Postcrossing Blog

Stories about the Postcrossing community and the postal world


It’s not everyday one gets an invitation to learn more about the history of printing presses and how they work… so when the invitation came, the Little Mail Carriers jumped into their envelope and made their way to the north of Germany, where the newly revamped Museumsdruckerei Hoya (Hoya’s Printing Museum) is re-opening today! Here they are, to tell you all about what you can discover inside.

Being Mail Carriers, we hold many paper goods in our hands every day. These are letters and postcards in various sizes and colors with all kinds of stamps on them – lots of printed and written paper. Like thousands of postcrossers in the world, we are fascinated by stationery, paper and other printed matters. So are our hosts Claas (aka Speicher3) and Christine (aka Reisegern), who have shown us today how the printed letters and images have been applied to paper since ages.

They invited us to come with them to Hoya, a small town on the river Weser in Northern Germany.

The Little Mail Carriers look onto the Hoya bridge

Once we arrive in the letterpress printing office Museumsdruckerei Hoya, we are welcomed by Michael Linke, who built up an amazing collection of printing presses and types over thirty years.

Overview of the museum, showing lots of printing presses and wooden drawers Rows of wooden chests of drawers, filled with letterpress letters

Right at the entrance of the museum, we spot a figurine on a wooden construction. Michael, who’s that?

There are two images: on the left, Michael is standing by a desk, laughing. A poster lies on the table. On the right, there's a mini statue of Gutenberg, and the Little Mail Carriers are standing next to it.

“That’s Johannes Gutenberg, Michael explains. “The figurine is placed on a reproduction of the Gutenberg printing press. Gutenberg is known as the inventor of modern printing.” While we drink some coffee and eat butterkuchen, a typical northern German cake, Michael tells us about the history of printing:

"Already several thousand years ago, simple printed (stamped) seals were used in Egypt and Mesopotamia. More progressive printing technologies were developed in China more than a thousand years ago. For printing books, in the beginning whole pages were carved into wooden blocks, later on moveable letters were invented. That made printing much easier, though for printing something in Chinese, a lot of different characters were needed.

“In Europe, books were mainly multiplied in monasteries by copyists — all handwritten. Until at the end of the Middle Ages, in the 15th century, Johannes Gutenberg triggered a gigantic media revolution. He used moveable letters made from new materials, found a new ink recipe and invented a special printing press. He combined known printing technologies and his inventions to an efficient printing system. This allowed inexpensive, high-quality mass media production for the first time. The Gutenberg printing system spread across Europe and the whole world.”

But what are moveable letters? Michael encourages us to explore the printing workshop, where we find an aisle full of drawers.

A set of three images filled with letter

Opening them, we discover an overwhelming amount of moveable letters in different sizes and fonts. Yay, let’s take some of them and build a word! It’s a bit complicated, as all those letters are mirrored.

The Little Mail Carriers spell out the word Postcrossing in reverse on a tray, using moveable type.

Michael lets us know: “Before the invention of digital printing, all printed texts were composed by typesetters. They put every single character of the texts line by line into composing sticks, which were then transferred to the printing press.” Wow, what an effort! Can you imagine how many types a typesetter has to handle for a daily newspaper?

In another drawer we find images that look like rubber stamps, but they are made of metal instead of rubber, some very old ones even are woodcuts.

The Little Mail Carriers stand in a drawer, surrounded with old wooden stamps, that can be printed

Let’s take some and see what they look like when they are printed! We’ll combine them with the text we composed in the composing stick. For our first printing experiments, we use a very simple printing press. We put our design in there, add printing ink, lay a sheet of paper on top, close the lid and press firmly.

Images of the printing process: adding ink and lifting the paper after printing Several papers with images printed in the letter press machine. One paper reads Postkarte and Postcrossing, and has two postal horns

That’s fun! Look, the images at the bottom of the page seem to be postal stamps. Michael, would that be possible? Michael explains: “Of course. Stamps were also printed with so-called printing clichés (that’s the name of those images).”

Does this mean, we could print our own stamps in this printing workshop? 🤔 “Good idea!”, Michael says, “We can print your personal stamps here. Did you iron your uniforms? I’ll take a photo of you.” With those photos, a metal cliché is being produced.

The Little Mail Carriers stand in front of the steel plate (cliché) that was made with their photos. The plate show the images and text in reverse

We are so excited! The cliché is fixed in a big printing press. Now we have to work very accurately, because if the height of the image is off by even a tenth of a millimeter, it can make a difference that’s visible in the quality of the print.

The Little Mail Carriers put their plate in the machine securely in place

Can we now print? “I think you forgot something”, says Michael. “You need to grab some printing ink.”

A close-up photo of two tubes of ink, with other ink tubs in the background The Little Mail Carriers stand on top of several tubs of dark ink. The ink is black and looks very sticky

Oh gosh, that’s some thick, sticky stuff. Michael smirks and shows us his totally paint-smeared work coat. “Indeed. If you get that onto your uniform, you won’t be able to remove the stains ever again.”

