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Postcrossing Blog

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

May is here, so it’s time to choose the best EUROPA stamp of the year!

This year’s theme is “Bridges”, a theme which we are particularly fond of, for what are postcards if not metaphorical bridges between two worlds? Sadly, most post offices took a less poetic approach to the theme, and featured almost exclusively physical constructions…

EUROPA stamp 2018

Nothing wrong with that, but personally, we would have liked to see a bit more imagination in the chosen approach. Still, there are some beautiful stamps in the selection, so please go check out all the entries and cast your vote to help PostEurop choose the best bridge stamp of 2018! 🌉

P.S. – We’re curious to know… which bridge did you vote for? And how many of them have you crossed yourself? Let us know in the comments!

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Writing prompt The writing prompts are an ongoing experiment that invites 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!

These days, music is everywhere in Europe as the continent gears up for the Eurovision song contest taking place soon. Millions of people throughout the world will be viewing the event and cheering for their favorite singers, and this got us thinking about a suggestion from Jetske on the forum:

In May, write about a local or national musician or singer that you like.

So, what are your favorite singers or musicians from your country? What makes them special or dear to your heart? Writing about them is your mission for the month of May!

One national artist that we like here at the headquarters is called Rodrigo Leão. He’s an influential musician and songwriter in Portugal, whose best instrumental compositions can easily transport us to a different time and place.

Let’s share our musical heritage on the postcards we write this month… and hopefully finish the month with eclectic and multi-national playlists to write our postcards to!

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I believe most postcrossers have a soft spot for stamps. Who can help but be enthralled by their history and design, and the stories they tell in such a small format? There have been stamp collectors for as long as there have been stamps, but philately goes beyond simply keeping a collection. A big part of the field is actually the research of stamps and postal history.

One association whose members are dedicated to these goals is the Royal Philatelic Society London (or RPSL). We discovered it through Barrie (aka PeaceFox), who is both a postcrosser and one of RPSL’s assistant curators. When we first met him at a philatelic exhibition in Tampere last year, he talked so passionately about his work that we promised to check it out. Sometime after that, the Little Mail Carriers magically found themselves in the British capital with a bit of free time… so we sent them to the RPSL to explore and report back. Here’s their travel diary.

Hello from London 🇬🇧! There’s so much to see and do, and everything looks so posh here! But there’s no time for shopping or sightseeing today, as we’re on a mission: to visit and learn about the Royal Philatelic Society London, the oldest philatelic society in the world.

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The home of the RPSL is a lovely historical building in the heart of London, where we were received by their museum’s curator Juliet Turk. She explained that the Society was founded on April 10th, 1869 with a diary which they still keep…

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… but only truly became “The Royal” (as it is known among its members) 37 years later, when King Edward VII gave permission for the usage of the Royal prefix. Over time, several royal figures have been patrons of the RPSL, most notably King George V, who was an enthusiastic stamp collector and also served as president of the Society from 1896 to 1910.

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One interesting project that the Society is responsible for is the Museum of Philatelic History. Their permanent exhibition in the basement features displays on printing, using, collecting and exhibiting stamps, as well as post office tools and other interesting specimens… and even the printing press of Jean de Sperati, a famous master of philatelic forgeries!

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Visitors have access to temporary exhibitions and themed displays throughout the building, as well as historical artefacts related to philately — including this plaster cast effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Arnold Machin. If she looks familiar, it’s because this is the image featured not only on the ubiquitous Machin stamps series, but its silhouette is also used in all the British stamps that don’t have a photo of the Queen herself.

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Juliet also gave us a peek into the museum’s archives, which include the Perkins Bacon records. This British company was responsible for printing many series of stamps, among which is the famous Penny Black. Their impeccable accounting and printing journals detail when each series of stamps were printed, and are thus a valuable resource for philatelists.

But… what about postcards?

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Oh, here they are! These date roughly between 1890 and 1920, and were sent to the RPSL’s Experts Committee, the department tasked with the job of certifying the authenticity of stamps.

Rosemary Green, a fellow of the RPSL, bequeathed a huge collection of archives, over 60 medals, 80 antique weighing scales and 50 Tunbridge Ware stamp boxes in 2012. Among the collection are these adorable kitten postcards, featuring scales.

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To keep their collections in good hands, many philatelists bequeath their stamps and prized postal possessions to the Society in their wills, and as a result, great treasures can be found in the RPSL’s own collection… and also some tiny ones, like this mini-postcard that Juliet showed us!

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How cute is that?!

There is also a library at the RPSL, where members come to research philatelic topics. Since every stamp is a mini-testimony to a certain era, there is a lot you can learn about the world through them. Over the years, we’ve seen many philatelic displays in exhibitions around the world, and it’s very likely that some of the research made for them came from the materials in this extensive library.

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At the end of our tour, we sat down with a cup of tea and marvelled at their colorful bookshelves stretching almost to the ceiling. You should definitely come visit, if you’re interested in stamps and philately! Independent Museum tours are free and guided tours start at £5, but booking is required.

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That was a brilliant visit — thank you Juliet and Barrie, for taking such good care of us! 😊

As we left the building, the sun was shining in London, so we went out to see the sights. Well tell you all about it in a different post… Stay tuned!

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When life is busy and chaotic, settling in with a good book usually slows the world down and allows us to escape into imagination. When the book is a children’s story, we share the experience with another, whether we are reading to a child, or the child is reading to us. And when the book is about a topic near and dear to one’s own heart, the reading is all the more enjoyable.

