Jan 232013

Postcards could be considered the first form of social media, like Twitter, short and sweet.  Maybe you collect postcards as some collect “likes” on Facebook.  Or pin postcards to your bulletin board like Pinterest.  Who hasn’t sent or received a postcard at some time?

History of the postcard

Postcards have probably been around as long as the postal service.  The earliest known picture postcard was a hand-painted design on card stock posted in London in 1840.  Postcards in the US started off as hand written advertising to influence customers.  The first printed souvenir postcards were created in 1893 to advertise the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

1893 postcard front and back

pre-World’s Columbian Exposition 1893 – Agricultural Building

Only the US Post Office was allowed to print postcards until 1898 and you could only write the sendees address on the front of the postcard where the stamp went.  Some senders wrote a message around the image on the reverse side in the tiniest of scripts.  Tweet.  Nine years later the divided postcard was allowed so the address could be written on one side of the line along with the stamp and a message on the other.

An 1873 postcard required a 1₵ stamp and after 100 years of slow increase in price reached double digits in 1978 at 10₵.  We currently spend 32₵ in the US.

Facebook is surely a faster method of communication and may still be free but how many times do you look back at an old message even if there’s a picture attached?  Do you tape them to your refrigerator?

Collecting postcards

I remember as a kid how excited I’d get when I got mail, and a postcard from some far away land was even better.  I’d pin it to a bulletin board, one made of cork, with tacks.  Today I get email.  This is usually faster and even more often comes from different parts of the world.

Deltiologists are collectors of postcards.  Some collectors choose to limit their acquisitions to cards by specific artists and publishers, or by time and location.  Worldwide, deltiology is thought to be the third largest hobby after stamp and coin collecting.

Don’t we all collect something?  Can we be Pinterestologists?

Souvenirs and memories

Before convenient photography was available for the general public postcards provided an image to remember a place visited or to send a quick note to family and friends.  You didn’t even need an envelope and could send one to yourself.

Historic postcard from GRCA

Decades ago when I visited over a dozen US National Parks I bought at least one postcard at every park just in case my cheapo camera failed.  Plus I stamped the park’s passport stamp on the back for the date because I knew I’d never remember a special book for that.

Scrapbooks full of postcards are similar to jpgs on your computer and Instagram sends those precious memories into cyberspace.

Postcards from South Africa

Postcards collected on last trip to South Africa

Postcards from South Africa

While traveling in South Africa I’ll be visiting a lot of interesting places and parks.  I plan to buy postcards and send them to you.  All you have to do is leave a comment below.  Twelve people will be chosen to have a postcard sent from me and when received I ask you to post the postcard on your blog, if you have one, or on Geogypsy’s Facebook page.  I will post the chosen recipients on January 25th which marks one week until I leave.

This may be a little slower than the current social media.  But then who doesn’t like to receive snail-mail that’s not a bill?

  32 Responses to “Postcards are like a tweet on paper”

Comments (32)
  1. Put me on your list. I love getting mail.
    Fabgrandma recently posted..Yes, I Am AracnophobicMy Profile

  2. What a fantastic idea, I hope I get to find all the blogged post cards that you send, all will be great memories for me. So looking forward to your trip, I will be with you each and every blog you post. Safe trip Diane
    Diane recently posted..Christmas in Casablanca Part 2My Profile

    • Thanks Diane. Maybe you’ll be one of the postcard recipients. I will post who and when I send the postcards with a link to their blog. Of course it could be weeks or months before they receive it.
      10 days until I leave.

  3. I would love a card, but I am not a blogger!! Does that exclude me? Have fun either way!!! 8*)

  4. I LOVE collecting postcards (even though it is a lost art!), but since I just saw that I won one on your Facebook page, I won’t be greedy and ask for another =o)

  5. I want to be a recipient of whatever you sending…Facebook, Tweets, or Blog! Can’t wait to get a postcard from South Africa!!
    Stillhowlyn in 2013 recently posted..Our route to Tucson had a few stops…My Profile

  6. Boy do I LOVE this idea. I love postcards and during the time when we could not travel, lots of wonderful followers of my blog sent me postcards of places they loved that I should visit. I’ve kept everyone and treasure them. Not sure I’ll ever make it to Africa but I’d sure love to be on the postcard list.

