Postcrossing Blog

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

Visiting the Basel Dove postboxes

During the summer, British Postcrossing members and old university friends Richard (aka roestimann) and Adam (aka mluc32) met in the city of Basel with a mission: to find all of the six “Basler Dybli” maiboxes!

Why are these mailboxes special, you ask? Well, for one, they’re beautiful! They were designed by Swiss architect Melchior Berri between 1843 and 1844, when Basel re-organised how mail was transported in the city. Upon completion and installation, they were considered the district mailboxes and served as direct connections to the postal network.

Basel Dove stamp

Local postmaster Johannes Bernoulli liked them so much that he requested 10 more to be made — and a stamp as well to commemorate the occasion! The stamp issued in Basel (this was before Switzerland had a unified post office for the whole country and cantons could issue their own postage) was called “Basler Dybli” (or the Basel Dove). The 2½-Rappen (cents) stamp was launched on July 1st, 1845 and featured an embossed white dove on a field of red, carrying a letter in its beak.

Although the stamp wasn’t very popular at the time, years later it became a prized symbol of Swiss philately for its classical beauty, but also for being the first stamp ever on several different categories… Can you guess which ones before having a peek? 🕊

Visiting the Basel Dove postboxes

Amazingly, almost 175 years later, these beautiful mailboxes featuring the same dove motive are still in use! Richard and Adam located all six of them, mailed some postcards from them and took some photographs to document their outing in Basel.

If you’re ever in Basel and are curious to follow their footsteps to discover these special mailboxes, you can find them at: Spalentor, St. Alban Vorstadt, Münsterplatz, Schneidergasse, Lindenberg (Kleinbasel) and at the old chambers in Riehen, which is a little outside the city.

What a brilliant postal adventure! Thank you Richard and Adam for taking us along on your trip around Basel to learn some interesting facts about the postal history of Switzerland!

Visiting the Basel Dove postboxes
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The writing prompts are an ongoing experiment that invites 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!

December is here, the winter theme is up and we’re in a festive mood… hence this month’s prompt:

In December, write about a holiday celebrated in your country.
Write write write!

Sounds easy enough, right? And as luck would have it, yesterday was actually a national holiday in Portugal: we celebrated the 378th anniversary of the Restoration of Independence. Back in the 16th century, Portuguese King Sebastian mysteriously disappeared in a battle in Morocco. He was young and didn’t have any children, so a succession crisis ensued and in the aftermath of it, the Spanish crown ruled Portugal for 60 years. They were overthrown by a revolution that took place on December 1st 1640, in which the Portuguese independence was restored.

How do we celebrate this day? Naturally, there are some official commemorations taking place in the capital… but in my household, December 1st was celebrated as “the earliest day in which it is acceptable to make the Christmas tree”, according to my parents. So we were always busy doing that!

So now you know a bit more about the history of Portugal (and my home)! What holidays are special to your country that you could write about in your postcards this month?

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December is just around the corner, and if you’ve been around for the past few years, you probably know what that means… but just in case you don’t: dear postcrossers, it’s our honor to announce together with Deutsche Post the 6th edition of the Cards for Literacy campaign! 🎉

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, all you have to do is send postcards like always, as many as you can! If your December postcards are registered before the end of February 2019, you will be contributing to this cause and entering a draw to win some cool postal prizes.

And although only postcards sent from Germany count, don’t forget that there’s always a receiver in every postcard exchange — so each time a card from Germany is registered, the recipient will be indirectly contributing to this donation too.

Oh! Did we mention there are prizes? 😍 Yup, we have a bounty of custom-made stamps and cool messenger bags to give away to seven randomly selected postcrossers (residents in Germany only). So by sending postcards in December, you’re helping a good cause, and could win one of these:

Brilliant! As usual, Paulo will run his random number generator next March and we’ll reveal the total count of postcards sent (and money raised to Stiftung Lesen) here in the blog. Last year, a grand total of €8,685.80 was raised for this good cause!

