Postcrossing Blog

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

In October last year, Ethan (aka Ebot) took part in a Postcrossing meeting in his hometown of Tampa, Florida, his first time attending one. The postcrossers there were charmed by this young postcrossers’s curiosity about the world, geography and stamps, and his enthusiasm for postcards! They suggested we interviewed him on the blog, so here he is, to tell us all about his favorite postcard, and the green initiative that he started together with his brother some years ago!

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

I came across Postcrossing as I was searching for pen pals a few years ago. After I looked into it a bit, I was instantly hooked because the thought of sending and receiving postcards from all over the world blew my mind!

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

My favorite hobby is playing drums. I’ve been doing it for about 6 years and recently got my own electric drum set which I practice on almost every day!

Ethan's drumset
Ebot’s new drumset
Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your post office or the place where you post or keep your postcards!

I store most of the postcards I’ve received in special cardboard boxes I created myself out of shipping boxes.

Ethan's postcard storage box, made of a repurposed USPS box
Repurposed USPS box
Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

My favorite postcard I’ve received during my time on Postcrossing is a card from a postal museum in Hungary. The front of the card is amazing with all the vintage postal contraptions and there is a spectacular moon landing themed stamp on the back!

Hungarian postcard, featuring postal objects
Hungarian postal-themed postcard
Hungarian lunar landing stamp
Moon landing stamp
Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?

I was surprised to get an amazing card from Kazakhstan after 63 days!

Multi-view postcard from Kazakhstan, featuring monuments
Postcard KZ-46593, from Kazakhstan
Have you met any other members in real life?

Yes! I’ve been able to go to two Postcrossing meetup events in my area. One was in October 2019, and the other in January 2020. Both of the events were very fun and I even designed a meetup card for one of them!

Is there anything that you are passionate about?

My brother and I started our environmental organization called “Green Gasparilla”, about 5 years ago. The Gasparilla Parade occurs every January in Tampa. It is a mock pirate evasion where one main pirate ship and a few thousand other boats pass through the channel throwing cheap plastic strands of beads over the water to people on shore. As you can imagine, not everyone has perfect aim and over 50% of the beads land in the water and sink to the bottom. The goal of our organization is to combat this very harmful pollution, by stopping it and holding diver cleanups.

In the past few years, we have held 3 diver cleanup events with over 30 divers each time. Also, within the past year we have been able to work with the mayor of Tampa to create a campaign called “Bead Free Bay” to educate citizens of Tampa on the proper way to safely celebrate the parade without throwing beads over the water. We even created a PSA video that was posted all over the city’s social media.

Our work is definitely not done, but we have made lots of progress. I hope that this inspires people to speak up and do something if our ecosystem is being exploited in their community.

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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!

Every country has inventors, talented people who brought something new to the world. Maybe it’s a novel product or an ingenious process, a breakthrough in some field of science… or maybe a cultural invention, like a new musical instrument or a different way to look at things! This month, we’re exploring these inventions and sharing some of our country’s creative heritage with the world.

In August, write about an invention from your country.

So, I’ll go first. It’s a hard job to pick one of the Portuguese inventions… but I think one of the earliest ones we’re taught in school is the sea astrolabe.

Sea astrolab

This is an instrument that was used by sailors to determine their location at sea, based on the altitude of the sun at noon or of a known star at its peak, during the night. By measuring the angle of the star with the horizon, they could calculate the latitude of their ship in the globe, thus getting the information they needed to guide the ships to the right destinations. The oldest Portuguese astrolabe was discovered a few years ago in the wreck site of the ship Esmeralda, which sank in 1503 off the coast of Oman.

What about your country? Which inventions did your fellow citizens bring to the world, and which are you most proud of? Do share these in the postcards you write this month… and also in the comments below, if you can — we’re always curious to learn new things! 😊

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Remember last year, when the Postcrossing community celebrated the 150th anniversary of postcards? Thanks to you all, October 1, 2019 was a day filled with festivities, cake, friendship… and so, so many postcards! It was truly a happy day, in which our favorite means of communication was celebrated across the globe.

So when the day was over and the party was done, we thought… wouldn’t it be great if there was a permanent day in the calendar in which postcards were celebrated every year? 🤔 A day in which we send postcards and talk about them non-stop, teach kids how to write their first cards and just generally spread the joys of happy mail! The more we thought about it, the more it made sense, and many of you seemed to agree, going by your enthusiastic response to last year’s events.

