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Postcrossing Blog

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

Have you ever seen a book about postcards without any images of the postcards themselves? That might sound strange at first, as one tends to associate postcards with pictures… but truth is, the written content of the postcards is often just as (or more!) interesting than the images they show.

Journalist Jan Carson spent the year of 2015 coming up with short stories for postcards that she sent to her friends and family, one per day. What might have started as a random observation or overheard conversation around her town of Belfast, quickly turn into stories on the back of each postcard, as imagination takes over. The result of this creative endeavour is now compiled in a book called Postcard Stories, where the mini-narratives are interspersed with beautiful illustrations by Benjamin Phillips.

Postcard Stories by Jan Carson

Each story send us on a journey to a parallel reality — sometimes surreal, sometimes puzzling, and often just funny. Here’s one of my favourites:

"January 22nd 2015 – Belfast International Airport, Aldergrove

A man in the line for Edinburgh has three inflatable worlds in a plastic bag. He is stopped at the departure gate by an easyJet representative.

“What have you got in the bag?” she asks. It is seven a.m., too early for lipstick, but she is wearing a thick gash of it: bloody red.

“Three worlds”, he replies, and removes them one at a time, clamping them between his feet, because the world is shaped like a soccer ball and inclined to roll if permitted to do so.

“One item of hand luggage only”, she states mechanically, already eyeing up the next offender.

The man proceeds to demonstrate how, with great determination and a little pressure, the world (and all those back-up worlds to come), can be deflated and contained within an overhead luggage locker."

Just picturing that scene put a big smile in my face, and I’m sure anyone who has ever flown on a low-cost airline can picture it as well. The book is filled with 52 such little stories, a collection of Jan’s imagination and mementos that would make any postcard lover happy.

Now if only we could make our handwriting as small as Jan’s and fit those many words on our postcards… perhaps she gives workshops? 😊

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Some years ago on Postcrossing’s fourth anniversary, we asked members to send us photos of themselves mailing their postcards, and compiled the results on an emotional video that still has me reaching for the tissues every time I see it.

At the time, we noticed something interesting: our simple request for “a photo of you mailing your postcards” produced a variety of different results. Most were photos with all shapes and colours of street mailboxes, but there were also lots of photos taken inside or just outside post offices, and some even featuring home mailboxes… At the time, we hadn’t even realised that in some places, mail carriers doing their rounds also picked up outgoing letters and postcards from people’s home mailboxes, if they found something there!

Since then, we’ve wondered… how are postcards usually mailed around the world? We’ve certainly noticed that street mailboxes or post offices are harder to find in some countries than others, but being geeks, we wanted to see the data. Over 10,000 of you responded to this question last week, so here are the results:

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Overall, things look more or less divided: while the majority seems to be mailing their postcards from a post office (either at the counter or at the mailbox there), an equally large percentage of postcrossers send their mail from street mailboxes. What happens if we look deeper into the data though, country by country?

Here is the detailed graph, showing only countries with more than 50 votes (for more reliable results):

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The results were a lot less predictable than we expected! A few countries stand out:

  • In Turkey, Brazil and Slovakia the majority of mail is posted from the post office counter. Are mailboxes hard to find? Or do people perhaps not trust that they’re emptied regularly? 🤔
  • The country who loves post offices the most seems to be Indonesia though — 97% of postcards are usually sent from there!
  • On the other side of the spectrum, 90% of mail from the Netherlands is posted from street mailboxes. We assume this has to do with the replacement of so many post offices with “service points” inside other shops.
  • And the USA seems to be one of the few countries where mail is regularly picked up by mail carriers. It sounds quite convenient, and we wonder why other countries don’t seem to have caught on to this practice…

We’d love to hear from you all on these statistics. Were the results in line with what you expected from your experience in your own country? Why, or why not?

Also, some people responded the poll with “Other”, which we always include to cover all the options we didn’t think about. We find it intriguing though… if you voted “Other”, what does that mean in your country?

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Today is the day the trio of new Swiss Postcrossing-themed stamps is finally being launched! Hurray!

New Swiss Postcrossing stamps!

