The power of the post in a digital age

A pen pal sent me a newspaper clipping because they know I like cats, but there was also a postal related aspect. A kitty went missing and the owner searched, put notices on the internet, and posted flyers in the community. No success. As a last ditch effort she paid for 500 lost pet postcards to be mailed to homes in the surrounding area. Success! She got 2 phone calls from the same neighborhood. She credits the postcards. People may not see a posted flyer or miss something posted online (not to mention that some folks only use the internet minimally or not at all) but it is hard to ignore a postcard in your mailbox!

I have several blogs, and for one of my other blogs (about Christianity) I decided to start postal mailing a bi-annual newsletter, highlighting content from it. I recently sent the second one, and have had real “success.” My goals are not monetary, but I got some helpful responses: two folks contacted me about leadership opportunities in the church, one person asked me for more copies of the newsletter to hand out to friends at church, and a couple people let me know they were encouraged by articles in the newsletter.

And the point is…In an age of digital technology sometimes going “old school” by using the post can grab attention. There is so much online today that good or important content can get lost in the crowd, never seen or found, so sending information by post can be a help. Of course, paper can get “lost” in a pile of paper clutter too, but in a digital age I think tangible communication can stand out!

A cute postcard related to COVID-19

I’ve not been writing on Postman’s Treasure recently. After international mail taking 6-8 weeks, when it would normally take 1-2 weeks, things seem to be speeding back up with delivery times. At least, I have received a couple letters from Europe that only took about 10 days. Yeah!

Today I received a postcard from Singapore, through postcrossing, and I loved its focus on the current situation with COVID-19. Note everyone and everything is wearing a mask, and they seem to be keeping some social distance too.

Postcrossing postcards

I had a post already about Postcrossing. See here. “The goal of this project is to allow anyone to send and receive postcards from all over the world! The idea is simple: for each postcard you send, you will receive one back from a random postcrosser from somewhere in the world.”

Here is a photo of the 5 postcards I received when I first did this over the summer (my thoughts continue after the photo):

These cards were from the USA, Canada, and Germany.

I’ve not participated again until just recently, and I sent 2 postcards to Russia and Poland.

Someone asked me what type of postcards you send. Well, many postcrossers give a description of themselves (their hobbies/interests) and also share what type of postcards they prefer to receive. Therefore, it is nice to try and choose a postcard that matches the person’s interests or preferences, if possible.

I said that I like to receive postcards that feature a scene of  your area of the world – whether country or city. I have received such. However one postcard above, the sender clearly chose it after reading my self description. Among other things, I mentioned that I am a practicing Christian and love butterflies. Look!! They sent me a postcard that featured a butterfly and Bible verse. Wow! I was so touched.

One of the postcards I recently sent to Russia was a perfect match for this person. When I was on vacation on the Atlantic coast of my state in the fall, I bought a set of black and white postcards featuring vintage lighthouse/beach photos from long ago. Guess what? This person in Russia said they like black and white photos and the beach/ocean. Wow – I had some perfect cards to chose from for her!

Postcards and fountain pens…

My last post (in August! where did September go?) featured two newspaper articles from the east coast of the US (North Carolina) about cursive handwriting and typewriters making a comeback. This post features two newspaper articles from the west coast of the US (California) about fountain pens and postcards. These articles were full or multi-page spreads so I could not nicely scan to share with you. However, I have partial photos below. Thanks to a postal correspondent who sent these clippings to me. First one…While the mailing of postcards is at an all-time low, there are still fans of postcards. October marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of the postcard and enthusiasts gathered in various cities around the world. The article mentioned postcrossing, which I had a post about: see here. Something that caught my eye in the article was that postcards peaked during the years of 1900-1915 and billions were mailed. Why did this catch my eye? I possess my grandmother’s childhood postcard collection which is postcards from about 1905 to 1918. Many of them contain brief words of communication about everyday life, as many would today send a text message.

The next article is about fountain pens, specifically a 3 day International Pen Show in San Francisco. Fountain pens are making a comeback!

The article states:  “Fountain pens, the things people once wrote with, are getting written with all over again. That’s a fairly revolutionary thing for fountain pens, which for years were locked up in display cases and tucked into storage. Fountain pens are coming out of the closet. These days, people are putting ink in them and not all the ink is leaking into their shirt pockets. It’s the dawn of another golden age, say the hundreds of fountain pen fans who jammed…the Pen Show.”

The article briefly wonders why fountain pens are popular again. “Maybe…it’s a backlash from the fast digital world to the slower world of five digits and a wrist. Maybe everything old is new again, especially to a young person with dough.”

Of interest, there were no fewer than 780 inks to try at the show!

Postcrossing – postcards!

I’ve been familiar with Postcrossing for years, but never got involved until recently. In case any of my readers (not many of you, haha!) have not heard of it, I wanted to share about it. Check out Postcrossing HERE.

From their about: “The goal of this project is to allow anyone to send and receive postcards from all over the world! The idea is simple: for each postcard you send, you will receive one back from a random postcrosser from somewhere in the world.”

I am new, but have sent 3, received 1, and another is on the way to me from somewhere! I’ve sent postcards to Russia, Germany, and the USA (California).

Their organized system seems very successful, and you really do receive postcards if you send some out. It is easy to sign up, and free. So if your mailbox is a bit lonely or you just like the idea of exchanging postcards with random people from around the world – check out Postcrossings!

