Postcrossing Blog

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

You know how sometimes you’re in a town where it seems like there’s a pillar box in every corner, and in other places they’re simply nowhere to be found? Different postal operators have different policies about their post boxes coverage, and so we thought it would be interesting to find out how far the average postcrosser has to walk (or drive!) to mail their cards.

A total of 9928 postcrossers answered our poll last week, and here are the combined results of that informal survey:

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Overall, looks like most of us don’t have to go that far to mail our postcards, which is great news! Just over 50% of postcrossers walk just 500 meters (or 547 yards) or less to post something, and the farthest category (5 km-3.1 miles or more) is the one with the least amount of postcrossers (7.8%).

Naturally, the really interesting data is at the country level. Let’s have a closer look:

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So, looking at the graph, a few countries seem to do things a little differently. For instance, Malaysia and Indonesia definitely stand out, with about a quarter of postcrossers having to go 5km (3.1 miles) or more until they find a mailbox, followed by Brazil with 19.12% of postcrossers in that category. Indonesia and Brazil are both huge countries, so we understand that it might be hard to cover that much area with mailboxes or post offices… but Malaysia is harder to explain. 🤔 Any thoughts?

On the other end of the spectrum, postcrossers in Hong Kong and Canada walk the least to get to their mail collection points: between 38–39% of them only has to go a few steps from their home to get it done. That’s brilliant! Japan and Switzerland are also doing very well in this regard, with over 75% having to walk just under 500m (547 yards) to get their mail going.

Knowing that in the US mail carriers pick up the outgoing mail from mailboxes when delivering mail, we were a bit surprised to find out that these statistics don’t seem to reflect this ultra-convenient service. Is this not a generalized service, perhaps?

So, what do you think? Do you get enough exercise out of mailing your postcards, or do you wish it was slightly farther way so that you could hatch some Pokémon eggs with those extra steps? 😅 Feel free to chime in on the comments below!

PS – As usual, only countries with more than 50 votes are included, so that the results can be more meaningful.

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Hej! Hei!

Good news, everyone! We’re happy to announce that the Åland Islands will be launching a Postcrossing-themed stamp next year! I know your eyes are already drifting to the photo below, so go ahead and have a look:

Postcrossing-themed stamp from the Åland Islands and stamp sheet

There are so many cool things about this stamp! First of all, images don’t do justice to its shiny metallic surface, whose colors shift from pink to purple. But there’s also the fact that this is a not a normal stamp… it’s heart-shaped! You can carefully detach the inner perforations and transform the stamp into a heart — how cool is that?!

This special stamp was designed by Åland Post’s own Cecilia Mattsson, and will be issued in June 7th, 2019. To celebrate the occasion, the Finnish Postcrossing Friends Association is timing their annual trip to Åland to coincide with the stamp launch. Keep an eye on their website for more information soon, but you can already expect many interesting activities as per their usual adventures.

We know it’s still a long time for this stamp to be issued, but we’re super excited about it and looking forward to seeing it on many postcards next year! 💜

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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!

November’s writing prompt is inspired by my talent for getting distracted, and a cabbage. You might not think those two things are related, but I’ll explain in a minute…

In November, write about something you’ve learned recently.

You see, just behind my monitor there’s a map of the world that takes over the whole wall. Not Kerguelen cabbage... Peeking behind the top left corner of the screen, a group of funny-shaped French islands emerges in the south Indian Ocean: the Kerguelen Islands. One day, I got curious and decided to Google them…and voilà, this is how I learned that they’re also called the “Desolation islands” and are one of the most remote places on earth. They’re also home to the Kerguelen cabbage, an edible plant that is endemic to the islands, and rich in vitamin C. According to some reports, while the raw leaves taste like cress, the boiled leaves resemble stale cabbage and the roots are similar to horseradish… I bet you didn’t know that! 😋

So what is something interesting that you’ve recently discovered? It could be a funny fact, a new skill, or even something you’ve learned through a postcard you’ve received. Share it with others on the postcards you send out this month!


