Postcrossing Blog

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

Posts tagged "mail-carriers"

Continuing on their tour of the world, last year the Little Mail Carriers visited Terceira, a tiny Portuguese island in the archipelago of Azores. They were warmly welcomed by the local postcrossers, and discovered a land of mystery and delights, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. We’ll let them tell you all about it!

Olá everyone! We tagged along big Paulo and Ana to attend a Postcrossing meetup in the Terceira island, in the Azores. Can you spot it on a map? It’s a luscious archipelago made of 9 volcanic islands, halfway between Portugal and the USA. Terceira (aka, the “third”) was so named because it was the third island to be discovered by the Portuguese.

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To kick off the meeting, we were received by Angra do Heroísmo’s mayor, who generously took the time to introduce us to the history of the island and its many stories, both historical and geological. Angra is after all a UNESCO Heritage site, for being an obligatory port of call of the fleets that crossed the Atlantic in the 15th century, and also a testimony to the maritime exploration that allowed exchanges between the world’s great civilizations of the time.

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We admired downtown’s architecture, and even met Vasco da Gama, an important Portuguese explorer, who first sailed the sea route from Portugal to India. On the way back from his first voyage there in 1499, his brother got sick and eventually died in Terceira, where the fleet stopped for some time to grieve and recover.

vascodagama

From the geological point of view, the Azores are a very interesting place as they’ve got 26 active volcanoes (8 of which are underwater)! The islands straddle the mid-Atlantic ridge, with 2 of them being on the North American Plate. We could see a lot of evidence of this volcanic origin all around us, on the dark rocks that have been used for centuries in walls and even mailboxes!

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We had the adventure of a lifetime when we visited Algar do Carvão, the chimney of a very old volcano — now without lava, of course. Have you ever been inside a volcano? It’s magical!

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Volcanic signs are everywhere in Terceira: from sea pools made of cooled lava to sulfur vents that still send off their stinky gases today! One of the most curious uses for the volcanic rocks is to grow wine. The vines are planted among basaltic rocks, protected from the winds by low rock walls. Basalt heats up in the sun and slowly dissipates its heat, sweetening the grapes and giving them a unique terroir.

volcanic

After learning some geology, we visited a couple of big churches (rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 1980) and learned about the islands devotion to the Holy Spirit. On the right of the photo below you can see a “Império” (or “Empire”), which are colorful mini-houses used as central points for the festivities of the Holy Spirit.

imperios

There are dozens of such Impérios in Terceira, all uniquely decorated. During the Pentecost period, children are made “emperor” for a week with great pomp and circumstance. The processions and banquets involved in the celebrations bring the local communities together and are a treasured part of the island’s heritage.

After touring Terceira, it was time to get together with the local postcrossers to write some postcards to all our friends. The locals were friendly and well-organized, and they put together a wonderful meeting, featuring lots of laughter and the local D. Amélias pastries which everyone loved!

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Lots of enthusiastic postcrossers (both from the continent and the islands) attended the meeting, and there was even a special postcard designed by a local artist, as well as a special postmark dedicated to Postcrossing to celebrate the occasion!

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We had a great time in Terceira, and are eternally grateful for the hospitality of the friendly postcrossers there! Hopefully we’ll be back soon to explore more of the beautiful Azores archipelago…

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Earlier this year, we noticed a curious link on Terry’s (aka Terry5) profile… which triggered a few enthusiastic email exchanges, and eventually ended with the Little Mail Carriers jumping onto an envelope headed to Ohio to check out a very special place. Come discover the Postmark Collectors Club, and their wonderful museum!

The Little Mail Carriers at the National Postmark Museum

Hi everyone! We traveled to the center of the USA to visit the National Postmark Museum, the premiere collection of the Postmark Collectors Club. Yes! There is a whole club devoted to the collecting, studying and enjoying the trusted postmark! The Club has been around since 1946 and a few years later some of the Club members formed a group collection of postmarks. When the collection began to grow, they actually put it into an old School Bus!

The Little Mail Carriers at the National Postmark Museum

The club’s membership comes from all across the USA and many other countries. Each year they hold an annual convention somewhere around the USA, getting together to share postmarks, stories and good wishes. The Museum has continued to grow and preserve material important to the field of postmarks and postal history. The Museum has been in a few homes along the way typically moving to larger spaces to house the holdings. Then it moved to Bellevue, Ohio, USA, into the Historic Lyme Village, where it has been since 1978.

The Little Mail Carriers at the National Postmark Museum

One of the largest single holdings is the Willett-Thompson Collection, and today it is held in more than 300 blue binders.

