Friday, January 21, 2011

Adventures in Deltiology

deltiology (ˌdɛltɪˈɒlədʒɪ)
— n, the collection and study of picture postcards
[C20: from Greek deltion, diminutive of deltos a writing tablet + -logy ]


Every day, I still visit my mailbox when I get home with a sense of hope-even though the bulk of my correspondence is online these days. There's such a thrill in receiving "snail mail", I always think. My father used to write me regularly, & still sends postcards when he travels. Postcards have always been my favorite mail-whenever someone leaves town, I'll be begging them to send me a postcard from wherever their journey takes them.

Since I love mail but rarely find anything in the mailbox but bills & ads, I have joined an online project called Postcrossing. The website explains: "The goal of this project is to allow people to receive postcards from all over the world, for free. Well, almost free! The main idea is that: if you send a postcard, you will receive at least one back from a random Postcrosser from somewhere in the world." How does it work? After you sign up for your (free) account, it works like this:

1.Request an address and a Postcard ID
2.Mail the postcard to that address
3.Receive a postcard from another postcrosser!
4.Register the Postcard ID you have received
5.Go to number 1 to receive more postcards!

Postcrossing boasts 214,501 members in 205 countries; 766 postcards/hour; 6,154,685 postcards received; 207,549 postcards traveling; 33,699,683,074 km traveled! I have had a lot of fun with it over the last couple of years, sending postcards to the Netherlands, Taiwan, Brazil, & Iceland, & receiving cards from Japan, Iran, Thailand, Finland, & Estonia.

If, like me, you love postcards, consider checking out these offerings from the library catalog:

Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence written and illustrated by Nick Bantock

Frank Warren's Postsecret books (PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard. See more on the website.)

Real Photo Postcards: Unbelievable Images from the Collection of Harvey Tulcenskyedited by Laetitia Wolff

Postcards from the Boys by Ringo Starr

Had a Good Time: Stories from American Postcards by Robert Olen Butler

Delivering Views: Distant Cultures in Early Postcards edited by Christraud M. Geary and Virginia-Lee Webb

A Postcard Memoir by Lawrence Sutin

Border Fury: A Picture Postcard Record of Mexico's Revolution and U.S. War Preparedness, 1910-1917 by Paul J. Vanderwood and Frank N. Samponaro

For children, try a subject search under "Postcards Juvenile".

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