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Blog > Poll results: Writing your first postcard ever

I remember writing my first postcard: I was seven, spending the summer vacations of first grade by the sea with my family. That year, my dad decided to delegate the holiday postcard writing to me, since I had just learned how to write and had “such a nice handwriting”. Honoured, I took the task very seriously, drafting a short text to tell my grandparents about all the sandcastles my brother and I had built, how many ice-creams we had eaten… and how much we missed them. I did my best calligraphy and was very mindful of the small space as my dad dictated each line of the address. The sense of pride as I arrived weeks later in my grandma’s home to see the postcard proudly displayed on the fireplace mantle was huge. 😊

So I wondered… is this a common experience? On average, how old are people when they write their first postcard ever? To find out, we decided to do a poll! Over 13000 of you responded, and here are the results:

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Like me, the majority of postcrossers seems to have had their first postcard-sending experience earlier on, when they were 10 or younger, with progressively less people in each of the following age groups. That seems logical, as postcards are quite a neat way of practicing writing for the little ones and to get them excited about mail.

But we all know that some countries have more of a mail culture than others, so we were curious to discover how these statistics differed around the world. Let’s have a closer look at the countries with more than 50 votes (for more reliable results):

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Interesting! Seems like there’s a clear start 'em young trend in Europe, where the majority of people write their first postcard in their primary school years. Finland takes the cake, with 77% of members writing their first postcard before their 11th birthday — which isn’t very surprising, given the fact that they were always the country with more postcrossers per capita! Switzerland, Netherlands and Germany are close behind, all with more than 70% of postcrossers also sending their first postcards early on.

Shifting to Asia, Japan’s numbers seem to be similar as those in Europe, but they are the outliers of the region. People in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and India share the experience of writing the first postcard in their teenage years… and on the other end of the spectrum, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand are the latest starters of the group, with the majority of people writing their first postcard when they’re already adults.

So… what do you think? Were these results in line with what you expected for your country? And if you remember writing your first postcard ever, who was it addressed to? 🙂

PS: We’re always looking for new ideas for polls! If you thought of something cool to ask postcrossers (and that would fit in a poll), let us know in the comments below.

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38 comments so far

myshadow, Canada
I live in Canada now, but am from Germany. So my "under 10" answer should count for Germany too. ;) I can't remember my first card, but it was probably for my grandparents from a place where we were on holiday, Denmark or so.
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ironseafish, Germany
I don't remember my first postcard either, but I was always keen on writing and definitely sent holiday postcards to my friends before turning 10. I find those polls really interesting! Maybe you could do one on where people first heard about postcrossing - but the answers might be too diverse to fit in categories. Friends..., newspaper..., by chance on the internet..., while looking for pen pals ... yeah, maybe not really easy to "grasp". Would be interesting, though.
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meiadeleite, Portugal
@ironseafish it's a nice idea, but i'm afraid the poll box is a bit limited in space.
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Merle13, Germany
I also sent my first postcard when I was at the age of 7 enjoying my first summer vacations of first grade on Mallorca. Since I had spent a lot of time writing letters to my mother before, I was allowed - and thrilled - to write our greeting cards to family members. I remember how I wrote the text on a sheet of paper first so I could copy it and wouldn't make any mistakes. Since then, I have been in charge of writing and choosing postcards on our holidays. :)
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siobhan, Germany
I don't remember my first postcard and can't even definitively say that I was younger than 11 when I wrote it, but I assume so. I know I received postcards at that time, mostly from my grandparents (and my father, who when on an excursion to Italy wrote me a postcard every single day), but also from school friends, so in all probability I also sent them cards from out travels.
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ironseafish, Germany
@meiadeleite: Yeah, it really isn't a very "pollable" question. (I thought I just made up "pollable"; but as it turns out, it kind of exists ;).) Another thing might be: multi view vs. single view postcard, how many postcards are sent per month, if people send one card at a time or rather in "bulks", if people collect stamps, what's the opinion on with or without envelope...
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Tenar, Portugal
It was a nice poll! I really liked it. :)
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betslets, United States of America
I know that I've collected (and sent) cards for over 50 years, which puts me at about 12 when I announced to everyone that I collected postcards in hopes of getting some exchanges. Back in those days (the dinosaur era???) there were a lot more cards and they were a lot less expensive -- so was the postage. That alone seems to make a difference in picking such a hobby.
Overall I do not think many 10-12 year olds are encouraged to even write thank-you notes...everybody seems to text or e-mail. Glad there are still some of us who enjoy sending postcards.
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shc, Indonesia
I believe elementary students have subject about postcard, and we send a postcard to classmate. But it was just once, so I forgot about it and choose the 18-24 age group. Nonetheless I still remember the thrill of getting a (thin) postcard from a friend whose house is so near :D
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ZAHRAMALINA, Indonesia
I received my first postcard when i was 12 y.o , i used to joined with international youth service..sent and exchange postcard was wonderful..but i lose all of my postcard when flood came..And now am start again when i almost 40 but still wonderful..Get postcard is always awesome
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January_Wind, United States of America
I believe I sent my first postcard when I was 5. My parents had taken my sister and me to Disney World in Florida, and we sent postcards to my grandparents. My dad also thought it was a neat idea to send one to ourselves at our house to see if we would beat it home. I don't have the card, sadly, but it's still a fun memory.
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ChristianJ, Italy
I think it’s because of the different age groups on Postcrossing... In the West, users are older, so it’s possible that when they were young, it was normal to send and receive postcards. In the East, where the vast majority of postcrossers is young or in their twenties, the hobby might have been discovered later!
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Sfander, Canada
I wasn't surprised by the results because as a collector, I know that postcards were first used in Europe and their popularity grew from that and their ease of use which continues to this day. Some of the most beautiful postcards I ever did see were produced in Germany, Austria and Belgium and I'm happy to say I own some of them.