The Little Mail Carriers at the National Postmark Museum

We checked out many of the special collections including postmarks from Military Camps and Bases. “First Day Cover” with postmarks that were only cancelled on the first day that a new stamp is issued by the Post Office.

The Little Mail Carriers at the National Postmark Museum

There are so many of these in this collection, covering many years. Some of the other special collections here in the Museum include postmarks with slogans, “Pray for Peace” cancels, and individual U.S. state collections. Being mail carriers, we moved over to our favorite part of the museum, a collection of Post Office photographs.

The Little Mail Carriers at the National Postmark Museum

The museum has drawers and drawers holding more than 55,000 pictures of Post Offices including new and old ones, from around the USA and around the World. They have thousands more pictures in their on-line internet collection.

The Little Mail Carriers at the National Postmark Museum

Another cool stop on our journey was the assortment of memorabilia and artifacts from Post Offices, hand stamps, canceling devices, sorting windows, mailboxes… and even some model mail trucks! All of these tools helped move the mail. There is certainly a passion here for collecting and showing mail and postcards, especially those with interesting postmarks. Each letter and postcard has a story to tell and the cancel helps telling that story!

The Little Mail Carriers at the National Postmark Museum

PS – Thank you very much Terry and Ron for these wonderful photos and report! They were a nice distraction from the nail-biting wait for postcard number 50 million to be registered…

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As promised, here are the Little Mail Carriers to tell us all about their exciting visit to the Museum for Communication, in Berlin.

Hallo zusammen! We arrived at the museum in the early morning with lots of letters to deliver.

Museum for Communication building, in Berlin

After almost being run over by one of their cool robots, we started exploring the exhibitions. While we were marveling at the variety of mail boxes, we met Stefan, who was very happy to receive a letter from us. Did you spot him in the movie in our previous post?

The Little Mail Carriers meet Stefan

We also found a large collection of stamps in the exhibition and in the basement they have a “tableau” of some of the most well-known and rarest letters and stamps, including the über famous Mauritius blue!

The Mauritius Blue stamp

They are displayed alongside lots of other treasures from the history of communication, which is why they call it the “writing chamber”.

The Writing Chamber

We also learned a lot about postcards. In Germany, postcards, as we know them today, were officially approved in 1905, prior to that the address was written on one side and the text on the other (starting in 1870). Images were introduced early on before becoming one of the main features of postcards.

Our favorite part was a cool installation of a mail pneumatic tube! We embarked on a journey through the tubes to deliver a letter to Anne, which you can see in our video. The distance on the museum’s pneumatic tube installation is only 30 metres (about 100 feet), but the total length of the pneumatic tube system in Berlin in 1940 measured 400 kilometres (or 250 miles) — 1,333 times longer!

Researching in the library

Afterwards, we paid a visit to the museum’s library. It’s an important part of the museum, as it contains many sources on the history of communication, namely postal service and telecommunication. Researchers and museum staff use the resources for projects and new exhibitions. Here we met Florian, who was happy to help us write a short greeting into our travel journal and guided us behind the scenes to tell us about the large part of the collection that is not displayed in the exhibitions.

Mailboxes in storage

Together with the Museum for Communication Frankfurt, the Museum for Communication Nürnberg and the Archive for Philately Bonn, the Museum for Communication in Berlin forms a foundation with a large collection that is housed in two major storage spaces and the archive for philately. One of the storages is in Berlin, the other one in Frankfurt am Main. Thus, we went to the collections in Berlin-Tempelhof, where we found a great variety of objects and met more friendly museum staff members.

Pneumatic post Scales in storage

Among the objects were additional mail boxes, historic pneumatic tubes, post house signs and lots of photographs and postcards. We also made new friends with workers active in the miniature models of postal facilities such as a parcel sorting center and couldn’t resist the bus ride in a model of an old post bus! The original vehicles are located in Frankfurt am Main.

 Miniature post bus

The collection also stores a large number of letters sent by and to soldiers during different wars (e.g. WWI and WWII), letters that were exchanged between East and West Germany between 1949 and 1990 and letters between friends and lovers. We learned a lot about the postal system as well as the stories behind the letters — and you can too, as it is possible to research a lot of these letters online at www.briefsammlungen.de.

Goodbye Berlin!

Full of impressions, we delivered our last letters and hopped into the museum’s mailbox to continue our journey Tschüß Berlin!