For this printing press, we don’t need to hand-ink the composition. Instead, we put the ink onto the rollers of the printing press and can print our stamps. Oh, they are wonderful, aren’t they? While the ink is drying, we have some snack and listen to Michael, who tells us more about printing history.

The finished print is shown on the letterpress machine, with the Little Mail Carriers standing in front of it

“Gutenberg’s invention initiated meaningful social developments. Through the mass printing of texts, knowledge, information and opinions could suddenly be spread much easier, more widely and without the control of state and church. Just like today with the internet, many more people were able to access knowledge or publish their own texts through the printing press than ever before.”

Enlightening! We never thought about all that.

Our prints are dry now. But something’s missing. Our stamps cannot be taken apart from each other. So more accurate work is needed for perforating our stamps with a vintage perforating machine.

A hand holds a sheet of stamps, which are being perforated in an old machine

Done! Now we can send out postcards with our own decorative stamps in addition to the normal postage.

Nowadays, most printed matters are being produced with offset or laser printing technologies. We enjoyed our visit to the museum printing office with all those fascinating machines, strange sounds and odors.

Michael and the Little Mail Carriers The Little Mail Carriers sit atop a box, itself on top of a drawer with moveable type

Thank you Michael, we love our stamps. What’s next? “Let’s grab some ice cream and enjoy the evening on the banks of the river Weser.” A great suggestion, Michael!

Information: Michael decided to commit his collection to the public, and now the newly founded association Museumsdruckerei Hoya “Zwiebelfisch” is responsible for running the place. Speicher3 and Reisegern are members of the association. The museum’s website (in German) is, and you can also find it on Facebook: Museumsdruckerei Hoya (no login required!).

Our huge thank you to Claas, Christine and Michael, for this fantastic tour and giveaway! The Museum is opening today again after a long break, and we’re excited to see this beautiful collection be shared with the public, so that people can learn from it and make beautiful things. Hurray!

Reisegern and Speicher3 would like to give away five of the stamp sheets* that were printed with the Little Mail Carriers to the readers of the Postcrossing Blog. If you’d like to win one of these, leave a comment below sharing a memory concerning letterpress machines, suggesting what the next thing we should print should be or what we should write about on our website! The giveaway will run for a week, and Paulo’s random number generator will select five winners by this time next Saturday. Good luck!

A sheet of six cinderella stamps with images of the little mail carriers profiles

(*) Please note that these are Cinderella stamps and cannot be used for postage on your outgoing mail.

And the winners of this giveaway, as chosen by Paulo’s random number generator are… joyoustmjp, paicontea, pbjohnny5, kaitmmo and evbirch! Congratulations everyone, thank you for your enthusiastic participation!


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!

This month’s writing prompt is all about your favourite outfit, a prompt suggested by Meliora's on the forum! Whether you prefer style or function, your clothes can say so much about you…

In September, write about your favourite outfit.
Hedgehog print pyjamas

It’s September, so I’m starting to look forward to colder nights after a scorcher of a summer here in the UK. That means it’s time for my favourite pair of pyjamas! Okay, the beginning of September might be a little soon for them… but perhaps by the end of September I’ll be snuggling into them…

I do have some great outfits for lounging around the house, going out, and fancy occasions, of course. But none of them beat out my hedgehog pyjamas, which are slightly fuzzy to the touch, very cosy, and really adorably cute. My wife got them for me the Christmas before last, and I promptly got a couple of extra pairs for when they wear out—I’ve been burned by that before, and greatly miss my rainbow-coloured giraffe pyjamas!

So how about everyone else? Are you joining my pyjama party, or are you too fond of your hiking gear? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget that you can use this as a prompt when writing your postcards this month!


Two stamps announced on the same week… it must be our luckiest week ever! 🎉

The wave of good news continues, and we are pleased to announce the issuing of Germany’s very own Postcrossing-themed stamp, on October 6th! Many German postcrossers already knew this was coming, as the stamp is one of the most eagerly awaited by the community. After working with the German Finance Ministry for several months in its making, today we are happy to finally be able to reveal its image. Here it is:

German Postcrossing stamp 2022. The stamp features the word Postcrossing, surrounded by three illustrated characters in bright colors, each one writing, reading and mailing a postcard. On the right side of the stamp is a vertical matrix code.
Stamp designed by Greta Göttrup, Hamburg. Reproduced with permission. *

We absolutely love it! Designer Greta Gröttrup did a great job of conveying the essence of Postcrossing in a colorful way, that accurately reflects the joy of the project. Once again, the diversity and the different facets of the project are presented, from writing to mailing to receiving.

This stamp will be out on October 6, and a big launch party/meetup is planned for October 7th kindly hosted by Berlin’s Museum of Communications. Paulo and I will be there, and there’s plenty of room at the museum… so everyone is welcome to join us in the celebration of this milestone for the German community! There are special cancellation marks planned for the event, and Deutsche Post will have a little booth on site, to sell stamps and put the first day cancellation marks on them. It’ll be a fun afternoon!