One year ago today we started these monthly writing prompts, to try to inspire people to write more on their postcards. So… did it work? Did you end up using the prompts throughout the month, or not really? Please leave a comment with your experience below, so that we can evaluate how useful this initiative has been, or how it can be improved.

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Helen (aka Honney17)

Member Caroline (aka Luminarium) is a social worker from the USA. A few weeks ago, she brought to our attention that a postcrosser she was helping to send postcards found it funny that she was older than the age settings the website allowed. We were intrigued, as no one had ever complained about this bug before… but then again, we probably don’t have many postcrossers like Helen (aka Honney17) who celebrated her 101st birthday earlier this year! 🎉

We were so happily surprised, we decided to ask them a few questions!

What are your first memories of writing?

I used to write a lot of letters to my friend I went to school with; We were in the same grade, but I was a year older than her because I got sick. I wrote my friend Virginia McCafferty. Her family was from England, and she lived beyond me. When we got out of school, we’d walk together home. She was my dear friend. Her family raised prize winning black angus cows. After school we’d walk down the hill and through a cow path in the field. We’d get to her fence and she would jump over and we’d walk to our own houses. You could get a postcard for a penny back then. I wrote to her till I got married. Galveston, IN (where Helen was born) had eight houses then. The house I was born in is still there. Our first cousins lived there too. I think I’m the only one left of this generation. My mother’s family was from Ireland. I used to love to write. They always used to call on me because I made up good stories. They wanted me to be on the high school newspaper. I only got one semester of my freshman year. I was 14 and didn’t have a home then, so I went to work in a dry goods store.

A framed painting of Helen's family barn, painted by a friend from a photo.
A framed painting of Helen’s family barn, painted by a friend from a photo.
How did you hear about Postcrossing?

I heard about Postcrossing in a place I used to live, but didn’t start participating till my helper introduced it to me.

What do you do and what do you need help with to participate in Postcrossing?

I think up stuff, but I have trouble writing because my hand is clunky, so I need help writing. What you don’t use, you lose! I save the postcards I get for my helper to register them. She gets the addresses for me and I tell her what to write. I sign them all.

Helen (aka Honney17)  and Caroline (aka Luminarium) Helen (aka Honney17)  and her postcards
Helen, Caroline and some postcards they’ve received.
What are your first memories of getting mail? How has mail changed over the years?

Back in the beginning, a horse and buggy brought it to us in the country; then they got a car, a Ford. A rattling good car. Sometimes if you didn’t live in a city you had to go downtown to get mail because they wouldn’t deliver it. I had a cousin who delivered mail. We had a little mailbox along the dirt road and I mostly remember when the mail carrier had an old jalopy and would bring it to the box. It was a Ford, I think. They were the first cars anyone knew about. “Shake, Rattle, and Roll.” There was a box on the side to help fix a tire and you had to crank them! And, if you didn’t do it right, the crank would go backwards and break your arm. My brother used to push it (our Ford), to get it up and running, and then had to run and jump in.

What do people think about you participating in PostCrossing?

People that work here notice I get mail; it doesn’t look like anybody here gets much mail. Maybe people have family here that don’t write. My son and daughter visit me. I lost my cousin and my friend so it’s nice to get mail.

Helen (aka Honney17)  and her postcards
Helen and her postcards.
What does Postcrossing mean to you?

It’s interesting because you get personal, and that’s big—to get mail. We all live in our little worlds, and you don’t have many activities to do, and this is a hobby you can be busy with. And the cards come, and people are living all over the world, and it’s interesting to read about their families and work and see the cards they send. I bet they wonder about America the way I wonder about the places they live. It’s almost like taking a trip—you get a picture in your mind. It’s like a little vacation. The postcards are something I look forward to. It really makes me think about places and people differently than I have before. Every postcard is something to look forward to.

Do you have a Favorite post card?

DE-7117460. It looks like a dog I used to love that my grandson adopted when he was going through a hard time. He got that pup and it helped him out of his depression.

DE-7117460
What kind of post cards would you most like to receive?

Besides birds and dogs, it would be nice to have pictures of your country. Your buildings, and how they are built, and what the people look like.

