Postcrossing Blog

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

Posts tagged "netherlands"

This week, we decided to highlight a lovely online exhibition we heard about from postcrosser OrangeSunshine. In 1926, the Dutch Postal Museum in the Hague received a fascinating donation: a trunk of around 2,600 letters from the seventeenth century, some of them still unopened to this day… This obviously got our attention, so we had to take a look!

The piggybank of letters
The Brienne trunk, Sound and Vision, The Hague (CC BY-NC 4.0)

It seems that the trunk was originally owned by the postmaster and postmistress of the Hague at the time, Simon de Brienne and his wife, Marie Germain. Inside of it were all the letters that the post office could not deliver, either because of indecipherable or non-specific addresses, deceased recipients or people that moved… or because the recipient did not want to pay to receive the letter, as was the rule at the time. The chest was called the “piggybank” (spaarpotje), because they hoped to collect the money eventually if the letters were delivered one day!

An undelivered letter
DB-0259, Sound and Vision, The Hague (CC BY-NC 4.0)

The archive has recently been rediscovered and pored over by experts of all kinds, who have been hard at work preserving and digitising the collection, and you can see some of the fruits of their labor in the virtual exhibition!

A folded letter
Opened Letter, DB-2146, Sound and Vision, The Hague (CC BY-NC 4.0)

One of my favourite aspects was learning about letterlocking (discussed more in room 4 of the exhibition). These intricately folded letters were intended to preserve the privacy of the letter-writers against the so-called “Black Chambers”. These where secret workers within the post office who would open, copy and reseal letters in order to spy upon the contents for the government! Other people used codes to write their private letters, making their contents unintelligible if you didn’t know the trick to deciphering them. You’d have to be careful to make sure that the coded nature of the letter wasn’t too obvious, or that would only draw suspicion…

We definitely recommend you take a look at the whole exhibition if you’re interested in this little piece of history. There’s tons of information there about who wrote letters and what they wrote about, and the materials and writing implements they used to do it, providing a fascinating glimpse into another era. If you check out the exhibition, we’d love to hear about what you think! What’s the most interesting thing in the collection from your point of view?

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On a recent Instagram browsing session research expedition, I accidentally stumbled on Amy (aka amyvnwijk)'s colourful account, and was immediately captivated. The stamps, the washi tape, the airmail stickers… Her creations are awe-inspiring, every postcard a miniature piece of art!

I was curious to find out more about her mailings, and luckily, Amy agreed to answer a few questions about it, so we had a mini-interview! Here she is to tell us more about her gorgeous postcards.

Can you tell us a little bit about your decoration process? What inspires you?

I get most of my inspiration from the season we are in or the place where I’m at. I love traditional Dutch images or illustrations, flowers and nature, so I like to incorporate that in my mail as well. Along with lots of bright and happy colors of course! A few examples:

Photo Dutch Mail Photo Holiday   Summer Mail

Dutch and holiday/summer themed mail

Photo Christmas Mail Photo Color Themed Mail

Christmas and color-themed mail

Where do you start?

I start with choosing the stamps. If it’s a certain season or holiday I like to use stamps and tapes complementary to that. If I go for a colored theme I match the colors of the stamps together with a same colored washi tape. I always begin by making a border around the card with the washi tape. Sometimes I use small tape but if the tape is a little wider I cut of the excess with a scissor. Then I stick on the stamps and the priority label. Finally I use rubber stamps. While the ink of the rubber stamp is drying I go to the next card and when everything is decorated I start writing.

Which materials do you use to decorate your postcards?

I mainly use washi tape and rubber stamps to decorate my postcards. My favorites are tapes with floral prints because they are always very cheerful. I also like using rubber stamps — for official Postcrossing cards, I use a Postcard ID-stamp. For writing I use colored gel pens or fine liners. As an extra stamp I like to use an old Dutch “gulden” stamp. They are no longer allowed as postage but I think they are beautiful and a nice decoration to the card.

Amy's Decorated Cards

Some other useful materials are a pair of (small) craft scissors, a ruler and a retractable knife. I try to stay away from glue or really sticky deco tape because it’s easy to stain the card and hard to correct when you make a little mistake. Paper tapes, like washi tape, are a lot easier to remove when you decide to go for something else or need to make an adjustment.

What are the member’s reactions when they receive your postcards? Do they appreciate the extra effort?

I love choosing and decorating cards the best from the whole Postcrossing experience! I enjoy sending happy and colorful mail and when I read on the profile that the receiver likes it as well, I get excited straight away. Sometimes it’s a bit of a gamble if the receiver would appreciate it, but I’ve received a lot of positive feedback on my sent cards so far. A few weeks ago a woman wrote in her hurray message that she would frame my card — that really made my day.

And finally, can you show us the place where the magic happens?

My desk is also my work and laptop table so when the addresses are requested the laptop goes to the side so I have enough room for my craft supplies. I keep everything in basic storage boxes in a cabinet so when the crafting and writing can start I bring everything I need over to my desk.

Amy's desk

Thank you Amy, that was lovely — I’m really inspired to beautify my postcards now!

Do you decorate your postcards too? If so, share your own tips below!

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Welcome to July! To enter our anniversary month on a celebratory note, we’re starting it with a great giveaway sponsored by Natuurlijkefoto.nl — a friendly website that is perfect for postcrossers who love nature! :)

Run by professional photographer Arnold Voordewind, Natuurlijkefoto specialises in nature photos, including animals and landscapes, with special emphasis on the Dutch ones. His photos are stunning, so it’s no surprise that the postcards are such high quality and so sought after!

