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Blog > Kosmopolit, part 3: museum, meetups, and postcards


Welcome to the last part on this series about Kosmopolit, a “kind of steampunkish 19–20th century Postcrossing sister”, as Claas (aka Speicher3) describes it. He and Christine (aka Reisegern) found a great book by Claus-Torsten Schmidt on the topic, and have been slowly entertaining us with the story of this fascinating association. You can catch up previous posts here, and read on for more juicy details!

While reading the book, I couldn’t resist buying a few Kosmopolit postcards on Ebay. One of them, sent in 1902, is not directly related to the association itself. However, this postcard was published by the publishing house of Kosmopolit founder Fritz Schardt, and the verse on the card is written by Fritz Seemann, who was the secretary of the Kosmopolit when it was founded.

An old postcard featuring a sail boat, with words scribbled around the border in the front, and just an address and stamps on the back

Another one is from 1912. There are several postcards sent by Carl Gerner from Cologne to Louis de Clei in Belgium. This shows that the members not only wrote single cards to each other, but sometimes stayed in contact for longer periods of time. On many of these cards you can see that the stamp was fixed on the postcard’s image side. That seemed to be quite popular. On the reverse side, where the stamp would be located, there is a note: “Stamp overleaf”.

An old postcard featuring gentlemen in a park. The stamp is in the image side of the postcard. The back has the member rubber stamp, the address and a note where the stamp should be, letting the mail carrier know to check the other side for it.

And there’s another similarity to Postcrossing: Some members wrote their postcards completely full and were interested in communication. Others just wanted to add cards to their postcard collection and just added their stamp or a short note. Mr Gerner apparently belonged in the category “Hello, I’m Carl. Happy Kosmopolit!”

Here’s a 1910 postcard from a Kosmopolit member in the United States:

An old American postcard, featuring an Indian tribe by the water. Some are in a canoe, and some are standing in the shore, by a tent. The back of the postcard features the sender's rubber stamp, a postage stamp and the recipient's address

In 1911 Kosmopolit sold a number of different donation stamps to its members. These stamps were used to collect money for building the first picture postcard museum in Nuremberg. The plans for the museum were later on foiled by World War I. The donation stamps had different pictures and colours and were titled with “Buillding stone for the Kosmopolit house”.

Sheet with 9 black and white mini-images, each featuring a small engraving and the words 'Baustein für das Kosmopolit-Heim (Building block for the Kosmopolit-House)'. These were intended to be sold as fund raisers to a Kosmopolit museum

Do you remember when the first Postcrossing meetup was held and when the first meetup card was sent? It is fascinating that much of what we do today has been done in a very similar form 100 years ago. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Kosmopolit congresses were organized regularly, where members met to get to know each other and to show themselves their postcard collections. This is what we’d call a Postcrossing meetup today. And not only that. There were even meetup cards! In the book is a postcard from a 1923 Kosmopolit congress, which was signed by a number of congress participants!

Just as thousands of Postcrossing meetup cards were signed and sent out today, Kosmopolit meetup cards were signed about a hundred years ago. The most eye-catching difference: no washi tape in 1923.

Here is one of the oldest meetup cards we know so far:

A black and white reproduction of a postcard with a Kosmopolit themed design on the front and lots of scribbled signatures on the back

They also organized some postcard exhibitions over the years, with fancy posters and stamps:

Kosmopolit exhibition poster and stamp. The poster is green and features the text ''Worldwide Association Kosmopolit — Postcard exhibition, Fürth, 10 November 1912' It has design in the center with a coat of arms, a crown and the Kosmopolit logo. The stamp is coloured, and features an angel on a horse, playing a horn. The text on it mentions a postcard exhibition in München, in 1913.

The 1920s were an unstable period with many changes in Germany. Political upheavals, coups, hyperinflation and the founding of the extreme right-winged party NSDAP, which later led into the “Third Reich” and the World War II. These turbulent times also influenced the Kosmopolit. It is not known exactly how long the association existed. In 1925 the association was officially moved from Nuremberg to Dinkelsbühl. The author of the book could not find any files on this in Dinkelsbühl, and in 1927 the file on the “Weltverband Kosmopolit” was officially closed by Nuremberg authorities.

One can still find postcards from the 1930s that carries the Kosmopolit members’ stamps… however, this is probably only a private use of the stamps.