Stiftung Lesen

Stiftung 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.

So… what are you waiting for? If you’re in Germany, get your postcards and stamps ready for December! The more cards you send, the more you’ll be helping this good cause!

Old German postbox

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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We’ve written about postcards and weddings on the blog before (here or here), but these sweet stories keep showing up on our inbox, so we thought it was time for a new roundup of these happy moments.

The first story comes from Portugal! When Teresa (aka Tenar) learned that her close friends were going to get married, she invited the Postcrossing community to surprise them with messages from around the world. She enlisted the help of her friend Sofia (aka suphiia), and together they collected over 100 postcards and even little gifts and drawings which were offered to the bride and groom on their wedding day. Everyone was moved by the kind wishes and the thoughtfulness was put into this wonderful gift.

Postcards and weddings

Zijie (aka zijie) from China and Karsten (aka dagonno) from Germany) met through Postcrossing back March 2014, exchanged some postcards back and forth… and the rest is history, as they say! They got married in July this year in Denmark, and sent a few postcards from there to mark their special day. Karsten’s sister even designed a big round postcard for the occasion too, which was signed by all the guests — a very nice souvenir!

Postcards and weddings Postcards and weddings

And the last story comes from Albert and Cassey (aka albertcass) in Malaysia, who also got married in July this year! In the months prior to their wedding, they collected 160 postcards with messages of all kinds, from lyrics of romantic songs, to Bible verses, to practical marriage advice. The love shown by fellow Postcrossers was just immense so the couple, as promised, displayed the cards during their wedding which also featured postcards as the main theme. Here’s how it looked:

Postcards and weddings Postcards and weddings

Awww… so many sweet displays of love and generosity. Congratulations to all the newlyweds, and thank you for sharing your special days with us! We love to hear all the creative ways in which postcrossers use their postcards, and how they’re included in your special days, so please keep sending them our way. And now if you’ll excuse me, I think I have something in my eye… 😭

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You know how sometimes you’re in a town where it seems like there’s a pillar box in every corner, and in other places they’re simply nowhere to be found? Different postal operators have different policies about their post boxes coverage, and so we thought it would be interesting to find out how far the average postcrosser has to walk (or drive!) to mail their cards.

A total of 9928 postcrossers answered our poll last week, and here are the combined results of that informal survey:

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Overall, looks like most of us don’t have to go that far to mail our postcards, which is great news! Just over 50% of postcrossers walk just 500 meters (or 547 yards) or less to post something, and the farthest category (5 km-3.1 miles or more) is the one with the least amount of postcrossers (7.8%).

Naturally, the really interesting data is at the country level. Let’s have a closer look:

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So, looking at the graph, a few countries seem to do things a little differently. For instance, Malaysia and Indonesia definitely stand out, with about a quarter of postcrossers having to go 5km (3.1 miles) or more until they find a mailbox, followed by Brazil with 19.12% of postcrossers in that category. Indonesia and Brazil are both huge countries, so we understand that it might be hard to cover that much area with mailboxes or post offices… but Malaysia is harder to explain. 🤔 Any thoughts?

On the other end of the spectrum, postcrossers in Hong Kong and Canada walk the least to get to their mail collection points: between 38–39% of them only has to go a few steps from their home to get it done. That’s brilliant! Japan and Switzerland are also doing very well in this regard, with over 75% having to walk just under 500m (547 yards) to get their mail going.

Knowing that in the US mail carriers pick up the outgoing mail from mailboxes when delivering mail, we were a bit surprised to find out that these statistics don’t seem to reflect this ultra-convenient service. Is this not a generalized service, perhaps?

So, what do you think? Do you get enough exercise out of mailing your postcards, or do you wish it was slightly farther away so that you could hatch some Pokémon eggs with those extra steps? 😅 Feel free to chime in on the comments below!

PS – As usual, only countries with more than 50 votes are included, so that the results can be more meaningful.

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