Natuurlijkefoto is offering 3 sets of postcards to 3 lucky postcrossers! Here is the 3rd prize, with 10 postcards:

Natuurlijkefoto weekend giveaway

The 2nd prize consists of all those postcards above, plus these 10 below…

Natuurlijkefoto weekend giveaway

And last but not least, the huge 1st prize winner will get aaaaaall those postcards above, plus these ones as well:

Natuurlijkefoto weekend giveaway

Fantastic, right? For a chance to win one of these sets of postcards, visit Natuurlijkefoto.nl's website and leave a comment below, telling us which series of postcards is your favourite! From animals to mailboxes, boats to lighthouses, we’re sure there’s something you’ll find exciting there!

Good luck everyone! Check back on this post next saturday for the winners (randomly picked by Paulo’s number generator, like always).

PS – Until July 8th, Natuurlijkefoto is also offering a 20% discount on all orders above €20. Use the discount code “weekendgiveaway” during checkout to claim that offer.

And the winners of this giveaway, as chosen by Paulo’s random number generator are… ioana-iulia (3rd prize), maurin88 (2nd prize) and Katycakes (1st prize)! Congratulations ladies, and thank you everyone who participated. Stay tuned for the next giveaway soon! 😊

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It’s been a while since we’ve had a giveaway here on the blog, so we thought it was time to bring them back! Partnering with us this month is Kaartfanaat, a lovely Dutch postcard shop we’ve featured here on the blog some years ago.

They’re still going strong and have since expanded their range to feature not just great postcards, but also boxed sets, books and other gifts. Lots of series will be familiar to postcrossers, from Fotofolio's black and white cards featuring famous people to Inkognito's humourous ones… there’s something for everyone!

fullKaartfanaat

On this month’s giveaway, they have generously offered to equip 5 lucky postcrossers with sets of 15 postcards of their choice. As a bonus, one of the winners will also be able to pick one item from the Book & Gifts section of their site! :)

To win one of these fantastic prizes, browse Kaartfanaat's website and leave a comment below, telling us which postcard, series or gift item you have your eye on!

Good luck, everyone! Check back on this post around this time next week for the winners, which will be randomly picked by Paulo's number generator, as usual.

PS – For the duration of this giveaway, Kaartfanaat is also offering a 10% discount on all orders from €10 (excl. shipping). Use the code postcard during checkout!

And the winners, as chosen by Paulo’s random number generator are… Psull (15 postcards + gift), guvina (15 postcards) and notmuchcompany (15 postcards)! Congratulations, and thanks everyone for your enthusiastic participation! 😊

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As lovers of all things snail-mail related, we have a soft spot for postcards featuring postal themes. So naturally, when this particular postcard crossed our paths some time ago, it was an instant favourite!

Postcard featuring Ellen's mailbox

Isn’t it a lovely combination? At the time, we hadn’t realised this particular mailbox actually existed and is was being used daily to receive mail… until one day, someone sent us an email to bring it to our attention! That’s when we learned it belongs to Ellen’s (aka Elfje66) and is hanging outside her studio, in the Dutch village of Zweeloo.

Ellen is a paper artist, and we were happy to talk to her a little bit about her unusual mailbox, and her art works.

Where did the inspiration for your mailbox come from?

In the beginning of 2015 I started to join a 'Stamp my Journal’ project. I fell completely under the spell of making stamp-collages. Since my studio is called El’ Papel (as I am an absolute paper-lover even since I was a little child) I thought it would be great to decorate my mailbox with stamps too!

Ellen and her mailbox

El’ is short for my first name: Ellen and the P from Papel is also the first character of my second name: Peeks. When I started designing and my own company I visited Spain frequently, so that was also a reason for choosing this name. Besides that, I found a lot of insertion in the Spanish culture.

Is it visible from the street? Did other people (or your postman!) notice? What did they say?

Yes, it is visible from the street! When it was placed on the wall our mailman at that time didn’t respond at it at all! I was really disappointed! But he was a moody man… Now we have several mailman (man and woman) and they noticed as soon as we took the mailbox from the wall, as it needs to be redone a bit. Unfortunately most stamps aren’t printed with UV resistant ink :-( So some stamps lost a lot of their color.

Atelier El Papel  mailbox Ellen's postwoman
What do you do, apart from creative mailboxes?

I graduated as graphical & typographical designer. But I work mostly as illustrator, designer of birth announcement cards and making merry paper maché objects (mostly fantasy animals). And I like to upcycle used materials. So stamps fit fairly good with this vision.

I have a website and shop, but unfortunately, the text on my website is in Dutch only… but there are a lot of pictures to take a look at! :-)

Here you also can find some of the Postcrossing cards I designed! Of course these are designs with… stamps. ;-)

Ellen's postcard creations Ellen's postcard creations
How did you find out about Postcrossing?

I remember reading about it in the lovely magazine Flow, but forgot all about it. At some point I noticed a dear (post-)friend of mine showed a lot of foreign cards on her Facebook page. I asked her about this and she told and explained me about Postcrossing. She never should have done, as it is quite addictive ;-) In the meantime I join some Dutch Postcrossing groups on Facebook, big fun! We have meetings, what is very convivial. I now have some special post-friends spread across our little country!

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