World Postcard Day - coming soon!

So today, we’re happy to announce that October 1st, the day in which the first ever postcard was sent, will henceforth be known as World Postcard Day! 🎉

A “World Day of…” becomes a thing if enough people celebrate it, so it’s up to YOU to help put this day on the calendar — and truthfully, we couldn’t think of anyone better than the Postcrossing community to start this movement.

So how can you take part and celebrate this special day?

First of all, mark a big red circle around October 1st on your calendar and be prepared to write LOTS of postcards! This will be the day of the year to send postcards to all your friends, relatives, people you admire, those who could use a little support or cheering up, your mail carrier, or even to strangers. Plus, if you request a postcard through Postcrossing on October 1st, you’ll even receive a special badge on your profile when that postcard arrives.

Last year, quite a few of you got in touch with your local libraries and offered to showcase your postcard collections, resulting in lots of colorful displays. If there is a library or another suitable location in your area, we encourage you to contact them about the possibility of doing a display, or maybe even holding a small postcard-writing workshop (if it’s safe for you to do so where you live).

Although in-person meetups are not encouraged this year, we can still get together online to show our favorite postcards or write them as a group. If you’re thinking of organizing an event, consider planning some activities ahead to make it more interesting (maybe a quiz about the history of postcards, or a game of postcard bingo) and let us know about it so that we can add it to the World Postcard Day’s calendar of events.

Together with a few postcrossers, we’re currently working on a lesson plan for teachers to introduce the little ones to the joys of making and writing postcards, and help the next generation get started on the art of postcard writing! If you’re a teacher or a librarian and have suggestions, or you’d like to make sure you receive it as soon as it’s done, do get in touch.

Also, we’ve been working with our friends at Finepaper who have been running a postcard design competition for Portuguese art students to make an official postcard for this year’s event. In a few weeks, the final design will be chosen, and this postcard will be made available on the World Postcard Day website, for all to download and print.

And last but not least, help spread the word! There’s a lot of us, and if everyone tells someone about the World Postcard Day, we’ll turn the day into a huge postcard party. 🎉 Send your friends to worldpostcardday.com, or use the hashtag #worldpostcardday on your social media posts.

If you have more ideas on how to celebrate the World Postcard Day, feel free to get in touch or leave a comment below. That’s all for today — stay tuned for more updates soon, and let’s get this party started!

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It’s been 15 years today since Paulo flipped the switch to turn Postcrossing on — 15 years! 🎉 Can you believe that?! We’re a little incredulous ourselves… but immensely happy and grateful for the opportunity to come on this journey that has delivered millions of postcards around the world. Who could have imagined such an unlikely adventure?!

Awhile back, we asked you guys to upload a selfie with your mailbox to our anniversary wall, and almost 1000 of you accepted the challenge and showed us your happy mailboxes. It’s such a joy to browse the gallery now, and see your smiles and the places where all the postcards land! Mailboxes and mail slots seem to come in all shapes, sizes and materials, and quite a few of you even receive your mail directly from your mail carrier’s hands at your doorstep or on your local post office. So much color and diversity of mailboxes and ways of receiving mail!

We wanted to do a little surprise with these nice photos, so we put together a video filled with smiles to share with you all:

selo postcrossing brazil

Sorry that we couldn’t put all of the photos in without making the video too long — we tried to include as many as we could. You can see all the photos on the 15 Years of Happy Mailboxes page, and the submissions will be open until the end of the month.

A big thank you to every single one of you out there, sending postcards to strangers across the world and helping make this planet a happier place — you are the stars of this celebration! 🤩 Join us in a little celebratory dance and enjoy this special day!

Before I get all weepy, let me just share some more good news: we have been working with Brazil Post on a new Postcrossing-themed stamp that is being released today! It’s a beautiful stamp by São Paulo’s illustrator Daniel Lourenço, showing 2 people connected through postcards. It’s a big, beautiful stamp (click the image to see a bigger version), and we have no doubt Brazilian postcards will look extra nice with it.