    This was a great post Gaelyn. I am often sad about the fact that no one writes anything by hand anymore. No more handwritten letters, few if any postcards. I do wonder how historians will know about everyday people in the future. No one will have 40 year old emails or tweets. Think about all we would have missed without the letters sent home to family from the men fighting in the Civil War. We would never have had the clear picture of what it was like that enabled Ken Burns to do his marvelous historical work.
    Sherry recently posted..Tuesday at HighlandsMy Profile

    • I hang on to the thought that we bloggers are writing history for future generations. But I know what you mean about missing a good hand-written letter, or postcard. You are on the list of possibilities.

      Did the Grand Canyon postcard ever catch up to you?

  7. I participate in Postcrossing (postcrossingdotcom). You register on the website and then are allowed to send a certain number of postcards. Names with addresses are randomly chosen for you so you end up sending postcards all over the world. Once your postcards have been sent your name goes into the pool and you will receive (or is supposed to) postcards from anywhere in the world as well.
    Firefly recently posted..Storms River Mouth panoramaMy Profile

  8. I like postcards too. My cousin sent me a Christmas postcard this year other than that one doesn’t see them much anymore. Sometimes a school project is for the children to try to get a postcard from all the states. That means having people send you some which means not only do you get mail but learning geography is fun. MB

    • I like the idea of kids collecting postcards from around the country. I used to have a penpal when I was a kid.

      I’ve put you on the list of possibilities to receive a post card from South Africa.

  9. By coincidence, my granddaughter just FB’d me that our great-grandsons had received the SNAIL-mail postcards I sent them earlier this week. The six yo was thrilled he could read it! (I can still print good ;>)!)…..

    And I for one would be thrilled to be on the receiving end of a postcard from your trip.

    A very interesting post; I really enjoyed it.
    Sallie (FullTime-Life) recently posted.."THE UNCOMMON APPEAL OF CLOUDS"My Profile

  10. Sherry shared this post with me because she knew I would love it and she was right, as usual. Postcards are timeless and still have the same appeal as they did in the early days. Your recipient may not get the message so quickly as a tweet, but they do have something real in their hands to stop them in their tracks and take them away for a few moments. I wish I had two collections at hand – one of all the postcards I had sent and another of all the postcards I had received. It would be less than two shoe boxes I expect, but what a story they would tell. Thanks for this thoughtful post!
    David Boyd recently posted..Tuesday at HighlandsMy Profile

    • Thank you David. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the quick technology but there is something very special about holding that postcard, handwritten by someone. I’ll add you to the list of possible recipients. Then you two stand a better chance.
      Hope you are well. Love all the hikes you two take.

  11. It’s still a thrill to get a postcard. I send them while on a trip. I love the ones you show. If you email me your address, I’ll send you one from Belgrade.
    Bibi recently posted..SKYWATCH–the pathMy Profile

  12. What a great idea. Please put me on the list of possible recipients. I need to check out this post crossing thing also.
    yogi recently posted..Scavenger Hunt Sunday from Lace to Bling and moreMy Profile

  13. Oh my gosh! I’ve collected postcards, too. I especially like to get them in places where photos aren’t allowed. I suppose that’s one of the reasons that don’t allow them. :) I’ve also got a collection of postcards that my parents left me that go way back – NYC in early 1900s, lots more. Might even be some Columbian Exposition ones. They also left other memorabilia from that event. I know I’m too late to get in on the contest, but couldn’t help but leave a comment. Have a fabulous time in Africa.

  14. What a great idea … hope I am one of the selectees. Even if not, I’ll be following along on your adventure as we hope to someday return to Africa and this time spend time in South Africa.
    Erin recently posted..Ildır & Çeşme … Coastal TownsMy Profile

    • The 12 recipients have been chosen. As they receive postcards I’ll post about it. And of course I hope to be posting while I’m gone. Such a wonderful country I’d encourage your visit.

  15. Seven days till you leave! So excited for you and more excited for me when I receive your postcard! lol neither here nor there, I pray you have safe travels & NO mishaps! Have Fun!

  16. Do you ever think the post office will ever disappear? I remember writing letters many years ago….now it’s all electronic. It’s like the art is disappearing.
    Rohrerbot recently posted..The Whispering WillowsMy Profile

  17. I have a nice collection postcards that have been sent to my or family member. They are a great reminder of people and places. I have also been posting some of my collection on my site.
    Jeff @ GoTravelzing recently posted..Segway Tour of the Distillery District in TorontoMy Profile

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