** I blog inconsistently, but I have several things in mind to blog about – so check back soon!


Antique postcards with letter writing theme

Below are 3 postcards from my grandmother’s postcard collection. The various postcards in her scrapbook date from around 1905 – 1918. I picked these 3 out to share because each has a letter writing theme. You should be able to click on them to view them bigger.

Sorry if the photos of objects on this blog are not the best. Taking photos of things, versus scenery or people, does not seem to be my forte.


Share YOUR world with pen friends

Awhile back I had a post about “tuck-ins” – items you can enclose or tuck-in the envelope along with your letter. A tuck-in can help bring a letter to life, show that you care, or just keep things interesting. More here.

For those in the US, stopping in a state visitor center when you drive into that state on the highway can be a great source of free pamphlets that could interest your pen pals. Recently I did some travel in and out of my own state several times, and stopped at both the North and South Carolina visitor centers.

I have experienced that some pen pals assume that you know all about their area. They will mention a place or event they visited/attended with little word of explanation. But outside of your area, others may not be aware of popular local parks, historical sites, typical nature, or events. What is “normal” to you may not be normal to your pen friend. The ordinary could be extraordinary to them.

Last summer I had university students from Arizona and California live with me, and they found South Carolina landscape and nature (and weather) very different. A student that lived with me from Australia years ago was fascinated by and took dozens of photos of… squirrels. She had never seen a squirrel. (Of interest, besides writing pen pals, I’ve also had students from around the US and world live with me.)

But back to the state visitor centers…Here are pamphlets I picked up in the SC center:

To highlight one…The birding pamphlet is really light weight paper, will easily fold (if you need to fold it, to make it fit in a smaller envelope), and should definitely not make your letter need extra postage. When you open this pamphlet, it has many photos of birds that can be seen on Hilton Head Island, SC. Even if a pen friend is not a bird enthusiast, they would likely enjoy it. Different parts of the US and world have different birds.

While in the SC visitor center, the employee asked if I needed assistance. I was in a chatty mood and explained that I lived in SC but was getting some pamphlets to send to pen pals. I mentioned my old-fashioned hobby of postal letter writing and that I correspond with people all over the US and world. The employee then asked if I’d like some free postcards! She brought out a container that was back behind the counter and told me to pick some out. Apparently these are not kept out in the open for everyone, but made available for certain people/situations – like me I guess! Here are the postcards I chose, which show waterfalls and state park areas.

By the way, I photographed the postcards on top of my lap desk. It is a quality and comfortable lap desk, which I use to write letters while sitting in a chair. I bought it many years ago, and whenever I come upon a lap desk since then it never matches the quality of mine.

I also rarely send postcards as direct mail, but use them as an enclosure with a letter. Except when I am traveling – When I am on a vacation I do mail actual postcards. See this post for photos of me mailing postcards around the world. However, I always return with extra postcards that I tuck-in with future letters.

Keep your eyes open for interesting items to enclose with your pen pal letters!

A Christmas postcard from 1913

I’m planning a series of antique postal mail posts. For now, here is a Christmas postcard mailed to my grandmother Leota VanScoter on December 19, 1913. She was 15 years old. Postage was one cent. In case you can’t read the message:
Dear Leota, Just received the fine Xmas card you sent me. I haven’t heard from you in a year. I have a new fountain pen. Worley (?? can’t quite make out the name)

I think this Santa is…a bit…creepy!

A postcard is a gift, thoughtful – mail one!

Recently I drove to North Carolina, and upon returning to South Carolina I stopped at the SC state visitor center – which I’d not done in several years. I picked up some booklets and pamphlets to place in my guest room, to update the old ones I had in there. Flipping through the latest Greenville, SC guide, I was pleasantly surprised to find a free postcard inside, along with this note:

“Free postcard – even the stamp’s on us! There’s something about a handwritten postcard. It brings with it greetings from across time zones, continents, and oceans. Its stamp and postmark join the image on the front to introduce someone special to someplace new and exciting. And the message itself – so much more personal than any e-mail or text message can ever be. A postcard is a gift, thoughtful. A connective keepsake that we proudly display on our fridge or desktop. A reminder of simpler times.”

Bravo! To mail it free you just have to stop in the visitor center in downtown Greenville, SC. Greenville is an up-and-coming small city with a lovely downtown.

If you write pen pals, tucking in extra things with your letter is always nice (I’ll post about that sometime in the future!) – But tucking in a tourist pamphlet about your area is always an option.

Mailing postcards around the world

I enjoy international travel, and I still write and mail postcards. Here are some postal related photos of Iceland, Finland, Estonia, Ireland. I don’t mail as many postcards as I used to. Years ago, I usually mailed a minimum of 20-25 postcards. Now I mail around a dozen. I don’t receive near as many postcards either anymore, as so many share their photos on social media. There is something to be said for tangible postcards though! Mail some on your next vacation! When in Finland, I was able to meet a pen pal that I have written since 1995.

Mailing postcards in Iceland.

Mailing postcards in Estonia.

In cobblestone “old Rauma” in Finland, the mail is delivered by bicycle. The mailboxes were this bright yellow color in Finland and said posti.

A quaint mailbox in the Finnish countryside.

Mailing postcards in Dublin, Ireland.