As part of my Clutter-Free February project (wherein I’m trying to delete at least 10 bookmarks, emails, or podcasts from my laptop each day), I took a day to finally put away a bunch of postcards I had found in my late aunt’s apartment while in France this past fall. It turns out she had saved almost every postcard anyone had sent her, including a bunch from my late mother, mostly from her honeymoon. The postcard pictured above is one I sent during one of my first visits to San Francisco as an adult, over fifteen years ago.

I, too, am a fan of postcards and have been collecting them most of my life. I have almost forty from France alone, many from my mother and siblings on their visits to family. Probably my favorite part of the collection is a set of four postcards from Austria, representing one long letter from my brother while he was traveling with a friend in high school. They did not arrive on the same day or in order! I also have a postcard from Egypt written entirely in faux hieroglyphics (from two college friends traveling around the world to whom I sent the weekly NPR puzzle and other updates via email as they traveled).

Having a great time, wish you were here!

I’ve been very lucky that a few people in my life are avid travelers and are very good about remembering my collection. I try to do the same, which is why I recovered more than twenty-five of my own postcards from my aunt’s collection. They have really filled out the American section of my albums, which is pretty weak considering. I guess most people don’t think to send postcards when traveling domestically. I only have about half of the United States covered, with the top five states being California, Hawaii, Florida, Texas, and Utah. Probably the rarest state I have is Nebraska. Notable gaps include Alaska and the Deep South.

Beyond the United States and France, top countries include Italy, England, Spain, Germany, and Australia. The collection definitely skews to Europe, although I have over thirty postcards from the Americas (outside the US), thirty from Asia, and fifteen from Africa. Shockingly, I have three postcards from Burma, from three different people. Other rarities include Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, as well as Mali, Malta, and Mauritius. The prize of the collection is certainly St Helena, the island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean where Napoléon was exiled after his defeat at Waterloo. Thanks to my favorite American cousin (a mad traveler who first got me interested in opera) for that one! Regional gaps include Central Africa, despite having a French cousin presently living there (I must get on that) and the Middle East.

In addition to getting real mail and knowing someone is thinking of you, which is always nice, I love seeing where people go, what trends pop up (I remember one year when it seemed everyone was going to Budapest), and what a country’s stamps look like.

Do you like getting postcards? If you receive them, do you keep them? Do you send them when you travel?

Napoléon's original tomb on St Helena

Napoléon’s original tomb on St Helena