Postcrossing Blog

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

Erik (aka flamey) is an adventurous postcrosser from Sochi, in Russia. Sometime ago, he heard about a mysterious postbox on top of a mountain nearby and decided to go check it out — here is the report of his cool adventure, which was first published on his blog and is reposted here with permission.

Black Pyramid mountaintop postbox

"As a postcrosser – and in general – I’m lucky to live in a city that is beautiful, touristy, hosted a wide variety of World class sporting events, interconnected with a UNESCO WHS, and borders a “rare” country. There were also many postage stamps issued dedicated to our city, events that took place here, our flora and fauna, which is also nice. All this is a great basis for postcard exchanges!

Last year I discovered yet another interesting and cool way to postcross: a postbox at the top of Black Pyramid mountain in our city! And a year later I decided to try it out.

Sochi postal box Black Pyramid

Sochi, which is squeezed between the Caucasus mountains and the Black Sea, has several great skiing resorts. One of them – “Krasnaya Polayana” (formerly known as “Gorki Gorod”) – has a postbox at the top of the mountain the resort is based around. It sits right at the top of it! You need to hike and climb to it from the highest lift station. Not far, but still, it’s probably not for everyone. At first, it felt like a tourist trap: its pricey to get there, and why else would it be up there?! But then… there’s very little info about it online (and none on the official site), resort’s staff knows about it, but, as it turns out, doesn’t even know where exactly it is located, and there are no postcards or stamps sold anywhere near it. So, it’s a bit of a mystery why it’s there exactly, and who picks up the mail from it. But the staff assured me it’s being serviced, so let’s do it.

Sochi road to Krasnaya Polyana

I live in Adler – a seaside part of the city. The trip starts with a picturesque drive up to Krasnaya Polyana town area, where all our skiing resorts are located. While grabbing some food I looked at the thick clouds covering the mountain, contemplating if going up actually makes much sense that day. When buying lift tickets I asked about the postbox, where it is, and if it is hard to get to. The answer: not hard, it’s up there, on our territory, just ask the staff when you get to the last lift station. Something similar I heard from the customer support rep when I called in advance.

Krasnaya Polyana lifts view

The lifts start at 540 meters above sea level. The gondola lifts take you up to 960m, then to 1460m, then to 2200m. From here you have to take two short (but really slow) chair lift rides. The line to the first one was so long, I decided to follow the staff’s suggestion and take a walk to the next one, because it was actually downhill. The line to the final lift was short, the ride was steep, and after a little while I was at the highest lift station on the Black Pyramid mount.

It was windy, and cold, just 10C, compare that to cozy 24C I left in Adler. I looked around, but saw no postbox anywhere near. I asked: oh, it’s at the top of the mountain! you have to hike up there by this trail. The trail looked easy, and had a safety rope set up along it, but I could not see past the nearest turn. It costs additional $7 to go up the top. They dressed me up for a climb, and instructed on use of the safety lines, and rules on passing other people — seemed excessive at that point, but turned out to be needed beyond the closest turn.

Black Pyramid mountain views

The easy trail turned into some mild climbing very quickly. It was fun. It probably took about 15 minutes to get up there. The postbox sits right at the top. The views are fantastic! Clouds just highlighted where I was, and did not spoil anything.

Black Pyramid mountain top postal box

I took a few photos, a selfie for a “proof”, and dropped the postcards into the box. The sound of cards hitting the bottom of it told me it was empty. Who picks mail up? How often? And, again, why is it here in the first place? Mystery. But I hope somebody does pick it up, and all 15 people will receive their cards!"

Hurray for nice postal adventures! Erik was very kind to mail a postcard to Postcrossing’s PO box from this excursion, and it arrived some time ago. So the mailbox works, and reading his report of the trip made us appreciate it even more.

Are there any special postboxes where you live? And what kind of postal-themed adventures would you like to embark on?

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The writing prompts invite postcrossers to write about a different topic on their postcards’ 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!

Here in the UK, it’s already started to snow, which to me means it’s the ideal time to wrap up warm inside and do some daydreaming. So here’s a suggestion from Isaac (aka whitefroststreetboi) from our forum topic of suggestions for the monthly prompts:

In December, write about what you’d do if you won the lottery!
British Library Crime Classics on the shelf

As usual, I’ll go first! I have all sorts of dreams about what I’d do if I won the lottery! Most of them are sensible ones: buy a house, invest, put money into my pension fund, pay off my student loans, and donate a good chunk of it for people less fortunate. But let’s say you have plenty of money to do all those sensible things and do something a bit wilder, or fulfil a secret dream. What would you do?

I think my main indulgence would involve that house I mentioned after all, though. I have a lot of books already, and you can be sure that I’d buy more if I won the lottery! So I think I’d build myself a library, with plenty of room for expansion. I’d especially like to finish up my collection of British Library Crime Classics (I love the cover designs—wish I could send those as postcards!) and display them all together… and then it’d be nice to have a little reading nook or two in that library, to hide away and read.

So, what about you? What would you do, if you won the lottery? Do you have any big dreams you’d try to fulfil? You can tell us about them here, and use this as a prompt for your postcards this month if you’re not sure what to write!

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It feels like 2021 has just been the never-ending continuation of the previous year, and I think we could all use a reason to smile and lift our spirits before the new year comes, right? So we’re pleased to announce the upcoming 9th edition of our yearly partnership with Deutsche Post, where postcards count for a good cause! Without further ado:

For every postcard sent from Germany through Postcrossing during the month of December, Deutsche Post will make a donation of €0.10 to the non-profit organization Stiftung Lesen (Reading Foundation).

