Over the years I went through many hobbys and collections: used to collect coins, stickers, sailor moon and garbage pail kids figurines, make handmade earrings, etc… The only thing I have stayed true to was collecting postcards.
Looking back, I think it all started during my childhood. My parents used to take me to the sea side almost every year and each time we used to send postcards to people at home – the classical postcards with Romanian beaches, hotels and summer gardens.
I already had some from my mother – old black and white postcards that she inherited from her mom too. My mother had several collections – coins, stamps and napkins. So I guess that’s how I ended up collecting postcards – it runs through the family.
During university I joined an online site called postcrossing.com – a postcard exchange project that invites everyone to send and receive postcards from random places in the world, for free! The main idea is that: if you send a postcard, you will receive one back from someone somewhere in the world.
Why? Because there are lots of people who like to receive real mail. The element of surprise of receiving postcards from different places in the world (many of which you probably have never heard of) can turn your mailbox into a box of surprises – and who wouldn’t like that?
The site randomly gives you an address where to send the postcard and a code, so that the receiver can register the card in the system. After your postcard is received, your address will randomly be given to someone to send you a postcard. Where the postcard comes from is a surprise!
This way I ended up having over 300 postcards from all places around the world, besides the nearly 200 I already had from Romania. Have you heard of Granada or Taubate? I didn’t before receiving a postcard.
With the traveling I have done so far, my collection grew bigger and bigger – ‘cause yes, I’m like Mr. Bean, sending myself postcards from the places I’m visiting. Now I have photo albums where I store them depending on the topic and I’m thinking of making a whole wall in my house for them.
Like any collector, I do have my favorites: the ones with lighthouses, the ones with St. Basil Cathedral from Moscow, and some from Malaysia. I like postcards picturing one single thing, not the ones with several interest points on them.
If you ask yourself which one is the dearest or, in some case, probably the most valuable card I own, is a black and white one with the Island of Ada Kaleh, submerged by Ceausescu in order to build the Iron Gates hydroelectric plant in 1970.
As with most collectables, it’s difficult to put a prize on when you invest time and passion. As for the cards, pretty important is the postmark and the message on the back – which shows the age of the card and its provenience.
Next time you go on vacation or on a small tip, don’t forget to buy a card or to send one to someone you care about. They will appreciate the real mail!