Looking for Sean McLachlan? He mostly hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog these days, but feel free to nose around this blog for some fun older posts!

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Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Two Million Postcards From Strangers

A lot of people say written correspondence is dying out. With the advent of email and cheap telephone calls, people send far fewer letters and postcards than before.

But it may be due for a comeback. A postcard swapping organization called Postcrossing just sent its two millionth postcard last week. Postcrossing melds the internet with good, old-fashioned snail mail by having an online database and forum through which members can meet other postcard collectors--or deltiologists, if you prefer. The main activity is a random swap. A user requests to send a card and is given the address of another user and a code. The user sends the card, and when it's received, that person enters the code into the online database and the sender is now next in line to receive a card.

After only three and a half years in operation, Postcrossing has more than 80,000 members in 192 countries and just last week a member in Norway received a card from Germany that was number two million through the system. Postcrossing founder Paulo Magalhães said,

"The best part of the whole process is probably what’s done 'offline' - choosing the postcard and writing it up. And then, of course, there’s the thrill of getting a surprise in your mailbox, a postcard that was especially written for you, from anywhere in the world. The Postcrossing community has extended the 'offline' side of the project, by creating meetups that take place in several different cities in the world. There is even one happy story of a couple who met each other through Postcrossing and are now married and living together in Finland."

Postcrossing is a lot of fun and brings back the time when a trip the the mailbox wasn't just a weary search through bills and junk mail. I joined a couple of months ago and have already gotten some great cards in the mail. Actually, since my profile mentions Julián likes cards with trains and cars, about half the cards I receive are actually for him! If you're a member or if you decide to join, check out my Postcrossing profile.


Chris Overstreet said...

The two million mark is amazing, and that's just the "official" count -- I've sent and received more cards through "unofficial" swaps with people I've met on Postcrossing than I have with the "official" cards (yourself included). I wouldn't be surprised if the total, untracked count was three million or more.

My 5-year-old grandson is catching postcard fever as well -- though he wants to choose the "stickers" for the cards based on their aesthetic value rather than by their monetary value.

Sean McLachlan said...

Good point. I've done about as many private swaps as I have officials, and judging from the forum that's pretty common.

Ana said...

ive done 50 times more swaps than official cards...i think that if we count the unofficial postcards, sent and received, the number will be waaay beyong 3 million :)

btw, at the time of writing this, the number of received official postcards is 2,042,994...thats 42,000 postcards in like 10 days...i can see the 3 millionth official registered card coming more than soon..

this project is just sooo amazing! If only i was richer... :)

ps. just one correction if im allowed..the user who registered the 2 millionth card is from Norway, not Finland...i think he is the user with most profiles on the site...ive never managed to track them all down but i know its over 10 :)

Sean McLachlan said...


But I said he was from Norway! Hee hee, actually I corrected it. Thanks for pointing it out. I wonder how often people correct mistakes in their blog and make it look like the person who left the comment was wrong?

My private swaps will go up when I'm in Oxford, because I'll be away from my "official" address.

I've heard of people having more than one profile. Is that so they can go beyond the normal sending limit?

Ana said...

to be honest, you really made my heart stop for a while...i really thought i had misread and that you had actually said he was from Norway and i had just made a fool of myself :)
yeah, thats a nice virtue of yours...it has happened to me...i had labeled a card as from a totally different town and a blogger pointed it out and i thanked him and corrected it...though i could have just deleted his comment and corrected it myself...or as in some other posts i miss something important and all...i think it aint fun to be perfect and pretend in front of the world that you are :)

as for the multiple accounts...from what ive read, people just cant wait for their current travelling cards to get registered so that they are able to send new ones, so they make another profile..or they are just way too addicted and can afford it as well..coz its not the cheapest hobby in the world after all

i wouldnt open a second account, mainly coz i feel that if i do so, my accounts would lack identity...by having one, it portrays you and who you are and all..if you start having more, then something just gets lost in its meaning...i hope im making sense
in general i think people have two accounts...Joey (the Norwegian guy) is the only one who has over 10...

ok, i talk too much :)

Lara Dunston said...

Oh, I'll have to check this out. I started researching a story on postcards last year and the response was extraordinary - I discovered postcards well and truly had not died out - and then I noticed quite recently that one of the most popular posts on the Budget Travel blog was on postcards, with a couple of hundred comments, far more than they normally get. There's really something special about them that emails, twitters, and blogs will never replace.

Sean McLachlan said...


It's a very fun group, and with the amount of travel you do, I'm sure you'll be very popular!