A big thank you to Anne-Sophie Gutsche, Stefan Jahrling and Johannes Lindenlaub from the Museum for Communication for agreeing to host the little guys, writing and taking all these photos! 😊 On they go on their next adventure…

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Wherever you are, we hope you’re having a brilliant day, filled with postcards and postal celebrations. Our list of events for 2018 grew a bit in the last couple of days, so do check it out! 📯

Earlier this year, our Little Mail Carriers were in Berlin to visit the Museum für Kommunikation and deliver some mail. We’ll tell you all about their trip on an upcoming post, but for now, here’s a sweet preview of that adventure:

Neat, right? If you’re curious to see more of Berlin’s Museum for Communication, stay tuned to the blog — the Little Mail Carriers will tell you all about it later this week.

By the way, many countries have a postal, communications or philatelic museum… so you haven’t visited yours yet, this could be a great activity for the week. Happy World Post Day, everyone!

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After their stay in London, the Little Mail Carriers did a detour to the beautiful island of Guernsey, to have a rest from the hustle and bustle of the city. Denise (aka Tranchile) was their host for the stay, and had fun showing them around, despite the windy days that coincided with their visit.

Hello from Guernsey! 👋 We’re so glad to be here with our host Denise, who promised to give us the tour of the island where she lives. Shall we get started?

Little Chapel in Guernsey

One of highlights of Guernsey is this tiny chapel (appropriately called “Little Chapel”), built by Brother Déodat in July 1914. It is meant to be a miniature version of the grotto and basilica in Lourdes, France and is covered in pebbles, shells and broken colorful china. Now and then, volunteers repair the damage done by the weather over the years… Denise even remembers donating a broken cereal bowl of hers for repairs, when she was a child!

Cobo Beach

This is Cobo Beach, one of twenty eight beaches in Guernsey! There’s is a chip shop by the sea wall, and we saw some locals eating fish and chips from a bag there while watching the waves. Denise tells us that a film screen is put on the beach at low tide during summer, and the hotel opposite has a balcony and there is a big rocks concert played from there whilst people sit on the beach and listen to it… Sounds wonderful!

Looking at the Bailiwick's islands

We were hoping to visit one of the other Islands that come under the Bailiwick of Guernsey, but during our stay it was unusually windy and the ferries were cancelled. :( We had to hold onto each other whilst looking over the QE11 Marina at three of the islands instead.

From left to right, the first island is Herm, and you can just see the glorious sand there. It’s a quiet place with just one hotel, several cottages to rent and two camp sites. It also has a school for just about six children and the staff who work there. Jethou is the middle island, which is privately leased and not open to the public, and the bigger island on the right is Sark. It has no traffic, but if you are fit you can cycle around the island, or use horse and carts to go around at a more gentle pace.

Castle Cornet

Above you can see Castle Cornet, which was built in the 13th century, to defend the islands from the French. It’s been attacked and captured several times over the years, and finally returned to the islands in 1947 after reconstruction. Today it houses several museums and period gardens, and this half-term the schoolchildren have been dressed as Harry Potter characters and making spell books etc inside the main museum. How fun!

In the summer, a cannon is fired there at noon each day, which Denise tells us can be heard all over the island.

Guernsey's Number 1 Postbox

This is something we were looking forward to see: Guernsey’s Number 1 Postbox! It is the oldest working postbox in the British Isles and was put there by the Post Office Surveyor Anthony Trollope on 8th February 1853, as an experiment to see how well they would work for collecting mail. He had been impressed with the system of pillar boxes in France, and decided to test them on the Channel Islands. The experiment was so successful that they were later introduced in the UK.

Although the first postbox was red, all the modern ones are a lovely blue color.

Blue Guernsey postbox

The Market Square is a lively place in St. Peter Port, and it was there that we met 2 little friends, next to this curious statue… Can you guess why they made a statue of donkeys? It turns out that people from Guernsey are nicknamed “Guernsey Donkeys”, while those from nearby Jersey are known as “Crapauds” (or toads)!

Market Square and Donkey statues

Since we were just around the corner from it, Denise and our friends took us to see the Town Church, built in 1475. We looked up in awe at its beautiful stained glass windows and ornate pews, where the Liberation service is held every year on May 9th.

Town Church Town Church

Can you spot the gargoyle in the roof below? The white building next to it is a pub, and so this gargoyle is said to make this the closest church to a pub in the British Isles — it’s even in the Guinness, apparently! Maybe we’ll go in and grab something to eat before hopping back into our envelope…

Town Church gargoyle

See you later everyone… or, as they say around here, à la perchoine!

PS – Thank you Denise for showing the Little Mail Carriers around Guernsey! Where will they pop up next…? 🤔

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