Postcards are alive and well and received by countless friends, family and complete strangers around the world. Complete strangers? This is where Postcrossing comes into the picture.
I first learned about Postcrossing, a postcard exchange group, from a quarterly Stamp Bulletin and joined free-of-charge. The five-step guidelines are easy to follow, the website makes it simple to set up a profile and tweak your settings. Navigate around and check out the stunning and prolific cards received and uploaded by Postcrossing members. Everyone abides by the rules so things flow smoothly between more than 69,000 members in over 200 countries.
SEND: There’s pleasure in finding and choosing suitable postcards and stamps uniquely representative of your own location. Clever members can match a postcard to followers hobbies. It took a couple of weeks for the first postcard to hit my letterbox but I could start mailing out straight away.
RECEIVE: The beauty, variety and quantity I received, often from places I’d never heard of, was impressive. English is universal although you can specify countries and language. Handwritten, never laser printed, it takes a certain skill to describe something about yourself and your town on the back of a small piece of cardboard!
The Postcrossing project was created in 2005 by Postcrossing Founder Paulo Magalhães as a side project when he was a student in Portugal. From 2008 to 2017, 40 million postcards have been sent. Naturally Paulo loves to receive postcards and finding one in his mailbox always makes his day!
Right down to the different shapes of the stamps, and in some cases, distinctly long addresses, I was hooked on the fun.
The Postcrossing website has stats and charts to follow the progress of your postcards and I only had one go missing in action. I think the British postcards were the quickest to arrive and I’ll be diplomatic and not say which was the slowest. Larger countries sometimes lagged, perhaps because of sheer volume – or misguided postal cuts. In Australia, there’s an infinite variety of unique postage stamps and supply doesn’t look like declining any time soon.
This world-wide concept stands strong, despite the challenges of internet and social media. Stamps are still stuck on postcards, timeless messages are still written on the back, and they are still physically mailed to a real address.
Postcrossing friendships are possible via their blog, forum and meet-ups. Due to work commitments, I closed my Postcrossing account and gave many of my postcards to a collector. I kept a few colourful ones to wistfully gaze at on a quiet day.
Post a postcard!
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
Want more? The Snail Mail mega toons postcard edition