in 1919, and is now 96 years old, making her one of the oldest postcrossers on the website. Her life spans several major events in the history of the world, and so much has changed in the meantime that we were curious to hear about her experiences — especially in relation with mail. So we talked with her about it with the help of her two nieces Marry and Marian, who introduced her to Postcrossing "to make her world a little bit larger again. When you are that old, friends and family pass away and only loneliness remains. We thought that postcards from all over the world would bring her back the world."

Corrie Loos

From them, we learnt that Corrie Loos was born on May 25th, 1919 in Wognum, a small village in West-Friesland. She's the fifth child in a family of eight siblings and used to work as a housekeeper and later in a butcher shop until she retired at the age of 65.

Because of her beautiful handwriting, she was recommended in the thirties to apply for a position at the Land Registry. She did, but was rejected for health reasons... though you'd never guess it looking at her now 96 and still in good health! :) To know more about her relationship with mail and Postcrossing, we asked her a few questions.

Corrie, what is your first memory of writing letters and postcards?

When I was young I sometimes got a postcard for my birthday. Later, when I was on holidays I would always send postcards to my family and friends. I have also corresponded for many years with a Hungarian girl who had moved from Hungary to the Netherlands. She has lived with my family for many years and in the sixties, she moved back to Budapest. From then on, we regularly sent postcards to one another to keep in touch. Internet was not available in those years of course.

How did you hear for the first time about Postcrossing?

My niece Marry was already a postcrosser and she thought it was a lovely idea to create also an account for me. She made Marian, another niece of mine, also an enthusiast and then ‘suddenly’ I got postcards from all over the world! Now that I am old and my legs are painful, I don’t go out much anymore. But with Postcrossing the world comes to me at my home! It is always a great joy when I find new postcards in my mailbox. My favorite card I got from Aats and Nica (aka aatsnica) from Estonia. There is an old barn on it with some sheep and chickens, very beautiful!

Postcard from Estonia
How does Postcrossing work for you? What can you do yourself and on what parts do you need help?

My nieces Marry and Marian actually do most of the work. They write and translate the cards and put the pictures on my profile. Every week my niece Marian visits me. She then brings her laptop and a stack of new, unwritten postcards with her. First she translates for me the cards I received that week and then we read about the details of the new Postcrossers we are going to write and look for suitable cards. So my nieces keep me very much involved with Postcrossing, which is, I think, a modern version of an old-fashioned way to connect people with one another from faraway places.

What do other people think about your hobby?

They love it! I live in a retirement home and sometimes my neighbours visit me of course. I think they are a bit jealous. They always ask how it is possible that I get so many beautiful cards. The nursing staff speak some English and translate the text when I receive a new postcard. They are also always very curious if I have got new cards again.

How has mail changed during your lifetime? Is there anything that was particularly different before, compared to now?

Yes it is! Previously we wrote and received many letters, nowadays almost everything goes through the e-mail. Even the bills you get are digital. Therefore, the postal traffic is becoming increasingly expensive. I've got a card from my father in 1937 with a stamp on it of 1.5 cents. Nowadays you have to pay 73 euro cents for a stamp; you could send a hundred postcards for that, back then! Can you imagine that! And if you would send a card with a short or incomplete address, it would still come to the right house. During the war my younger brother was sent to Germany to work there. When for the first time we got a letter from him, it went like wildfire through the village. Everyone wanted to read it, the world was so much smaller.

Corrie's father postcard

Postcard sent by Corrie’s father from Bergen to Wognum in 1937.

Thank you Corrie, Marry and Marian for this wonderful interview!

PS - Thank you everyone who sent Corrie a postcard for her birthday — she got more than 900 of them! Head over to our Facebook page for some photos, plus a message from Corrie and her nieces. :)

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We've met Chrissy (aka teamug) on the yearly International Postcrossing meetup in Bielefeld a few times already and, true to her username, her tea mug is never far away... but neither are her letter writing materials! So we decided it was time we had her on the blog. Here is what she had to say to our interview questions:

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

I first heard about Postcrossing through a monthly magazine of the post office. There was a report about it and I loved the idea immediately. I always loved to write, especially to stay in contact when living abroad. It is so nice then to hear from people at home.

When emailing started, people always said it would be so much faster and of course would not cost postage - and that writing cards and letters was so old fashioned. So even after I finally had an email address, i still would not hear more of my friends. I noticed that people did not become more reliable keeping in contact with the cheaper and faster method. No matter how much I wrote - either by real mail or email, the replies were less and less.

So the concept of Postcrossing where people HAD to write to you the moment they receive your address - well, I just loved the idea. And I love to hear from people, no matter if known or unknown to me. Real mail is so much more valuable. Emails can never replace that.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!

