Postcrossing Blog

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

Posts tagged "postal-services"

A while ago, Anu (aka Gummu) from Bangalore 🇮🇳 surprised us by mailing six postcards to Postcrossing’s PO box, each with a quirky illustration, fun stamps and a piece of a postal story! You see, each postcard had a little chapter of the adventure that was searching for these same postcards in her hometown. We’ll let Anu tell the story, as it was written to us on her postcards: 😊

"Dear team Postcrossing, hello from Bangalore!

July 2019. It has been years since I entered a post office. I’d occasionally send a new year greeting or a birthday card. Signing up for Postcrossing brought back to mind all the post office coordinates around where I live, as did the fact that I hadn’t set foot in the gorgeous old GPO (General Post Office, Govt. of India) building in my city forever. So here’s a story in 6 cards…

A multi-postcard adventure story!

August 2019. The first visit to GPO revealed a philately desk and a shop. There I found this 20-card booklet, Bangalore in the 70s, illustrated by Paul Fernandes, Bangalore-based artist. Each card is an amazing, nostalgic throwback to a city we loved, loved, loved, but have seen slowly disappear over the last three decades. I picked up two booklets, gifted one and used up mine in no time. Went back for more but it was out of stock everywhere!

November 2019. Got a lead from the GPO that they may be available in one Post Office in another area. I head off on a Friday afternoon. At first, the staff said, no sorry, no stock. I get to speak to a junior branch manager, who, after listening to my quest said, “Let me make some calls…”

Subhash, the junior branch manager, made 6 calls over half an hour. Got phone numbers of staff at other branches and finally, tracked down a PO sales exec who had them at an exhibit at the agricultural university, just outside the city. Told me he would be there until 5pm, set me up with the sales exec’s phone number. Thanking Subhash profusely, I set off. If you know Bangalore traffic, you’d start to get nervous bout me ever getting there on time.

I made it to university by 4:45pm and discovered the beauty of the campus, green sprawling, rows of mango trees. Spied the convention hall where the exhibit was happening. Turned out to be an exhibit by uni students on the lives of insects (fascinating!) and located the young sales executive. He had kept aside 20 card booklets for me!

A multi-postcard adventure story!

Happy dance! Learnt from the sales person that India Post is planning to do another run of this card set. I hope they do! They are delighted that Postcrossing is going strong. I’ve spread the joy a bit by sharing the cards with old Bangaloreans, and with postcrossers. So, thank you team, for igniting the love for sending, receiving, reading, writing and connecting with the world.

Love,
  Anu"

Thank you Anu, for sharing your adventure and Paul Fernandes gorgeous postcards with us!

We love the story as much as we love the multi-postcard format — so pleasing! Imagine writing a story like this to a friend or little one, in postcard-sized installments that keep them peeking into the mailbox everyday for more… wouldn’t that be lovely? Pick a story or maybe an adventure you’ve recently lived, an unsuspecting friend and go surprise them with a few postcards! 😊

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Dear postcrossers,

It’s a little crazy out there, so we wanted to take a minute to check on everyone. How are you doing? We hope you and your loved ones are all healthy and staying cozy at home as much as possible. It’s been a weird week around here, mostly worrying about friends and elderly relatives, and trying to keep calm. But, truth be told, it’s also been a week of finding purpose and hope in the little things.

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This is in no small part due to the many postcrossers, who have written in to let us know how much receiving mail is cheering them up while self-isolating. Many of you are staying home with energetic little ones that you’re struggling to keep busy, others just need to feel connected with the world without the anxiety-inducing frenzy of social media. Whatever your situation might be, sending and receiving postcards seems to bring people a small measure of comfort in these troubled times, and we are thankful for that.

Now more than ever, we’re also thankful to the many mail carriers out there keeping people connected. Though most postal services are still working, the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and ensuing flight suspensions have forced many postal operators to divert or cancel some of their mail routes. This is something we’ve always kept an eye on behind the scenes… but lately, this information has been updated so frequently that it was becoming overwhelming to keep an eye on all the mail suspensions, as well as replying to your queries about them. So we created a platform to make this information available to the community, and called it the Postal Monitor.

