Like many people, I love to get mail – as long as it isn’t a bill.

But these days, who sends letters or even postcards? Everything is done via the Internet now.

Well, almost everything.

Let me introduce you to Postcrossing.

Postcrossing is a unique website that anonymously allows you to send and receive postcards from around the world. It’s completely free – just like any other site you have to sign up with a username and email, but you also have to give them your address (it doesn’t have to be your home address, you can use a work address or P. O. Box) so some people might be hesitant to give out that sort of information to total strangers in these days of Internet stalking. You can fill out some profile information – what sort of postcards you like, if you would prefer that they be in envelopes or what have you.

Then comes the fun part.

You click on “Send A Postcard” and you are given a randomly generated address from someone else who is registered with the site. You have no control over who it will be or where they will live – according to the site they have close to two hundred and fifty thousand registered members in almost two hundred countries. Of all the cards I have sent and received none have been from or to the US, so I think it’s set up to purposefully give you addresses from other countries to prevent that whole Internet-stalking thing I mentioned.

I think I have an adequate sample size to state that.

When you receive the address you are given a unique registration number, a combination of your country and a string a numbers (US-123456 or something like that) that you will write on the back of the card you send to that person. You can also include a short note to this random stranger you will never meet, if you like. Once they receive it, they will go on the site and use that code to register the card as received. Once that happens, your name is added to the list to receive cards. Every time a card you have sent out is registered as received, your name goes on the list – you can have up to five cards being sent out at the time. Once one of your sent cards is received, you can send out another.

A selection of cards I have received - from left to right ; Japan, Estonia, Australia

 

There is also a forum section where you can swap cards with other people, usually they will request a certain subject or style and you will message them and swap info. That’s how I got these handmade cards. The clear cat postcard I posted about a couple of days ago was for just such a swap.

 

The blue flowers on the card to the right are actually made of tatted thread and sewn to the card.

 

Postcrossing allows you to pull up a listing of all the cards you have sent and received, how far they have traveled and how long it took them to do so. The fastest I’ve ever received a card was five days, two from Finland and one from the Netherlands. The longest it has ever taken was twenty-seven days, that was from Germany. International postage for a letter or postcard from the US is, I think, ninety-eight cents. Add to that the price of a post card – maybe fifty cents? and you have a relatively inexpensive way to receive mail from around the world.

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