I rarely see my mailman, since he comes when I am at work. And he's always in a rush when I do want to say hello to him on a Saturday. But I managed to take a picture of the bicycle he uses!

teamug Spotlight interview

I love the fact that in big cities in Germany, bicycles are still used as many people live close together, and it allows easier access than vans.

teamug Spotlight interview

My local post office and letter box is not too far away (just two minutes by bike). But I often use different ones, depending on where I am when I have cards ready. I might drop off the mail straight after work when driving through town, or on the weekend, when I am at home. The photo shows the nearby letter box with a small post office next to it. It even closes for two hours during lunch time, like in some small village. ;-)

teamug Spotlight interview

Because I received quite a number of cards, I have different storage systems. I started sorting by countries. Then I bought some collection folders where I started sorting different themes, like the US State cards, cities of the world, tea or birds. It is easier to look at the cards that way instead of digging them out of the box. Even though the folders are handy, I love nostalgic boxes which I get from my local Christmas cookie and ginger bread supplier, and I still use them as a filing system. It's also a great justification to keep ordering those lovely goodies!

teamug Spotlight interview teamug Spotlight interview

There is a large wooden ginger bread box in which I collect the blank cards yet to be written, sorted by subject. Well, I have several of those and it seems I have even more new cards than received ones, because once one is an addict there is no getting away from buying cards. After all, we postcrossers know: for every subject or theme there's a postcrosser happy to receive it.

What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

Of course choosing as well as receiving is both fun. The first because you read the profile closely and try to get it just right, the other, because of its element of surprise. But after three years of postcrossing I especially like the long term side effects.

First: The Hurray messages especially if they are really long ones. The fact that someone on the other side of the world or even the neighbouring town was totally delighted with what I came up with and expresses it in so many words.

Second: How much I learn about the world. Often people tell something about their country that I never knew before. I also google places, check out details of a city, village, landscape. I have learned so much even though I thought I was quite good in geography.

Third: I always loved English and read loads in the language and mainly watch films in English. But the fact that I write on a daily basis now, also long letters, as I have gained many penfriends, has really improved my knowledge of the language and I am very grateful for that.

Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

I have not one special card. It is hard to chose one as I have received so many. Lately I notice I especially like those where the postcrosser states that this is his/her first card. In my reply I always tell them how much fun they are going to have and wish them lots of cards. These first cards are very special to me. I clearly remember my first five sent ones and the major lack of patience I had waiting to receive my first card. And I was lucky because I received two first ones at the same time! RU-4364096

I also love to get a card in an envelope, with lovely handwriting, tea, beautiful stamps - where the whole thing is a work of art.


Here are some other favourites: IL-22300, US-2142367, GB-395703, BY-1016437, CA-417611, RU-2783644, TR-257683.

Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?

Oh yes. Some countries gained independency since I learned geography at school, even though some are close and one is more aware. But for example I was not aware of Moldova. I also sent cards to Azerbaijan, Rwanda and for me surprisingly Åland Islands. I didn't know that these islands have a flag of their own and are autonomous.

The most unexpected one was received by my son though, who got a card from Iraq. How great that someone there has actually internet access, this rather surprised me. I can imagine lots of this is being controlled. I think the secret to world peace is the communication and getting to know other cultures.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

I have little spare time, but I spend a lot of it reading, or watching films (90% of them in English). I love paper as a material (cards, letters etc...) so I also do calligraphy (the art of beautiful writing), drawing, painting and also took classes in bookbinding. Also, I can't get past a book or stationery shop without browsing.

I enjoy photography a lot and hope to produce postcards myself. So far I did that only once.

And then there is also working in the garden which I find very recreational.

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Is this year going by especially fast? I feel like I blinked and next thing I know it's already April... whoa! The worst of winter is (hopefully) behind us in the Northern hemisphere and days keep stretching ahead, promising and enticing.

It's a good thing we shook off our winter slumber now, because April is Write_On month! If you've never heard about it, here's a little video to bring you up to speed:

Doesn't that sound nice? The Indiegogo campaign they put together earlier this year went really well, and they used the funds to make and send thousands of writing kits (with stationery, pens and a zine) to everyone who signed up for them. Slowly, Write_On has shifted from a personal challenge to a cultural movement that is picking momentum, challenging people to develop better letter-writing habits. We're all for more reasons to send mail and make people happy, so naturally, this sounds like a wonderful idea!

And because the people behind Write_On want everyone to write more, they offering to equip one lucky postcrosser with a mighty impressive set of stationery supplies, sure to delight the recipients of your correspondence! Have a look at the swag:

Write_On giveaway Write_On giveaway

There's postcards from Egg Press, pens from Sakura of America, boxed card sets from Chronicle Books, an assortment of cards from the Write_On sponsors, and a pin as well! 😀

To participate, leave a comment below sharing a reason for writing someone a postcard or letter. It could be something like "Thanking someone for being a great role model" or "Sending someone a list of places you'd like to go with them someday"... anything goes, as long as it's a good excuse to write!

Good luck everyone, and remember to check back on this post around this time next week, to know whether your name was picked by Paulo's random number generator. Thank you to the Write_On organisers, for putting together such a neat spread for this giveaway!

And the winner of this bounty, as chosen by Paulo's random number generator is... paleon! Congratulations, and thanks everyone for your enthusiastic participation! :)

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