Death of the humble postcard?

Looking back over the last twelve months I realised that we didn’t receive a single postcard during the whole of 2020. As outlined in the ‘About’ page, the sending and receiving of postcards has been in steep decline for a number of years and the pandemic has accelerated the decline. We were down to receiving just two or three a year and those people who could be relied upon to send us an obligatory ‘Wish you were here…’ rarely left their homes in 2020, let alone travelled to a destination worthy of a postcard. It’s not that long ago that we would enjoy receiving postcards from near and far, and pin them to our notice board where they would remain for several months until eventually being despatched to the recycling bin.

A few years ago, a duty which made me think more about postcards was that of clearing out mum’s apartment. In so doing, we found an old biscuit tin containing a good selection of the postcards she and dad had received over the years. They dated back to the 1950s and were from a wide range of family, friends and neighbours. Looking through them was a welcome trip down Memory Lane.

The limited space available forced the sender to be succinct but each one told it own short story – of seaside holidays in Skegness, Blackpool or Great Yarmouth or further afield of fishing villages in Cornwall, walks in the Lake District or of visits to Scottish lochs and castles. Later, with the availability of package holidays, the more adventurous folk would send postcards from Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland or Austria. I remember those latter ones were my first encounter with foreign stamps.

Now, with texts, emails, FaceTime and mobile phones readily available, it is understandable that people prefer the wonder of instant communication rather than rely on the snail-mail pace of traditional postcards. Sadly the switch to modern communications does mean that old biscuit tins are no longer being filled with postcards for someone to discover in years to come.

I can’t remember the last time we bought, wrote, stamped and posted a postcard. I sometimes use an online service to upload my own photo whilst on holiday and send it as an actual postcard – usually printed and posted in the UK and delivered the following day so the best of both worlds.

Questions…. Did you receive any postcards in 2020? When did you last send a postcard?

23 thoughts on “Death of the humble postcard?

  1. I used to love reading the postcards when I went to Blackpool every year as a child. I haven’t received one for a couple of years. My grandchildren usually say they will send a card when they go on holiday but they FaceTime me instead. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The tin appeared at a time when you were discouraged about their demise. That tin and its contents will become more and more valuable as time goes on because as much as tech allows us the quick “wish you were here” it just isn’t the same as the written word. We are finding the same to be true with pictures where I spent months sorting them for our children. As I handled them and put them into small, picture sized albums, I realized how much more I enjoyed these than the thousands we have on a thumb drive. A small well placed album may beckon you to come for a visit, but a thumb drive never will. The same is true for communication. A box of old letters may invite you for an afternoon trip down memory lane, but emails tend to produce at a higher rate than rabbits, and one tends to just “delete all” to be done with that tedious chore.

    So, I say, keep your Mums postcards and keep creating your own.

    Your contribution to the world is one enjoyed by many..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks for your comments. We will certainly keep the tin and contents (may even be featured in a future blog!). I agree with you about actual photos vs electronic ones. I have watched people look at photos on mobile phones and simple swipe from one to another without looking at any of them properly.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is a shame but it is true. I remember holidays abroad when we sent cards home on the first or second day even before we had got anything to say about the place just to be sure they arrived before we got home. I still buy postcards but don’t send them. I really cannot remember when I last received one through the post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I didn’t receive any postcards in 2020!
    I may have mentioned before that my blog name came about because I used to make limited edition postcards. I like the idea of photography taking on a physical form and who doesn’t like receiving a postcard?
    Your tin full of postcards comment resonated with me. You are right. There will be a virtual cloud filled with images protected by a password that has long been forgotten and they will be buried forever somewhere in cyberspace!!! The idea that postcards carried not only photographs but messages is priceless and those treasure tins full of personal and social history will indeed be something lost forever.
    The tide of technology has swept away so many things that are important from postcards to high street shops. Many people are locked into their screens and live with headphones on. They seem to have no interest in engaging in the real world. I often say the Sony Walkman was the beginning of the end! Perhaps I am the only one who might see it that way but the Walkman was one of the first bits of technology to take people out of the real world and place them in their own bubble and they had no interest in even saying “good morning” to people in their own community!!!
    I may not send many postcards regularly but I send cards, letters and packages to friends and family probably more than anyone else I know. I buy Royal Mail special edition picture stamps to make even the envelopes look more interesting.
    (And just for the record….I don’t wear headphones and I’m not on Facebook!🤠)
    I still make my photographs into something physical with an annual high quality photo book of my best images from that year.
    Right, that’s enough of my waffle.
    Happy new year and I look forward to seeing what you bring us in 2021 📸😀👍🖼

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We received two postcards in 2020, both from a friend in New Zealand, and both came in an envelope with a letter! I think the point about swiping past pictures on a phone also has a sad aside in that people rarely take in nature, or wildlife views nowadays. They are too busy taking a picture or selfie such that they miss the actual beauty in front of them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comments Peter. We used to receive postcards in envelopes from a certain couple and I admired how well organised they were. They took pre-addressed envelopes with them on holiday and that way their messages could extend into the space usually reserved for the address.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Now the postal cost is the same for a postcard as for a letter but “in the old days” it was cheaper for a postcard so there was an advantage for the average holidaymaker who wished to “boast” about their exotic travels!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I used to collect postcards as a child and have about three shoeboxes of them. I still buy a postcard if I go somewhere new as a memento. Didn’t get any postcards last year but did send a few to family and friends when I was on holiday for a week in Norfolk.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post, thanks!
    I remember as a teenager, joyfully receiving a biscuit tin, chock full of postcards from aunties, uncles and cousins. A fascinating collection, mostly sent from Scotland, Spain, Portugal or America.
    I particularly liked the flamenco dancer postcards with real lace to depict the dresses.


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