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