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Postcrossing Blog

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

I believe it was my friend Addis (aka sumares) who first brought visual artist Adam J. Kurtz to my attention, and I was immediately hooked. His works are a mix of pep talk and reality check-up, funny and honest in equal measures. Adam won't promise you roses and that everything will be ok... I mean, who knows, right? Like the rest of us, it feels like he's just trying to figure stuff out as he goes along. So whether he's cheering you on, reflecting all our insecurities, celebrating the little everyday successes or just making a joke at his own expense, his work is candid and mostly optimistic, and never fails to bring a chuckle and a nod of understanding.

Adamjk postcards

Every year, Adam does a Kickstarter campaign to self-publish his popular Unsolicited Advice planners, which helps people get through the year with little drawings and (you guessed it!), a healthy dose of unsolicited advice. This year though, he also launched a series of paper products, including a book of postcards for all occasions. It's called "What I am trying to say" and as the title implies, inside you'll find postcards that will help you express your feelings in a more articulate way. They're as random as it gets, and that's what we love about them the most!

No likes — just love!

Some time ago, we got in touch with Adam (who we discovered is also a postcrosser, aka adamjk!) who very generously offered 10 copies of his new postcard book for us to give away. YAY! To snag one of them, leave a comment below telling us one nice random victory that you think should be celebrated on a postcard (but isn't yet).

Some examples: surviving a babysitting gig, submitting your taxes on time, not forgetting to feed the cat, replying to a difficult email you've been postponing, making it to the dentist... Rarely can we find postcards for things like these, and there should be some, don't you think? 😊  So let us know your random little (or big) victory that deserves cheering!

Good luck everyone! Check back on this post around this time next week, to find out who were the 10 lucky members whose names were picked by Paulo's random number generator. And a huge thank you to Adam and also to Kim at Abrams books, for sponsoring this giveaway!

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Last year, the Little Mail Carriers went on a splendid adventure... that we forgot to tell you about! 🙈  We firmly believe in "better late than never" (and we know how much you all miss them!), so here they are to tell the tale of their trip to a little known archipelago in the Baltic sea...

Hi everyone! We're in Åland,  a group of islands mid-way between Finland and Sweden. It's definitely a special place, with very few postcrossers — and no wonder, as the population only amounts to 29,000 residents. They're a Swedish-speaking autonomous region of Finland though, and even have their own postage stamps since 1984, mostly featuring local nature, culture, history, society and autonomy-related themes.

Aland postcards

We had already been in Sweden and Norway, but never in Finland, which is still the country with the highest number of postcrossers per capita in the world... so a visit was well overdue!

Finland is known for many things, from their sauna culture to the Moomins, but it's also the country where, in October of 2015, a group of enthusiast postcrossers gathered in the Postal Museum in Tampere to create the first national association of postcrossers: the Finnish Postcrossing Friends (reg). Among many other activities, they've taken up the task of organising meetups in their country, so that postcrossers can get together to write postcards and explore new places — including the Åland Islands.

So it was an early Thursday morning on June 9th last year, when a group of 22 Finnish postcrossers met in Turku harbour. The cruise from Turku to Mariehamn (the capital of Åland) takes about five hours.... perfect timing for a meetup, right? So the very first "Postcrossing at sea"–meetup was arranged in a cozy conference room of the M/S Amorella.

Meeting on the ship aland1

The hours flew quickly as we wrote tons of postcards and shared Postcrossing experiences while admiring the sunny sea landscape. The association also had a challenging Postcrossing-related quiz... with prizes for everyone! The cruise ship arrived to Mariehamn in the early afternoon. After settling in at the hotel, the rest of the day was spent shopping for postcards, exploring the island and enjoying the local delicacies. June 9th is Åland's Autonomy Day, which is why there were 🇦🇽  flags everywhere we looked!

Streets of Åland alandflags IMG 6628 (1) delicacies

The next day, we got a wonderful chance to visit Åland Post postal terminal in the island. The visit was hosted by Anita Häggblom, the director of Åland Post Stamps. While enjoying coffee and doughnuts, she told us about the interesting history of stamps of Åland, and how topics are chosen to be issued. She also revealed some wonderful details about 2017 stamps.