Two special cancellation marks stand around the new German stamp
Stamp designed by Greta Göttrup, Hamburg. Reproduced with permission. *

This Postcrossing stamp was brought about through the efforts of the Postcrossing community, but in particular through the relentless dedication of Ralf (aka Linus58), who wholeheartedly adopted this cause. Back in 2015, Ralf started a campaign on the old forum for a German Postcrossing stamp, in which he invited and encouraged everyone to write a postcard to the Finance Ministry (who is the entity responsible for issuing stamps in Germany) asking for the stamp. Every year since, he renewed the campaign with the same enthusiasm and as a result, the Ministry received thousands of postcards from all over the world in the last decade, asking for a Postcrossing stamp to be created… until last year, when they finally relented and said yes. This stamp is truly a work of love from a dedicated postcrosser, and the many others who supported him and believed in this idea.

Sadly, Ralf is no longer with us, having passed away late last year. We lost a friend and passionate postcrosser, and it makes us sad to know that he did not get to see the stamp that he campaigned for… but his legacy will live on, on all the postcards we will mail with this lovely stamp.

Given how many postcards are sent from Germany every day, we expect everyone in Postcrossing will sooner or later hold a postcard with this stamp in their hands. We look forward to it arriving in thousands of mailboxes everywhere, and we hope you are as excited as we are to see it out and about!

(*) Any reproductions of the stamp (on online or offline media) must be authorized first, and requests can be sent to


Exciting news! Post Luxembourg has been working with Postcrossing to launch a special stamp honoring the project, and today we can finally reveal what it will look like! So, without further ado… Stamp image comprised of several stylized hands of different colors, handling and writing postcards Isn’t that brilliant? Different hands, playfully writing and holding postcards — a perfect visual representation of what Postcrossing is!

The stamp is designed by S. Fisch and will have a print run of 100,000 stamps at Luxembourg’s rate for Europe (so don’t forget to add the extra postage to your postcards, if you use this stamp to mail postcards outside of Europe).

There will also be an accompanying first day cancellation mark and envelope, which can be combined with the stamp and cancellation mark to make a neat First Day Cover. Here’s what they will look like:

Postcrossing FDC envelope. It has a white background, and some stylized hands holding pens and one postcard on the bottom left corner. It features the cancellation mark as well, which has one hand grabbing a postcard, and another writing the same card. Around them in a circle reads Jour d'émission 13.09.2022 1000 Luxembourg

The new Postcrossing-themed Luxembourg stamp will be out on September 13, and you will be able to order it at the Post Luxembourg webshop.

LX cancellationmarkmeetup

A meetup is being organized on Saturday, September 17 to celebrate this stamp, and they’ll even have their own special cancellation mark for the meeting, available at a booth on Aldringen’s post office between 1pm and 5pm — how cool is that?!

We’re really looking forward to seeing this stamp make its way across the world on many postcards — let us know what you think of it in the comments below!


Aaaaaand we have a winner! 🎉

Over the past couple of months, 174 designs were submitted to the World Postcard Day design contest and so the job of choosing just one was once more a tough challenge. They were so many great entries!

This year, the team of judges was composed of us at Postcrossing, Frank Roche from The Postcardist Podcast, Graham Beck from Exploring Stamps, Perrine Bisson from the Musée de La Poste and Will Hansen, curator of Americana at the Newberry Library (who are the custodians of the Curt Teich Postcard Archives). This stellar team took the time to enjoy and ponder all the designs, and after much admiring and careful consideration, a winner has emerged.

So, without further ado, let me introduce to you the postcard that will represent the 2022 edition of the World Postcard Day! It was created by French animation student and postcrosser Pauline Chrétien (aka paulinectart):

A group of white doves with postcards on their beaks is flying around, delivering postcards to several different mailboxes. Overhead is written World Postcard Day 2022.

Here is what she wrote about this lovely design:

Postcards can deliver a little bit of hope and kindness to people who need it, and to show our support to every victim of conflict on earth.
That is why I chose to represent world peace through postcards, delivered by doves, this bird that symbolizes peace around the world.

Congratulations Pauline! We love the style and the message it conveys — of peace being delivered to all these different mailboxes!

If you’d like to print this postcard on your local printing shop or through an online service (like Vistaprint or Moo), the files are available for download on the World Postcard Day page. If you use it or receive it, we encourage you to share it online with the hashtag #WorldPostcardDay on your favorite social media platform! We’d love to see how far and wide this lovely postcard travels, and especially look forward to seeing pictures of it next to different mailboxes around the world! 📮

Now is the time to make plans for October 1st, to celebrate this special day! There are some events already on the calendar and more will be announced in the coming weeks, but you can choose how you participate and make something unique. It can be as simple and as nice as sending postcards to family, friends, co-workers, inspiring teachers or neighbors! But you can also choose to use postcards in a classroom if you’re an educator, help your young family members send their first postcards, or help your local library or museum do something special to mark the day… Check out this page for some tips! And don’t forget to share your plans with us in the comments below or on this forum topic, so we can spread the word and inspire each other.

And naturally, the World Postcard Day badge will be awarded once more to those who send at least one postcard in Postcrossing on October 1st. Make sure to save some slots until then, so you can request a few postcards on the day and earn the special badge once more!