Postal Monitor

The idea is that we have a dedicated place in Postcrossing that keeps track of all the ongoing mail route suspensions around the world, so that we can add them to the project’s algorithm. This page relies on the excellent work that postcrosser Chie (aka Chieusa) has been doing on the forum for many years now, carefully putting together all this information with the help of reports from the community. So if you know of any updates, please report them on the forum, so that they can be included.

You’ll notice on the Postal Monitor that delivery to China has been re-established in many countries, so Postcrossing is back to giving out addresses in China in the countries that can send mail there.

A few of you have also suggested the implementation of a feature that would allow exchanging postcards with your own country exclusively. This is not an easy feature to implement in Postcrossing, which is designed to be global by definition. We’re giving the idea some thought, and checking whether it would be feasible.

Lastly, let’s take a deep breath, stay calm and find ways to support and be kind to each other throughout this. Remember that we’re all in it together. 🌈

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Coronavirus WHO

I’m sure you’ve all heard about the 2019-nCoV (aka Coronavirus) outbreak in China, since it has been all over the news for the past month. A lot of you have been contacting us with questions about this situation, so we thought a quick post was in order to clarify a couple of points.

First of all, there is no risk of contagion via postcards or mail. Here’s an official response to the question from the World Health Organization:

Q: Is it safe to receive a letter or a package from China?

A: Yes, it is safe. People receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting 2019-nCoV. From previous analysis, we know coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.

This situation has had a heavy impact in the postal world though, with many postal operators having stopped accepting mail to China due to cancelled flights and widespread delays. For this reason, Postcrossing has temporarily stopped giving out Chinese addresses. We will continue monitoring the situation, and when things return to normal, the algorithm will resume giving out Chinese addresses for everyone to send postcards to.

Doing this really saddens us, as we realize this is a difficult period in which Chinese postcrossers most need support. So we hope everyone will join us in the comments below, sending the Chinese Postcrossing community and their families some encouraging thoughts and good wishes. 中国加油!

Since many countries have re-established their mail routes to China, Postcrossing has also started giving out addresses in China again. Keep an eye on your mailbox, Chinese postcrossers! 🇨🇳

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The Little Mail Carriers continue their adventures around the world, and this time they’ve received an invitation they could not refuse… to explore Toronto’s First Post Office! They jumped at the opportunity to discover this historical institution, which is both a museum and a post office and is also regularly visited by the local postcrossers. Kat Akerfeldt is a curator at the museum and kindly offered to show the little ones around.

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

Hi everyone! We’ve just arrived here at Toronto’s First Post Office, but it seems like we came at a very busy time of year! To make us feel right at home, Kat put us to work in the Post Office, sorting mail and making sure that everything went into the correct box.

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

Toronto’s First Post Office is a museum, and looks just as it did in 1833. That was when the city’s first Postmaster, James Scott Howard, built the town’s first brick Post Office. At that time, everyone in Toronto collected their mail from this Post Office – there was no home delivery then. Most letters would be sorted alphabetically until the recipients called for them. Only a few people had their own P.O. box, with a window with a number painted on the glass. These were for Toronto’s early government, business, and religious leaders, for they received the most mail.

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

Today, Toronto’s First Post Office still runs a full-service Post Office, and offers P.O. boxes to rent to members of the Town of York Historical Society. It’s the only postal museum in Canada, and the only Post Office in Toronto to offer a pictorial cancellation mark, so they get a lot of visitors who want to send interesting happy mail — including lots of postcrossers as well! The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

The museum gift shop sells a very interesting selection of vintage stamps. While perusing them, we noticed this small collection of stamps that commemorate Canada’s Confederation. In 1867, representatives from provinces in British North America agreed, after many meetings and conferences, to become a united country, the Dominion of Canada. In 2017, Canada is celebrating 150 years since Confederation! The history was fascinating, so we got into the library to investigate further…

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

… but soon emerged again to find out what all the noisy excitement was about. Turns out, a school group had arrived and wanted to learn to write letters as they did in the 1830s in Toronto. We learned that writing with goose quill pens isn’t always easy, and that blobs will happen! The Postmistress reminded the class to keep a light hand, keep the paper flat on the table, and keep the pen moving!