Flags everywhere! IMG 6694

We got the chance to ask Anita some questions, and she also introduced us to their facilities, so that we could see where all the postal magic happens and how it happens. It was truly interesting to see the machines for first day covers, maximum cards and special cancellations. We thanked Anita and Åland Post by leaving a couple of hundred signed meetup postcards there, so that they could get nicely cancelled and sent forward around to the world to other postcrossers. In the afternoon we took the cruise back to mainland on another boat, this time the M/S Viking Grace.

alandgroup

The visit was a huge success... so they're planning to do it again this year! So if you've always wanted to explore these special islands, mark your calendars: June 7th to 9th is when the Finnish Postcrossing Friends will arrange a new visit to Åland. This time, the trip will include an extra day to fit a bus trip to Eckerö Mail and Custom’s House, Kastelholm Castle and Stallhagen brewery.

Aaaaaaaand, as if that wasn't enough, Åland Post Stamps is planning to issue a special cancellation for the new meetup, together with a custom stamp. Stamp, cancellation and meetup card were designed by local artist Ammi Krogius.

alandmeetup2017 mockup

Pretty cool, right? So... who's looking forward to June? 😊

A big thank you to Marko (aka insp3ktor) and Hanna (aka hazzitus) from the Finnish Postcrossing Association for organising this meetup, and to also to Martta (aka MarttaD) and Minna (piparminttu) for sharing their lovely photos. Great work, everyone!

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Most people have a favourite author from their childhood or teenage years — for many, that might be Dr. Seuss, Roal Dahl or Enid Blyton. Maybe J. K. Rowling or Beatrix Potter? Or perhaps a mix of all of those! If you grew up in Portugal though, one of them would probably be Alice Vieira. Her name is inescapable in any Portuguese adolescent's life, often featured in school books and "must-read" lists.

To me, her works are linked with a clear memory of this being the first author I read as a young teenager whose books felt "real". Often, the characters were kids just like us, discovering real life and wondering aloud about the same things we thought about all the time. Alice's words flow in the pages as the most natural thing in the world, funny and ironic at times, and yet genuine and straightforward. It's easy to understand and fall in love with — and year after year, new generations of children continue to do so.

So you can probably imagine our surprise when, some years ago, we discovered Alice (aka paisdasmaravilhas) is a postcrosser too, and carries postcards everywhere she goes... often to interviews, where she explains Postcrossing to puzzled journalists! We met her last year, and, very humbled and honoured, asked her a few questions about her relationship with mail. Here she is, in her own words!

To those out there who don't know you, how would you describe Alice Vieira?

An old journalist colleague of mine described me as the "activist of optimism"... I think it defines me well. Even in tough times, I always believe things will work out, if we give it our best.

How did you find out about Postcrossing? What made you stay?

I think I might have seen it on Facebook... but the big push to sign up came from my friend José (aka PilotOne). And then, it's really nice to receive postcards from the other side of the world, from someone who read a book of mine — it happened with a young Chinese postcrosser, who told me that he was going to save my book for his son that was about to be born (and then sent me a picture of the baby!) or exchange postcards back and forth with several others (the last one is a young Finnish lady who calls me "granny"). There are other funny instances as well, such as the time I received a postcard... from a neighbour!

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Which part of Postcrossing do you enjoy the most?

It gives me great pleasure is to pick the best postcard for someone. Even today, I was out looking for cute postcards with cats. And I also use the opportunity to "advertise" our own national treasures: for instance, if someone is interested in contemporary art — and they often are — I send postcards with reproductions of paintings by Almada, Amadeo Souza-Cardoso, etc.

Have you always written postcards, or is it more of a recent thing? Who did you write to, before Postcrossing?

Always!!! Since I was a child. And I've always insisted with my children to do the same: I have a postcard that I always carry with me, that my son sent me when he was 8 years old, from Coimbra where he was playing at a chess tournament. It reads "Mom: I have nothing to say. Kisses."
Before discovering the project, I used to send (and I still do!) to a group of friends, some of which I've converted to Postcrossing. And on all of my friend's birthdays as well. And on holidays... This year I've already received two happy birthday cards from two Facebook friends, one from Germany and another one from Finland.

What other things are you passionate about?

Writing — and of course, my children and grandchildren.

Thank you so much Alice! It's so nice to finally see you on the blog! 😊

PS - Coincidently, today is Alice's birthday... please join us in wishing her a happy birthday on the comments below!