If you’re in Germany, you still have a few days to stock up on postcards and stamps, so that you can start writing postcards on December 1st! If the postcards you send throughout December are registered before the end of February 2022, you will be contributing to this cause and entering a draw to win some cool prizes! Seven lucky postcrossers (residents in Germany only) will be randomly selected to receive one of these:

Illustration of small birds peaking in a snowy forest

So by sending postcards from Germany in December, you’re not only helping a good cause, but can also win some custom stamps or maybe a football. Hurray! The more postcards you send, the more chances you have to win one of the prizes, and every postcard counts.

And although only postcards sent from Germany count, there’s always a recipient in every postcard exchange — so each time a card from Germany arrives to its destination, the recipient will be indirectly contributing to this donation too. Don’t forget to register your postcards promptly, so that more can be sent!

As usual, Paulo will run his random number generator in March next year, and we’ll reveal the total amount of postcards sent (and money raised to Stiftung Lesen) here in the blog. Last year, an amazing total of 11,729.40€ was raised for this good cause, which was brilliant (and a record)!

Stiftung LesenStiftung Lesen is a German non-profit organization, working to increase literacy in the population, especially among children and adolescents. Their activities include reading clubs, media literacy projects and initiatives to promote the learning of German language by refugee families in the country.

We hope you’re as excited as we are for the 9th edition of the Cards for Literacy campaign, and may this be a brilliant month of helping others with our postcards!

P.S. – As always, we respect your personal information and will not share it with any company without your explicit permission. The full details of this campaign can be read here (German only).

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Here we are, back again for the second instalment of our exploration of Kosmopolit, the 19th century precursor of Postcrossing (which we knew nothing about until a couple of years ago). You can catch our previous posts about this obscure postcard club here.

Our friends Claas (aka Speicher3) and Christine (aka reisegern) managed to get their hands on a great book about Kosmopolit by Claus-Torsten Schmidt, and are here to continue reporting back on their findings!

Images of old postcards

One year after its foundation in 1897, there were already more than 1000 members in the Kosmopolit. Since collecting postcards was a mass phenomenon in those days, there was a large number of various collectors associations, and also some competition between many of these clubs. Therefore, it was important to show that one had as many members as possible. And here Kosmopolit was very creative… but also not always honest. In the “Internationale Postkarten Zeitung” (the association’s magazine), membership numbers were regularly published. To make the numbers look as high as possible, however, these numbers weren’t necessarily the realistic numbers of the currently active members. They always published the number of registrations that had ever been made since their foundation, and resignations from the club were not deducted.

One also liked to cheat a little bit from time to time. When the 2000. member was welcomed in 1899, the next member received the number 2101… so the 100 in between never existed! 😅

The statistics do not reveal what happened during World War I, but we know that the sending of postcards wasn’t interrupted during the war. Many military mail postcards were sent, even across borders. Some Kosmopolit members got into trouble because they had “contact with the enemy” by writing postcards to their pen pals.

The highest Kosmopolit membership number was #18320 in 1923…

Membership ledger for the Kosmopolit club

… but that said, we later found a Kosmopolit postcard on Ebay sent in 1924, whose member stamp shows the membership number 18535!

Kosmopolit member number 18535

In another chapter of the book, we’ve found the historical archetype of the Postcrossing profile wish list! Although not that many people used English as a foreign language at the beginning of the 20th century, Kosmopolit members still wanted to inform other members about their preferred postcards. This is why Kosmopolit published a key of international exchange codes in up to seven languages. This way, participants were able to use simple code words to communicate their wishes for the reply card.

Kosmopolit's code of collectors

Here are some examples (see if you can find some similarities to today’s lists of preferences!):

  • § = Used postage stamps wanted
  • a = City views, squares, streets
  • nn = Handsome heads
  • zz = Photographs of members
  • Adele = Blank postcards
  • Berthe = Cards stamped from the place of origin
  • Henriette = Your last card did not have sufficient postage. I had to pay a tax.
  • Ida = With young ladies
  • Ketty = Are the cards which I send you according to your taste?
  • Micheline = Kindly excuse my tardy answer. a) I was sick, b) I was travelling, c) I was very busy, d) I was on maneuvres, e) I was flooded with cards, f) I thought I had already answered your card
  • Esp. = I am interested in Esperanto

These days, Postcrossing profiles and forum accounts have a few badges, and they existed also in Kosmopolit times, more than 100 years ago! Kosmopolit members could not only acquire melodious titles (consul, representative, consul general, etc) and there was even a medal for special merit.

Kosmopolit medal badge

Doesn’t that look super fancy?

Thank you Claas and Christine, for another fantastic report! What do you think, should we make a special Postcrossing medal? 🎖 In the third and final instalment of this series, we’re going to be talking about meetup postcards, the Kosmopolit museum and the demise of the association — stay tuned!

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It can be tough to find interesting and unique postcards locally—maybe you’ve sent them all before by now, or maybe you just don’t live in a very photogenic area. Don’t worry! Every so often, we do a little roundup of boxes of postcards that you can get online, which is a very cost-effective way to get your hands on some lovely designs.

Here’s another 20 boxes of 50 or 100 postcards that we haven’t featured recently.

Postcard boxes Postcard boxes Postcard boxes

I had no idea that some of my childhood favourites were out there on postcards, so that’s my next stop… though that Button Box set is pretty tempting too (every card has a little bit of history about the significance of the pin it displays!).

As always, we’d love to hear any suggestions you have to share in the comments!

PS: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you buy these postcards on Amazon, Postcrossing will receive a small commission for each sale (at no extra cost to you). Feel free to look for these postcard sets and boxes on your favourite bookstores though — supporting local businesses is always a good thing. 💪

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