We’re so proud of the Postcrossing community in Brazil, whose persistence and dedication to their hobby resulted in this gorgeous stamp coming to life. Sadly, they cannot yet get together to celebrate the stamp launch right now… but there will be an online launch event (on Instagram and Youtube), and we’re certain postcrossers will make up for lost time when it is safe to meet in person again. Enjoy your new stamp, and we look forward to seeing it on many future postcards from Brazil 🇧🇷!

PS – Postcrossers in China 🇨🇳, if you can’t see the video above, try here.

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Hey guys, Ana here — maybe some of you have noticed that there’s a new person around in Postcrossing? Nicky (aka shanaqui) joined us a few months ago, helping us reply to your emails, moderating addresses and also writing some posts for the blog. They’re an avid book reader too, though the word “avid” doesn’t quite describe it… Nicky breathes books is more like it! 😊 With thousands of books on their bookshelves, we thought there might be a few there featuring letters, postcards or other mail-related topics… so we invited Nicky to write about those here on the blog. This is the first post of what will hopefully become a recurrent series, with regular suggestions for your own book queue or upcoming library visits. Enjoy! – Ana

Since we came up with this idea for a series of posts, I’ve been ransacking my shelves for books about the mail and also for epistolary novels—and stacking up my massive to-read pile with a few more, of course…

A view of just part of my book collection.
A view of just part of my book collection…

So what did I pick as the first book to talk about? Well… People who’ve heard of Dorothy L. Sayers usually know her as a mystery writer who created the fictional detective Lord Peter Wimsey, and most of her mystery books revolve around Lord Peter. Fewer have heard of her epistolary mystery, The Documents in the Case!

Cover of The Documents in the Case

I wasn’t sure how exciting a mystery which almost entirely consists of collected letters and written documents could be. Confession letters are pretty common (in mystery fiction, at least!)… but it’s hard to see how that could make an impressive mystery. Writing lacks the immediacy of a room full of suspects! I didn’t really expect much, to be honest.

I’m a big fan of Lord Peter, though, and in those books there are some letters from a fantastic character (Miss Climpson). If you’re a fan of mysteries, I recommend those books as well! For the ones where Miss Climpson sends her gossipy, character-packed letters, try Unnatural Death and Strong Poison. In any case, that should’ve been a clue to me…

In The Documents in the Case, there’s just a bit of a frame narrative to explain the collection: the letters and documents (they’re not quite all letters) have been gathered together to show evidence for the crime. Almost all the evidence in the story consists of letters, and though nobody writes a confession as such, every single letter is a confession in its own way, laying bare the prejudices, beliefs and foibles of the characters. Here’s an example:

“Dear Olive: I have been much surprised and deeply hurt by Ronnie’s letter to me, which I enclose for you to see. I cannot believe that he would have written in that spirit of his own accord. I can only suppose that you and Tom have been prejudicing him against me. Of course, he is your child and not mine, but it is quite a mistake to imagine that, merely because of the physical accident of parenthood, you are, for that reason, divinely qualified to deal with a sensitive temperament like Ronnie’s.”

It goes on like that! Miss Agatha Milsom is quite a character, as you can tell.

If you think about it, our own letters are pretty revealing: I know I put something of myself even into my short postcards, chatting about what I’m reading and the area where I live. Sayers just takes it to extremes in The Documents in the Case, and reading it is a bit of a voyeuristic thrill. She said what?! He did what?! Doesn’t she realise…

It’s not all like that, though: there are also some rather sweet and funny letters. Sayers seems to take joy in portraying true companionship and joy, as well as the darker and more ridiculous sides of people. One of the characters, Jack Munting, writes several exuberant letters to his fiancée, and the murder victim writes a couple of letters to his son, all full of understated affection. Honestly, those personal letters might be my favourite part of the whole thing.

Cover of 84 Charing Cross Road

The mystery itself actually hangs on outside evidence, which is a little disappointing after the promise of all those letters… but it’s still very clever, the character studies are great, and I ended up enjoying every minute! It’s not the #1 mystery novel I’d recommend, but I think it’s worth a look.

To help me research for future posts, we’d love to hear more about the books you love which feature letters or anything mail-related! We’re hoping my next reviews for this blog will be Helene Hanff’s 84 Charing Cross Road and Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, and I’m also planning to refresh my memory on Jane Austen’s Lady Susan and a couple of other classics… but what else would you recommend, postcrossers?

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