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Every few years, we make a new roundup of postcard sets that have shown up online. The offer is usually interesting, good quality, affordable and perfect to introduce a bit more variety to anyone's stash. The last time we did this was in 2014, so let's see what is new since then!

We've narrowed our picks to sets of 100 postcards below $20 — and there's a good amount of them to showcase. Here are our favourites, in no particular order:

Postcard boxes Postcard boxes Postcard boxes

Personally, we have the Cookery postcard box and I can't wait to check out the Curious Feast... I bet you can spot the pattern there! :) But there's something for everyone — from biking to design, animals or flags, so do check them out when you need some extra cards.

And if you have any tips of postcard boxes you think postcrossers would enjoy, let everyone know in the comments!

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Meet Alex (aka Zeby), a very enthusiastic young postcrosser from New Zealand. His mom Marian describes him as a little evangelist who will happily tell everyone he meets about Postcrossing... and he's doing such a great job that he earned the very special Ambassador badge last year! So of course, we had to have him on the blog for an interview. 😊

Hi Alex! How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

My Mum found Postcrossing on the internet one day and thought it looked interesting. She had collected postcards when she was young and she thought I might like to have a new hobby. My brother had started stamp collecting and I wanted to do my own thing, I really like postcards and getting mail, so it was the perfect hobby for me.

Postcrossing has been a great experience so far, it gets even more interesting each day. It gives me the chance to talk to people on the other side of the world. I get to learn about what creatures live in their countries, what their capital city is like and what their lives are like.

I've joined in a lot of Round Robins on the Postcrossing Forum, it's a lot of fun. From the Forum my brother and I have also got penpals our own age — it's really nice to write cards and letters to other kids.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

I'm a Cub Scout. I love earning new badges, last year I earned 12 individual award badges. My twin brother and I got more badges than other Cub in the pack but it was a lot of work to get that many done in the year. Dad joined Cubs as a Leader late last year too and we all went to the Cubs 100 Years Camp in November.

Zeby and his family

My biggest hobby is reading. I love it. I read a lot, over 200 pages every night but Dad turns the light off if it gets too late. My favourite kinds of books are fantasy books. I got a lot of books for Christmas and I go to the library nearly every week.

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

My letterbox is a long way away from my house, it's a big rural letterbox and we don't get mail every day in our valley. My postie comes in a van and sometimes I am at the letterbox waiting for him. He was very curious about all the mail I was getting so I told him about Postcrossing, he says I'm keeping him in a job with all my Postcrossing mail.

Zeby's mailbox

Here's me at one of our local postboxes, I normally post my cards here as it's outside the supermarket.

Zeby's postbox

I have a whole wall of cards on display. There's one from each country in my collection pinned on the wall and I've got string leading to where it's from in the world.

Zeby's wall of postcards

My world map got too crowded so my uncle gave me a map of Europe.

Zeby's wall of postcards

I swap cards around with my collection boxes and the wall. I have collections of native animals, native costumes, Cold War, volcanoes and space. My brother and I also have a box of Greetings From cards we are collecting. In my room I have my special owl collection on the wall. The house is covered in postcards!

Have you inspired anyone else to join Postcrossing or start collections of their own?

I've talked to my gifted education class about Postcrossing. They liked the idea and a lot wanted to join themselves. The teacher liked the idea too because it opens the world to classrooms.

My Scout Pack Master loved my Postcrossing so much she joined. Dad says I talk to everyone I meet about Postcrossing. Everyone who comes in our house gets a tour of my Postcrossing maps!

What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

I like picking a new person to send a card to and then reading their profiles. I want to know about the people and match a card to them. It's like a lucky dip, getting a new person. I enjoy sending cards out.

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

I have so many postcards that I love. I don't have an absolute favourite but so many people have sent me amazing cards. My rarest official card was from Montenegro:

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Someone else sent me an official with my name on the front!

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My favourite rare country was a card from Antarctica, though it didn't come from Postcrossing. It was sent from a New Zealand scientist I met, she went down to Antarctica to do some field work this summer.

Antarctica
Is there anything that you are passionate about?

Space is a big passion for me. My hero is Neil deGrasse Tyson, he's an astrophysicist. I love astronomy and one day I'd like my own telescope to look at the stars. All science is amazing.

I love learning, I want to know as much as possible. I like trying to learn languages. I like learning about history and how the world works. I'm lucky that I'm a worldschooler!

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