I was 11 when I began sending postcards to my cousin in the province of Quebec. We were good friends and only got to see each other once a year if we were lucky. It was fun and a lot easier than writing letters every month. That's when I became a serious collector.
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MagiaHobbs, Germany
Well, I am from Germany and I can remember sending my first postcard when I was around 7 years old. We were on holiday in France and I sent some greetings to my late grandmother.
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Luziaceleste, Brazil
These results reflect education level, in my opinion. It is necessary that kids feel comfortable writing for the early start. But I am glad to see that there people that start sending it pretty aged. Better late than later!
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CatharinaG3, Netherlands
Alas, I missed the poll itself. I don't know exactly when I sent my first postcard, it was so long ago. But I sure was an adult, because I went on my very first vacation ever when I was in my twenties. Before that, I was into correspondance by writing letters.
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sparowmel, Philippines
Sadly, I'm ashamed to say that I only started to write postcard this year when I discovered postcrossing (@23 yrs.old!) I'm glad that I discovered this fulfilling hobby. :)
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Sfander, Canada
I don't think the results of the poll has anything to do with educational level. It didn't ask when did you write and send your first letter. It asked when did you send your first postcard. That would have been 5 years old for me and it was a big deal to write to Santa every year in my household at an early age.
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Lorelai, Germany
So nice to read what other postcrosser write about their postcard-adventures... Long time ago my sister, brother & me were on our holidays in Spain, when our father gave us the advice to send a postcard to our friends. After evening meal our family went into the little town + took a look at the postcard-racks. What a colourful range: toreros, flamenco-dancer & summerbeach - it was our choice!
Later postcard-writing becomes a tradition in my own family. And our youngest daughter was a postcrosser too (for a while). Until he died I had a postcrossing-account for my father, who traveled a lot + wrote postcards for + with us in his younger years
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Flippie, Canada
Hi, I think that I send my first card when I start traveling around 16 years old. I missed the Poll, sorry...
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Zeby, New Zealand
I sent my first postcard, a postcrossing card when I was seven, nearly eight. Now I'm nearly 10!
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tokyochemist, Japan
Yet another poll I was not aware of. Where are these polls being posted so that I can actually reply?

As for my first postcard, I spent my summers in France visiting my extended family and so my father would have me send a postcard to my mom back home in the US as she would be working and couldn't take as extended of vacations as my father could.

As an adult I send postcards to whichever friends I have an address for when I travel. However I have never received a postcard from a friend. Ever. Hence my joining of Postcrossing.
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butterflycard, Malaysia
Letter writing and postcards should be made compulsory in schools and colleges to each and every student.We should communicate more!.Infact in Asia each class and section is pigeonholed into secret societies!
Anyone interested in Asia can contact me.
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meiadeleite, Portugal
@tokyochemist the polls are posted on the front page of the site, on the little box with a pin (the one that says "Did you know?"), for the first week of each month. 😊
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FliegenderGaukler, Germany
As far as I can remember I sent my first postcard(s) when I was 8, which is 17 years ago now. We had been on a class trip with primary school and stayed on a Frisian island for a week. Writing letters or postcards was the only way to keep in touch with family back home. It was lovely to choose postcards for the family and then post them as well as receiving mail back from family back home during that week.
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Bowyum, Australia
First card I ever sent was from Cape Town to my mother in the UK, depicting Table Mountain. I was eighteen, crew member on a ship on a voyage from the UK to Australia. I subsequently sent her another 900 cards from sixty countries. She kept them all and gave them back to me - the most treasured cards in my collection.
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ColorfulCourtney, Germany
Like CatharinaG3, I answered based on the first *postcard* sent, which was when I took my first solo vacation at age 18. But long before that I would travel with stationery and stamps supplied by my parents and I would send letters from camp (to parents) or family vacations (to grandparents). So my first letter from a vacation was from when I was 5 or 6.

