Postcrossing Blog

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

Posts tagged "philately"

Smithsonian National Postal Museum Streetview

Have you ever been to a Postal Museum? If not, well, there’s never been a better time to start — if only from your own home!

We’ve been looking into Google Arts & Culture, and we’ve discovered that you can use it to visit places like the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, in Washington DC, and then hop straight over to the UK’s Postal Museum in London, no air travel needed!

It’s not just that you can walk around these museums via Google’s Streetview, although that’s kind of cool as well. Depending on the museum, there are also “Stories” and collections, showcasing some of the museum’s exhibitions and holdings. For example, the Museum for Communication Frankfurt has an exhibition on the birth of express mail! Check out the sealed watch which the mail-carriers had to take with them, to prove they were delivering the mail on time:

Sealed watch
Pocket watch used on the mail coach service, with lockable case, Museumsstiftung Post und Telekommunikation

In a similar vein to our previous post about the lost letters of the Brienne archive, we found an online exhibition from the Postal Museum in London on 717 letters found aboard a sunken ship, the Gairsoppa! They’ve recovered 19 bundles of undelivered letters from the ship including old Christmas cards! Wonder if there were any postcards on board…

Gairsoppachristmas
Christmas card from the Gairsoppa, The Postal Museum

If you’re interested in stamps, there’s always the Smithsonian’s Women on Stamps exhibitions, or Amelia Earhart’s stamp collection… Or how about a collection of love letters from the Mexican Archivo General de la Nación?

And of course, they have all kinds of other museums — art museums, exhibitions on Mayan graffiti, natural history collections… I think I have to say the Gairsoppa story is my favourite, so far.

Have a look, and if you find other interesting virtual exhibitions that we should check out, let us know in the comments below! 😊

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Some weeks ago, the world celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first humans walking on the moon. Reliving the experience of the Apollo 11 mission was an emotional event all around the world, not just for the millions of people who remember watching the live broadcast on TV with bated breath, but also for the younger generations of dreamers that those astronauts have inspired.

As you can imagine, landing on the Sea of Tranquility is a risky adventure, requiring all sorts of preparations. There’s physical and scientific training to go through, and checklists for all sorts of procedures, but there’s also a more down-to-earth side of things, like life insurance. Can you imagine the price of the insurance for such a perilous and unique mission though? Yup, it’s pretty much astronomical! So how were astronauts supposed to make sure their families were looked after in the event they didn’t make it back to Earth?

When faced with this situation, Apollo 11 astronauts Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong came up with a cunning secret plan: postal covers! Apollo Mission covers

They were famous and their autographs were greatly prized, so they decided to sign dozens of special envelopes in advance, featuring space-themed stamps and motives. These were to be hand-cancelled by friends at the post office on the day that they landed on the moon, and later delivered to their families. In case something happened to them, they hoped these autographed covers could be sold to collectors, in order to give their families some financial security.

Thankfully, they all came back safe and sound from this grand adventure, and didn’t need to use the postal covers as insurance. 😅 But it was still a brilliant plan! And as expected, these special philatelic items became collectibles, and are highly sought after by astrophilatelists, the branch of philately that focus on space-themed stamps. They continued to be made by astronauts until the 16th Apollo mission, and you can discover more of them on this page. Neat! 🌔

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May is here, and it’s time to vote for the best EUROPA stamp of the year!

This year’s EUROPA stamp competition is all about our feathered friends: kingfishers and storks, eagles and cranes, robins and swallows, they all have their place in the philatelic spotlight. Here’s a small selection:

EUROPA stamps 2019

Even if this is a topic that has been covered many times before, there are still some interesting illustrations and colorful sights in this year’s choices. A few of these stamps can even be scanned with an app, so that you can hear the birds chirping away!

Voting is open until September 9th, so go have a look at the all the pretty stamps and cast your vote!

PS – If your country is participating this year, what did you think did of your national bird stamps? And which one did you vote for? 🐦 Let us know in the comments below!

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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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postcrossing moldova2018

Good news from Moldova, the most recent country to issue a Postcrossing-themed stamp!

Isn’t it a cute one? We love how the postcards zoom all around the world, taking a happy Moldovan postcrosser with them.

The stamp was drawn by Lilian Iaţco, and 120,000 stamps have been printed, as well as postcards and first-day covers to mark the occasion. Sadly, we believe these will only be available in local post offices for now, as Moldova Post doesn’t have a philatelic online shop yet.

As is becoming a tradition, a meetup is taking place today to celebrate the launch of the stamp and use the cancellation mark made for the occasion. The event will take place in Chisinau’s Central Post Office, which might be familiar to some from last year’s event that brought together Moldovan and Romanian postcrossers.

We look forward to seeing this new stamp make its way around the world on many future postcards!

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