Looking for a great souvenir from your next vacation destination? Tired of the same old selfies and social media posts as proof of your travels? Consider the humble postcard. It’s inexpensive, fun to send and receive, and easy to store. It might even be a collectors’ item someday.
Postcards are also a great way to share memories with the people you love—and with Domtar—this summer.
The History of Postcards
The first postcards appeared in the middle of the 19th century. Guinness World Records notes that the oldest known postcard dates from 1840 and was sold at auction in London in 2002 for $45,370.60. But it wasn’t until 1873 that stamped postal cards were first issued in the United States. Americans fell in love with the 1-cent prestamped cards almost immediately, and an industry was born.
Picture postcards became extremely popular with people of all ages, who used the compact cards to send travel greetings, birthday and holiday messages and personal notes. Businesses also realized the potential of postcards and began using them for advertisements and business correspondence.
The rest, as they say, is history. The United States Postal Service reported that it handled nearly 3 billion postcards in 2016.
Postcard Collectors Preserve History
Today, deltiophiles—postcard collectors—help preserve postcards of all types, like classic antiques, kitschy vintage cards and modern picture postcards from around the world.
Joyce Marble of Robinson, Illinois, has several hundred postcards—some of which date back to the 1880s—in her collection.
“I started collecting after I got married in 1962,” she says. “Whenever we went on vacation, I wrote a postcard to my mother with a hidden message for Papa, and then she would give it back to me once they had enjoyed it. I liked that, so I started to send a postcard to myself from every destination I visited. I’ve been doing that for more than 50 years. It’s a record of where I’ve been and what I did while I was there.”
Marble’s collection spans generations; she inherited her parents’ postcard collection, which includes items from their parents and extended family, and her children send postcards from their travels. She has also added to her collection by buying old postcards at antique stores and estate sales.
Aside from the sentimental value of old family postcards, Marble appreciates the beauty of the vintage artwork and the quality of the photography on modern postcards. And, as an avid traveler, Marble prefers postcards to traditional souvenirs.
“Many of the things I’ve bought as souvenirs in the past are long gone, but I still have my postcards tucked away,” she says. “In fact, I sometimes don’t buy any souvenirs on a trip because I know I’ll have my postcard. Someday, when I can no longer travel, I know I can sit around and read my postcards. That’s special to me.”
Put It on a Postcard This Summer
We love the idea of documenting special travel experiences with a postcard. National Postcard Week was the week of May 7 this year, but we want to continue the celebration all summer long.
Here are three ways to participate in our “Put It on a Postcard” campaign from now through Labor Day:
- Send a postcard to someone you love, and share it with us on Facebook or Twitter.
- Share your postcard collection with us by posting on your social media channels and tagging photos with @DomtarEveryday and #PutItOnAPostcard.
- Help us start our own collection by mailing a postcard to Domtar Corporate Communications, 100 Kingsley Park Drive, Fort Mill, SC 29715. We’ll share what we receive with you in a future article on the Newsroom.