Thank you so much to Helen and Caroline for this lovely interview!

As Helen mentions in the interview, people in her Senior Assisted Living community don’t get much mail nowadays… so how about we send them some? With the permission of her family and Activities Director Valarie, we’re publishing here the address of the place where she lives, so that if you want, you can send a postcard there and make a senior’s day a little bit brighter. 😊 Send iconic images of your town/country with a fact and greeting from where you live, and then Caroline and Valarie will organize them so that everyone can enjoy them! :)

Here is the address then:

ATTN: Valarie
TO: Helen & Friends
8300 NW Barry Rd,
Kansas City, MO 64153
USA

Shall we fill their mailbox with postcards, and give Helen and her friends the opportunity to travel around the world through them?

PS – Caroline says that postcrossers are welcome to include their address, but please understand they won’t be able to write back to everyone.

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As promised, here are the Little Mail Carriers to tell us all about their exciting visit to the Museum for Communication, in Berlin.

Hallo zusammen! We arrived at the museum in the early morning with lots of letters to deliver.

Museum for Communication building, in Berlin

After almost being run over by one of their cool robots, we started exploring the exhibitions. While we were marveling at the variety of mail boxes, we met Stefan, who was very happy to receive a letter from us. Did you spot him in the movie in our previous post?

The Little Mail Carriers meet Stefan

We also found a large collection of stamps in the exhibition and in the basement they have a “tableau” of some of the most well-known and rarest letters and stamps, including the über famous Mauritius blue!

The Mauritius Blue stamp

They are displayed alongside lots of other treasures from the history of communication, which is why they call it the “writing chamber”.

The Writing Chamber

We also learned a lot about postcards. In Germany, postcards, as we know them today, were officially approved in 1905, prior to that the address was written on one side and the text on the other (starting in 1870). Images were introduced early on before becoming one of the main features of postcards.

Our favorite part was a cool installation of a mail pneumatic tube! We embarked on a journey through the tubes to deliver a letter to Anne, which you can see in our video. The distance on the museum’s pneumatic tube installation is only 30 metres (about 100 feet), but the total length of the pneumatic tube system in Berlin in 1940 measured 400 kilometres (or 250 miles) — 1,333 times longer!

Researching in the library

Afterwards, we paid a visit to the museum’s library. It’s an important part of the museum, as it contains many sources on the history of communication, namely postal service and telecommunication. Researchers and museum staff use the resources for projects and new exhibitions. Here we met Florian, who was happy to help us write a short greeting into our travel journal and guided us behind the scenes to tell us about the large part of the collection that is not displayed in the exhibitions.

Mailboxes in storage

Together with the Museum for Communication Frankfurt, the Museum for Communication Nürnberg and the Archive for Philately Bonn, the Museum for Communication in Berlin forms a foundation with a large collection that is housed in two major storage spaces and the archive for philately. One of the storages is in Berlin, the other one in Frankfurt am Main. Thus, we went to the collections in Berlin-Tempelhof, where we found a great variety of objects and met more friendly museum staff members.

Pneumatic post Scales in storage

Among the objects were additional mail boxes, historic pneumatic tubes, post house signs and lots of photographs and postcards. We also made new friends with workers active in the miniature models of postal facilities such as a parcel sorting center and couldn’t resist the bus ride in a model of an old post bus! The original vehicles are located in Frankfurt am Main.

 Miniature post bus

The collection also stores a large number of letters sent by and to soldiers during different wars (e.g. WWI and WWII), letters that were exchanged between East and West Germany between 1949 and 1990 and letters between friends and lovers. We learned a lot about the postal system as well as the stories behind the letters — and you can too, as it is possible to research a lot of these letters online at www.briefsammlungen.de.

Goodbye Berlin!

Full of impressions, we delivered our last letters and hopped into the museum’s mailbox to continue our journey Tschüß Berlin!

A big thank you to Anne-Sophie Gutsche, Stefan Jahrling and Johannes Lindenlaub from the Museum for Communication for agreeing to host the little guys, writing and taking all these photos! 😊 On they go on their next adventure…

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