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10-06-2017

Wish you were here

It wasn’t many years ago when we were surprised by postcards from friends and family members travelling abroad. Personally, I used to love getting postcards from faraway places, with exotic stamps and photographs of monuments and scenery. When I was little, I particularly loved the ones with the fancy flamenco dancers’ dresses glued on in satin, with their high heels and curly black hair.

Souvenir shops always had rotating stands selling postcards. Those rotating stands are still there, but most of the postcards spend so long there that they get dog-eared and faded. Once you’ve bought them, you will have the headache of finding somewhere selling stamps. In Spain, strangely, the only places you can officially buy stamps are post offices (good luck with that one, there is always a massive queue) and tobacconists.

It’s been a couple of years since I bothered to send a postcard from abroad, after all, my friends want to know where I am, what I am doing and what I think about it, all they need to do is log onto Facebook where I post endless photographs that I am sure nobody is interested.

Writing anything with a pen is out of fashion these days, with so many easy technological tools available. The same goes for greeting cards. In these environmentally friendly times, why kill trees to send bits of printed cardboard, single-use items that pollute the planet?

However, I like postcards. I still buy them, although I am more likely to have them framed in an artistic way than to send them. As they become less common, these items are sure to become expensive collectors’ items, in fact many postcards are already considered valuable antiques.

There are many types of collectible vintage postcard. Some are hand painted or hand printed, embroidered while others are real photographs. Rare and historical postcards can be extremely valuable and fetch large sums at auctions.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the most valuable picture postcard in the world was sent by Theodore Hook Esq. to himself in 1840 and was bought at the London Stamp Exchange auction, in England on 8 March 2002 by collector Eugene Gomberg (Latvia) for £31,758.75. It is also considered to be the oldest postcard in the world.

Let’s send postcards this summer, and make the tradition popular again. At the very least, you’ll make someone’s day when it drops through the letterbox onto the doormat. What a surprise!

Juliet Allaway

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