Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

The writing prompts invite postcrossers to write about a different topic on their postcard’s messages every month. These are just suggestions though — if you already know what you want to write about, or the recipient gives you some pointers, that’s great too!

I don’t know about you, but to me it feels like a whole year has passed in the last 30 days… So many things changed and have been turned upside down that I have trouble remembering what life was like back in February. 😳 These days, the motto is “Stay Home”, and we thought this would be an appropriate topic for April’s writing prompt too.

In April, write about your favorite indoor activities.
stayhome

Even if your country is not in strict lockdown mode, all of us have some activities that we prefer to do inside… so let’s talk about them! What are your favorite things to do around the house? If you’ve been having more free time at home lately, what have you been spending it on? And what tactics have you used to keep your family sane in a time of social distancing?

Around here, we’ve started doing dinner dates with friends, catching up on video calls while we eat our respective meals. It feels really good to see our friends and talk to them for a while, as if they were sitting just across the table. They always make us laugh, and make the evenings a little lighter. Give it a try, if you can!

What has been keeping you and/or your little ones busy these days? Share your best tips on the postcards you send out this month, and on the comments below.

on

Tags:

Awhile ago, Dutch postcrosser Paulien (aka Paulienvdmeer) received an amazing illustrated postcard from India… and was so impressed that she immediately wrote to let us know about it. Following up on her suggestion, we reached out to Ashwin, the illustrator behind these special postcards, to ask him a few questions!

How did you discover Postcrossing? What made you stay?

It was on a 2015 trip to Ladakh in the Himalayas that I posted my first ever postcard — to my parents back home. By the time I got back home, the postcard had already arrived, and it was fascinating to know that something could travel 2000+ kms and from 11500 feet altitude to sea-level — for as little as 6 rupees (8 cents USD). Ever since I got back, I knew there must be more people in love with postcards and I googled for postcard exchange platforms. Postcrossing happened to be amongst the top results and I was impressed by its member base. I am a huge travel buff and the fact that you get to hear stories from across the world by the way of postcards is the secondary reason why I continue to use the platform. The primary reason, of course, is that I imagine postal services might be discontinued someday (they shouldn’t be) and my postcard collection will be worth millions then! 😄

Ashwin's sketched postcards
What attracts you to urban sketching? How do you choose the buildings/sceneries that you focus on?

My training as an architect-urban designer led me to sketch and doodle a lot of ideas. But it was my Bachelors thesis professor, Ar. Shrikant Sathe, who insisted that I never give up sketching. I simply followed his advice and now I end up sketching even while waiting at airports and train stations! Life in urban environments is very interesting and I usually pick a small frame of a large and chaotic surrounding to sketch it. At the moment, I am focusing on drawings humans better in my sketches!

Ashwin's sketched postcards
Do you have a favourite postcard that you’ve made?

I doodled a map of my city titled 'A-Z Bombay’ for a heritage travel company called Khaki Tours I work with. This map chronicled the 26 must-do experiences in Mumbai alphabetically laid out on a map.

Ashwin's sketched postcards

Since then, I have used the illustration across posters, mugs and postcards. It remains my favourite card till date. But I am always looking to find a new favourite.

What are members reactions when they receive one of these sketched postcards?

While posting the cards is a reward in itself, it is heartening to know that my recipients love my postcards. I have made friends with so many people from around the globe and many are in touch via Whatsapp/Instagram with regular exchange of postcards. I am happy when my sketches inspire people to visit my country. Perhaps someday my life partner will show up on a postcard too!

Which materials do you use to make these cards?

Sketches are usually done in my sketchbook that I carry with me at all times. They’re then scanned and laid out on my computer before being printed on a thick 300gsm textured paper. I am extremely finicky about the finish and take the delivery of the cards from my printshop myself.

Ashwin's sketched postcards

Thank you so much Ashwin! We love it when people pour their talents into the postcards they send — it’s so inspiring! 😍 If you’ve received a particularly nice handmade postcard lately, let us know in the comments below!

on

Tags: ,

Dear postcrossers,

It’s a little crazy out there, so we wanted to take a minute to check on everyone. How are you doing? We hope you and your loved ones are all healthy and staying cozy at home as much as possible. It’s been a weird week around here, mostly worrying about friends and elderly relatives, and trying to keep calm. But, truth be told, it’s also been a week of finding purpose and hope in the little things.

DE-8894293

This is in no small part due to the many postcrossers, who have written in to let us know how much receiving mail is cheering them up while self-isolating. Many of you are staying home with energetic little ones that you’re struggling to keep busy, others just need to feel connected with the world without the anxiety-inducing frenzy of social media. Whatever your situation might be, sending and receiving postcards seems to bring people a small measure of comfort in these troubled times, and we are thankful for that.

Now more than ever, we’re also thankful to the many mail carriers out there keeping people connected. Though most postal services are still working, the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and ensuing flight suspensions have forced many postal operators to divert or cancel some of their mail routes. This is something we’ve always kept an eye on behind the scenes… but lately, this information has been updated so frequently that it was becoming overwhelming to keep an eye on all the mail suspensions, as well as replying to your queries about them. So we created a platform to make this information available to the community, and called it the Postal Monitor.