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

When the letters were dried with pounce (a sand, sprinkled onto the ink, which helps to dry it quickly), the students folded their letters and sealed them with red sealing wax. In the 1830s, you had to pay postage on every piece of paper, so you didn’t waste paper or postage on an envelope! The letter becomes its own cover. Finally, the letters were stamped with a historic cancellation. In the 1830s, Postmaster Howard didn’t like the quality of black ink, so his was the only post office in the province of Upper Canada allowed to use red ink.

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

The date on the cancellation mark is historic in itself! It says “March 6”, which is Toronto’s birthday! March 6, 1834, was the date that Toronto became the first city in Upper Canada. Before 1834, Toronto was known as the Town of York. And before 1793, as early European settlers came to the area, this place on the shores of Lake Ontario was known as Toronto. Toronto is from the native Mohawk language, and was sometimes spelled Taranteau or Tkaronto. In 1793, Upper Canada’s first Lieutenant Governor, John Graves Simcoe, moved the capitol away from the American border to Toronto, renamed the settlement after the Duke of York, and started a lot of development, including creating a map of his new Town – two blocks up and five blocks across. When Simcoe first came to Toronto/York, there were 241 people living here. By 1834, when it became a city, there were 9252 people living here. It had grown very quickly, but it didn’t stop there… Today, Toronto is nearly 3 million people!

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

Later in our visit, we heard some very exciting news: every year, the Town of York Historical Society and Toronto’s First Post Office celebrate becoming a city with a gala celebration! This year marked the city’s 183rd birthday, and the celebration also honoured Canada’s sesquicentennial. A party was held at St. Lawrence Hall, which was built in 1851 as Toronto’s first big concert venue. During its early history, the Hall hosted debates on Canadian Confederation, was a terminus for the Underground Railroad, and the venue for three sold-out performances by Swedish superstar Jenny Lind. In 1967, the Hall was restored, and is now a National Historic Site.

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

On March 6, 2017, the evening included lively music written in 1867 and 1967 (the number 1 song in Canada in 1967 was “The Letter”, which we thought was very appropriate!), rousing speeches on Toronto’s history, and a very popular auction of goods and services from local businesses! Toronto’s First Post Office and St. Lawrence Hall are very close to the St. Lawrence Market, which is full of amazing food artisans, who very kindly supplied all kinds of good things to eat. We especially enjoyed the very Canadian delicacy – and very sticky – butter tarts!

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

What an evening! After all the excitement, we were ready for some relaxation back at the Post Office. We settled in the Reading Room, in front of the fireplace, with our best pens and rubber stamps, to write some letters and postcards to our favourite people. After all, how else would we enjoy a quiet moment?

The Little Mail Carriers in Toronto's First Post Office

Thank you so much Kat and everyone at Toronto’s First Post Office, for taking such good care of the little ones! 😊  Where will they go next?

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Earlier this week, RTÉ (Ireland’s national broadcaster) aired part two of a six-part documentary about the Dublin’s General Post Office. The series, told in weekly episodes, revolves around the iconic building and includes stories from many of the people who use it on a daily basis. Here’s the synopsis:

“Best known as the headquarters of the 1916 Rising, the GPO has been at the heart of Irish life for 200 years. Inside the GPO goes behind the scenes at Ireland’s busiest post office; home to 950 staff, a microcosm of Irish society, and caretaker of letters, parcels, hopes and stories.”

Well… postcrossers do visit post offices rather often, so it’s only natural that a group of enthusiastic Irish postcrossers were picked to be featured on the documentary!

Inside the GPO

Sitting down in a café with their stamps and postcards, Nora (aka ned44440), John (aka jr11577), Claudia (aka chrissybaby) and Kodzos (aka kodzos) braved the cameras and did an excellent job representing the Irish Postcrossing community. Well done guys!

Inside the GPO

You can see the segment (until April 21st) at http://www.rte.ie/player/is/show/inside-the-gpo-30003923/10549881. This is the second part of this series — the first one can be seen here.
If you like it so far, do follow RTÉ's website for the next episodes!

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