Postcrosser fiden in Switzerland, took this photo of the stamps he pre-ordered online.

As part of the stamp launch, Swiss Post is organising a giveaway to promote their use. Every Postcrossing postcard sent from Switzerland between today and October 31st and which is registered before the end of December this year, will be entered on a lucky draw. Ten winners will be picked by Paulo’s random number generator, and each will receive a 100CHF voucher to buy postage on Swiss Post’s shop, plus the new Postcrossing stamps! Pretty generous, right? The formal rules can be found on this page. New Swiss Postcrossing stamps!

So, if you’re in Switzerland, get some Postcrossing stamps and start requesting addresses to send postcards to! I’m sure everyone will be extra happy to receive your postcards… and you might end up with free postage for many more cards!

And if you’ll be in Switzerland later this month, a meetup + guided tour of a mail distribution centre is being planned for September 30th in Schlieren, to celebrate the new stamps. Check out the forum thread for more details!

Sabine (aka turtles) from Germany shared this photo of the new stamps she also pre-ordered!

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We’re always in awe of teachers and their innovative ideas for class projects involving Postcrossing. Sometime ago, we told you about this game of bingo from a Taiwanese school, and now Charlene (aka clbrown) from the USA wrote in to let us know of a project she’s been doing with her class, connecting their lives to Mozart… via postcards!

I know it sounds a bit strange, but it works! Charlene is an elementary school teacher in Omaha Public Schools in Nebraska. This summer, their camp theme was “Making Connections” — and what better way to connect Mozart to students than through postcards? The assignment was to select postcards that represent the student, represent Mozart, and cards that have something in common for both the student and Mozart. Charlene gave them all an example, plenty of her own postcards, and let them do their research. Here are some photos of the result:

Connecting to Mozart with postcardsConnecting to Mozart with postcardsConnecting to Mozart with postcardsConnecting to Mozart with postcardsConnecting to Mozart with postcards

Did you know, for instance, that Mozart called his wife "little mouse’, or that he loved the colour red and had a few red suits? What about the fact that he was an animal lover and kept several pets?

The results are great and they show a lot of meticulous researching, as connecting an Austrian composer to a random postcard takes some creative thinking! Turns out, we’re all humans in the end, so connections are inevitable, once you go looking for them.

Well done children, and well done Charlene, for coming up with this imaginative activity!

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Over the years, we have noticed that the favourite part of Postcrossing varies from postcrosser to postcrosser: some prefer the sending, others the receiving, and many love both. So, we thought a poll would be an interesting way to have an overview of these preferences.

Thus, without delay, here are the final results from 11369 votes.

poll favourite part

The winner is clearly that sending and receiving are both enjoyed equally! Or, perhaps, it is just hard to choose between one or the other. Making someone’s day with a surprise on their mailbox can be a lot of fun, but at the same time, being the one surprised can be pretty neat as well. So choosing between the two is not easy at all. Looking at just the sending and the receiving options, the receiving one seems to have the lead.

For this poll however, we wanted to go a bit further with the results. We know many of you love statistics, so we did some more digging into the data. We were curious to see if the preference between sending and receiving changes from country to country? Here’s what we found out from analysing the data from the countries with more than 50 votes.

First, the short answer: it does vary from country to country and by quite a bit! In many countries the preference is for the receiving (just like the global average shows), but there are exceptions too!

Starting with the countries which do prefer receiving to sending, these are the ones where the difference (sending vs receiving) is most expressive: Turkey (38% vs 5%), Taiwan (26% vs 6%), Portugal (29% vs 9%) and China (25% vs 5%).

However, we were surprised to find that there are also a few countries which do not follow the global average results and, in fact, actually prefer sending postcards than to receiving them! The top 5 countries where this happens: Australia (24% vs 11%), Japan (27% vs 14%), Austria (24% vs 11%), Canada (22% vs 13%) and Finland (21% vs 13%)!

It is important to note that, the clear winner on this poll, both globally and per country was the option in which both sending and receiving are both enjoyed equally! Still, for us it was interesting to find out these differences which the global results didn’t quite tell.

What about you — what did you vote and why? Leave a comment and let us know!

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