Postal Monitor

The idea is that we have a dedicated place in Postcrossing that keeps track of all the ongoing mail route suspensions around the world, so that we can add them to the project’s algorithm. This page relies on the excellent work that postcrosser Chie (aka Chieusa) has been doing on the forum for many years now, carefully putting together all this information with the help of reports from the community. So if you know of any updates, please report them on the forum, so that they can be included.

You’ll notice on the Postal Monitor that delivery to China has been re-established in many countries, so Postcrossing is back to giving out addresses in China in the countries that can send mail there.

A few of you have also suggested the implementation of a feature that would allow exchanging postcards with your own country exclusively. This is not an easy feature to implement in Postcrossing, which is designed to be global by definition. We’re giving the idea some thought, and checking whether it would be feasible.

Lastly, let’s take a deep breath, stay calm and find ways to support and be kind to each other throughout this. Remember that we’re all in it together. 🌈

on

Tags: , ,

This week, we decided to highlight a lovely online exhibition we heard about from postcrosser OrangeSunshine. In 1926, the Dutch Postal Museum in the Hague received a fascinating donation: a trunk of around 2,600 letters from the seventeenth century, some of them still unopened to this day… This obviously got our attention, so we had to take a look!

The piggybank of letters
The Brienne trunk, Sound and Vision, The Hague (CC BY-NC 4.0)

It seems that the trunk was originally owned by the postmaster and postmistress of the Hague at the time, Simon de Brienne and his wife, Marie Germain. Inside of it were all the letters that the post office could not deliver, either because of indecipherable or non-specific addresses, deceased recipients or people that moved… or because the recipient did not want to pay to receive the letter, as was the rule at the time. The chest was called the “piggybank” (spaarpotje), because they hoped to collect the money eventually if the letters were delivered one day!

An undelivered letter
DB-0259, Sound and Vision, The Hague (CC BY-NC 4.0)

The archive has recently been rediscovered and pored over by experts of all kinds, who have been hard at work preserving and digitising the collection, and you can see some of the fruits of their labor in the virtual exhibition!

A folded letter
Opened Letter, DB-2146, Sound and Vision, The Hague (CC BY-NC 4.0)

One of my favourite aspects was learning about letterlocking (discussed more in room 4 of the exhibition). These intricately folded letters were intended to preserve the privacy of the letter-writers against the so-called “Black Chambers”. These where secret workers within the post office who would open, copy and reseal letters in order to spy upon the contents for the government! Other people used codes to write their private letters, making their contents unintelligible if you didn’t know the trick to deciphering them. You’d have to be careful to make sure that the coded nature of the letter wasn’t too obvious, or that would only draw suspicion…

We definitely recommend you take a look at the whole exhibition if you’re interested in this little piece of history. There’s tons of information there about who wrote letters and what they wrote about, and the materials and writing implements they used to do it, providing a fascinating glimpse into another era. If you check out the exhibition, we’d love to hear about what you think! What’s the most interesting thing in the collection from your point of view?

on

Tags: ,

It’s been a while since we last had a giveaway on the blog, and this is an exciting one!

But first, a question: how do you carry your postcards around? Over the years, we’ve seen people make do with imperfect solutions to transport their postcards, sticking them along with stamps inside a book, re-using flimsy envelopes or paper bags or just haphazardly throwing them in their purses and praying for the best. We always cringe thinking of those fragile corners…

Maike and Wiebke (aka, the Papersisters) experienced these annoyances too, and decided to take action by creating their own Papertraveler in order to solve the recurring problem of how to safely transport postcards. The Papertraveler is a sturdy and smooth folder, made of two pockets with space for 50 postcards, plus 2 inserts for stamps, stickers or other small paper items. They’re crafted from a tear-proof and vegan material, sewn together, and wrapped in place by an elastic band.

Papertraveler by Papersisters

Don’t they look neat? I’ve been using mine for a few months now, and can attest to its sturdiness. It’s just big enough for most normal sized postcards, but also compact, so it doesn’t take a lot of space in a bag. I keep mine stocked with plenty of stamps and some favorite postcards, just in case. 😊

And now, the part you’ve all been waiting for: Papersisters is offering two lucky postcrossers a Papertraveler, along with their handy Pentraveler companion plus a bunch of postcards!

For a chance to be one of these lucky winners, visit their website and then leave a comment below, telling us which postcard (or series of postcards) is your favorite. This won’t be an easy task, as there are many nice postcards there, with popular series featuring the Life of a Postcrosser, German themes, Personalities, Mail topics, or the Happy Postcrossing series…

Papertraveler by Papersisters

So have a look through their website and let us know which ones are your favorites in the comments below — if you win, some of these will be included in your new Papertraveler! Don’t forget to check back here next Saturday for the winners (randomly picked by Paulo’s script, as always).

And the winners of this giveaway, as chosen by Paulo’s random number generator are… picquick and MiddLin! Congratulations everyone, thank you for your enthusiastic participation!

on

Tags: ,