Fun fact: The German Wikipedia article about Kosmopolit even compares the association with today’s Postcrossing!

And this is the last post we have for you on this fascinating association! Thank you so much to Claas and Christine for all your work on this topic, and for digging deep into postcard history for us. We’re still amazed at how many parallels there are between Postcrossing and Kosmopolit, from meetups to profiles or “signature rubber stamps”… Who could have guessed that history would repeat itself so thoroughly 100 years later! 😊

30 comments so far

Mosshumla, Sweden
No washi tape :D !
Thanks for the highly interesting series of blog posts!
Krukel, Netherlands
Thanks for the blog!!
rdquintas, Portugal
Thank you for sharing this post. Really enjoyed reading it. :o)
MrsPaull, United States of America
Wonderful blog post! The history and images are fascinating. Thank you!
parkeraj, United States of America
Thank you so much for sharing! This was awesome!!
peesnpikuhlzz, United States of America
This was lots of fun to read about, thanks for sharing! 😘
sallyanne, United States of America
That is SO COOL! Thanks for sharing.
Indreni, United States of America
This is so unbelievably cool!
Calialf, United States of America
Great series. Love the aesthetic and the stories. Thank you.
reiselustig, Germany
This was a really wonderful serie - very interesting! Thank you so much Christine and Claas for your effort!
I just wondered if the author of the book is available for contact - wouldn't it be great to reprint one of these old Kosmopolit images as a postcard to use it for our postcrossing hobby today!? I would love to receive such a card :-)
Johannette1967, Germany
I followed the story with great enthusiasm. Fascinating, really... More of this! Thank you. 🙂
Nonnie, United States of America
So fascinating!
Circumstances prevented me from participating in Postcrossing for quite a while. So if you believe in the help praying can do, please say a little prayer that I can come back to it.
Waldo, United Kingdom
I like that International is abbreviated to Internat. And that 100 years ago an online response, a quick acknowledgement, or as mine become often, a screed, would have been very welcome. I like this old and modern mix in Postcrossing. Thank you for the enlightenment.
HookedonPostcards, Canada
Thank you very much for sharing these regular feature articles. So interesting and intriguing and inspiring! Love history!
Robin67, Austria
Absolutely super-interesting! <3
Axolotl_, Germany
"no washi tape in 1923" - well, almost seems like that was the only difference! :D It's so cool to know that there was an organization like ours such a long time ago..
Makibo, Japan
I am amazed at how many similarities there are. Thanks for all the surprises!!
And the two postcards have been sent as "printed matter", not as postcards. Maybe it's a coincidence, but the lack of a personal message might possibly have something to do with the rules for printed matter.
CindyMc, United States of America
This is so interesting! Thank you!
Makibo, Japan
Self reply. In the old days, there was a rule that postcards can be sent cheaply as printed matter if the message is 5 words or less.
Flippie, Canada
Thank you for sharing, Meiadeleite.
NCS, United Kingdom
It goes to show that there is nothing new that the generations before have not already explored. I guess we should learn from them. If that be from what to continue to do or what not to do. History doesn’t repeat per se but it does rhyme. It is up to us to hear the knell, listen and learn.
Demmi, Romania
KUDOS for the blog dear community and their contributors! 👍 Keep up the good work! Happy Postcrossing & Happy Readings!
xoxo :D :)
Crumblycake, United Kingdom
It's always great to find a real connection with the past, when you read about people who could have been friends
Sandristica, Spain
Really interesting... even without washitape :D
Pipster, Spain
Facinating , thank you 😊
Linlin39, Russia
Спасибо,очень интересно))
mysweetlife63, United States of America
I really enjoyed these posts on the Kosmopolit. Thank you for bringing them to us!
madi322, Russia
ipuenktchen, Iran
this article is really great, a huge thank you to speicher3 and reisegern!!!!
it's so interesting that ppl 100 years ago had the same hobby and same ideas about, like printing their own cards, like held up meetings and sent meeting cards with all the participents signature!! unbelievable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Kewl, Philippines
This is a lovely write up series. Thank you. The signing on the back of the postcard during meet up reminds me of how my Dad, in the 1950s, would have their class picture signed by everyone on the back part. I did the same when I was in school myself.

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