P.S. Bowyum I love your story!
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franciscojclima, Portugal
I remember to have written my first postcard when I was from eleven to seventeen years old.. However I don't remember any longer the person I wrote to, but certainly to a Portuguese.
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Nana805, France
I don’t remember my first card, but it was before 10 years for sure. As I liked to write my own cards since I was a little girl.
But I do remember writhing a card, when I first came to visit France, at the age of 10. We visited the Eiffel Tower and send a card home from the post office that it’s at the first floor (is it still there ?). That was very special. Little did I knew then that I would come to live in France at the end of my studies.
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reiselustig, Germany
Unfortunately again I missed a poll... I do not remember, when I wrote my first postcard, but I guess it was with 7 or 8 years, being on holiday with my parents. With around 8 - 10 I started to have several penpals (but writing letters).
My daughter is 8 and a postcrosser herself - she started to write her first holiday postcards with 5 (on her own wish!), so that I hold her hand and we both writing the words together :-)! I was impressed, that she managed to "write" ca. 5-6 postcards in this way without losing interest in it!
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IuliiaS, Austria
Like user Sparowmel, I discovered postcards only thanks to Postcrossing :) I was 20 y.o., lived in Russia, my first two cards (I picked two adresses) went to Germany and USA - countries I've never been to. I was so excited to wait until they arrive! The first card I received (from Czech Republic) certainly made my day! As actually every card I receive now :)
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melilot, France
It was probably between 5 and 7. We used to travel a lot, my mother had a lot of holidays as a teacher, and we had an extended family so aunts, uncles and cousins were the recipients, as well as friends and also the schoolmaster :)
I began to write on my mother's postcards, then required to have my own. It was something like: no holidays without postcards.
Except Christmas: only double cards at that time of the year. But about nice stamps, I became interested in them much later, we used very ordinary stamps because I suppose nice ones were hard to find, even then, in the 70ies.
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Maria_Castro, Portugal
For the Postcrossing administration, Ana and Paulo
I have a suggestion for a new poll, but I don't know if it will please the members and the administration. I would like to know people's opinions about the postal services in their countries.
I am curious about this because I have not yet realized if the problem with the delays is from the postal services of my country or from the postal services of the countries where I send the postcards...
With friendship, Maria
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meiadeleite, Portugal
Hi @Maria_Castro! Actually, that's not a bad idea for a poll. It'll be interesting to know what kind of reputation post offices have with their customers in the different countries... though, I'm afraid it won't help you take any conclusions about where problems are.
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Eismond, Germany
I wrote my first card at elementary school. In a class, where we learnt about things in daily live, our teacher gave us postcards. We had to write down our home addresses and draw a nice picture. Then we went all together to the post office bought stamps and posted the cards. Mine arrived one day later, but without a postmark. So I put it again in the postbox... Not quite the way, it was supposed to be, but the next time it arrived, it had it's postmark. *lol*
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iphoto, Australia
I’ve been thinking about how many Postcrossers do it for the postcards, how many do it for the stamps, how many do it for the sheer pleasure of having their mailboxes happy or is it all of the listed equally!
Myself it’s the total package 💌
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HM, Liechtenstein
Missed this one!

At age 7 I had my first two penpals when I changed school and started corresponding to one of my classmates. We still have summerholiday, birthday and christmascardcontact - for over 45 years now. She lives 1.5 hour drive from me but we did not meet for 40 years.
The other one emigrated to Australia and we did a lot of penpalling. I lost contact and traced her back via letters to previous address that was forwarded several times.

The happiness of a letter in a usualy colourful envelope with my name on it and stamped with the most beautiful stamps still makes me happy.
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gopalsomeshwar, India
postal services in India are very good. We serve through more than 150,000 post offices, which is considered to be the largest network in the world. One of the post office lies at the place called Leh, in Himalaya mountain ranges is on of the high altitude post office.
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