There are many children’s books about the postal experience, and I have selected a few that are among my favorites.

Letters from Felix The first, Letters From Felix, by Annette Langen and Constanza Droop, features a lost teddy bear named Felix, who has great adventures as he tries to find his way back to his adoring human, Sophie. The book is not only a charming read, but also a visual delight. Felix writes letters to Sophie telling her where he is and what he sees at each location. And the book has the actual letters, in real envelopes! It is such fun to turn the page and find an actual letter your child can pull out and unfold and read. The letters always have an interesting tidbit about Felix’s current location and Sophie learns a little bit geography along the way.

The Day the Crayons Quit

In The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers, Duncan goes looking for his box of crayons only to find a stack of letters from the crayons. Each letter expresses a need, like more variety in life or maybe more respect. The red crayon wants to do more than just color hearts and fire trucks. Beige seeks to be more than just “light brown.” And pink, well pink is tired of being considered a “girl color.” Duncan takes the letters to heart and we get a very happy ending.

I Wrote You a Note by Lizi Boyd, Dear Panda by Miriam Latimer, Abuela’s Special Letters by Jacqueline Jules, and The Lonely Mailman by Susanna Isern, all tell stories about how letters connect us to the world around us in unexpected ways. The books are written for children but they will be enjoyed by anyone.

Mixed books Yours Sincerely, Giraffe

My favorite of all the books I read for this post is Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwasa. This is the tale of Giraffe, who wants to expand his horizons beyond his native Africa and decides to write to anyone who lives far away. Lucky for Giraffe that Pelican has just started a mail delivery service. As the story progresses we read about Giraffe’s concern about the letter arriving, and then his anticipation of what might be in the return post. Postcrossers will recognize those feelings! Giraffe’s letter ends up with Penguin, who lives in Antarctica. As the letter exchange continues, the fun begins. Imagine trying to describe something that your reader has never seen. Giraffe tells Penguin of his long neck. Penguin has no idea what a neck is, but with the help of Whale, they try to figure it out. The back and forth conversation via letters is both funny and thought provoking. And when Giraffe finally goes to visit Penguin, and decides to dress like what he imagines penguins look like… well, my grandchildren found it quite entertaining!

What are some of your favorite postally theme books for children? Tell us in the comments!

PS – A big thank you to postmuse, who patiently read all these books to her grandchildren and then wrote about them for our blog. 😊

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Becky (aka BeckyS) is a postcrosser from Port Orchard, a small town in the Puget Sound region of Washington state. She is a trained electrician, but a homemaker at heart and has a very cool hobby… Read more to find out!

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

I no longer remember how I found out about Postcrossing. I imagine that I read it somewhere on the internet. What I do know is that I am glad that I joined Postcrossing. It gives me the opportunity to “travel” the world and to connect with people from all walks of life.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?
Becky and the pinball machine

I enjoy reading and spending time with my two granddaughters. I am also a competitive pinball player or what is affectionately called, a “Pinhead.” I am a member of the Bremerton Pinball League. Many of the other members are much younger than myself. Fortunately, for me, they generously share pointers on how I can improve my “Skillshots.”

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

Each November, I edit my Postcrossing profile to include Christmas themed postcards. This holiday season I have received 193 Christmas postcards from Postcrossers. Often, Christmas postcards arrive as late as March. Which is okay, because I keep them up on my wall for the entire year.

Stamps and recipe postcards

I keep a good assortment of stamps and I also collect recipe postcards. Over the years, my Postcrossing Family has introduced me to many delicious foods. One of my favorites is the Steam Pudding postcard, GB-348590. I love food and trains.

Many postcards!

Once upon a time, I received 18 postcards in one mail delivery. Which made my mailbox very happy!

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

One of the first postcards that I received through Postcrossing, and the first that I received from Russia, was from nata_, RU-56490. She drew and painted the postcard. Also, on the flip-side of the postcard, she wrote an original fairy tale. She continued to send handcrafted postcards to my granddaughters for a couple of years.

Nata's postcards

Her work is really quite amazing and she must have spent countless hours creating them.

What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

I enjoy everything about the Postcrossing experience. Although, my favorite part has been reading the emails. It gives me great pleasure to discover that my postcard brightened a fellow Postcrosser’s day.

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

I am always impressed by the kindness and generosity shown by Postcrossers. In my profile, I mention that I share the postcards that I receive with my mother. I also mention that she is a fan of Elvis. Guess who now has an impressive collection of Elvis themed postcards?

Elvis postcards that Becky's mom has received

Look at how happy Postcrossers have made my mother!

Have you met any other members in real life?
Puget Sound meetup

Ever since I received my first meetup postcard, I have wanted to attend a meetup. This past Summer, I discovered the Puget Sound Postcrossing Group in Seattle. I have attended two of their meetups and enjoyed myself tremendously. We share stickers, write postcards and chat about Postcrossing over cups of coffee. If you ever get a chance to attend a meetup, please do, you will enjoy the best of times.

Is there anything that you are passionate about?

People are my passion. My husband says that I have never met a stranger. I savor that moment when I make a human connection with someone. It is simply delicious to see a smile light up their face. I’m looking forward to making more connections through Postcrossing. Keep a lookout, someday, I just may send a smile through your mailbox. Happy Postcrossing!

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