National Handwriting Day and postcards

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Will postcards survive?

National Handwriting Day is today, the 23rd of January. The art of elegant (legible) handwriting is almost certainly under threat, and the hand-written postcard seems to be fast becoming a thing of the past.

I went to school in the eighties. One of my strongest memories of my childhood was writing in italics, with a beautiful fountain pen, and polishing my ink well to a shine. I spent hours practicing at home, and and had pen pals from all over the country, even some abroad, until I was in my late teens: some I met in person, others I reached out to in the “Pen pal wanted” adverts in comic books and children’s magazines. Writing was a joy, not a chore. I learnt of far off lands, cultures when I got older – I prided myself in writing to pen pals in French – friends I had met on holiday in summers gone by.

As the years fly by, the number of letters I write has decreased considerably – some years it is only a typed letter of the year’s news which I send out with cards during the holiday season.

The only thing I really write anymore is a postcard to close friends and family, if I go away. Social media has replaced the large number of cards I used to send – after all, why spend a few pounds on a card and stamp for each person, when I can upload a photo I have taken, and write a few words to go with it, and post it on Facebook, a blog and Twitter for all my friends (and the world) to see?

The first postcard was sent (and received!) by Theodore Hook 177 years ago. An intellectual, a composer and a civil servant, Hook was fond of practical jokes. He created a post card with a caricature of post office workers to amuse/bemuse postal workers as it passed through the sorting offices, affixed a Penny Black stamp to it, and sent it to himself in 1840: The world’s oldest postcard!

The very first postcard

As global travel demand continues to increase, it seems that the life and purpose of the traditional postcard has changed: Brian Lund, publisher of Picture Postcard Monthly magazine told PrintWeek five years ago “Not as many postcards are now posted, that is clear… However, people are still buying them en masse, they just keep them rather than sending them.”

But by 2012, the idea of web-print postcards was well established.

It was my mother who first surprised me a few years ago with this new trend: sending me a postcard with a photo she had taken herself using a mobile phone app, which allowed her message to come via “Snail Mail” to my door.

There are many different mobile phone apps of this ilk now available for iPhones and Android. The user can upload photos, add text and addresses directly from their mobile phone address book and, in some cases, even select the picture to appear on the stamp! Cardstock varies from 300-400gsm, with a glossy, “traditional postcard” finish. When you receive it, you are getting a much more personal postcard moment of someone’s holiday. A list of examples of such apps is provided below.

Despite this recent trend, the number of postcards which I receive each year is dwindling. BUT, having spent the last day thinking about how I used to write, and how I love to receive cards and letters, I’m planning on reintegrating this hobby into my life… be it post cards or hand written letters! And maybe my handwriting will reach the high standard again that I had as a child.

Apps for sending postcards (and avoiding illegible handwriting!)

Costs detailed below include postage and were correct on the day of uploading. Free to download apps. Postcards vary in cost depending on the destination, or less when buy a job lot (e.g. 10). The prices indicated below are the lowest cost for one postcard. All apps below can be used worldwide (assuming roaming/wifi access!), but some only send within the UK.

  • Lovetopost – pics to postcards – A RoyalMail App (iOS & Android)
    Cost of postcard: £0.89
    Destinations available: UK
  • Inkly (iOS & Android)
    Cost of postcard: £0.99
    Destinations available: Worldwide
  • Stannp Postcards (iOS & Android)
    Cost of postcard: £1.49
    Destinations available: UK
  • PhotoWire Postcards (Android)
    Cost of postcard: £1.49
    Destinations available: Worldwide
  • Send A Snap (iOS & Android)
    Cost of postcard: £1.49 – Profits go to Save the Children!
    Destinations available: Worldwide
  • Postcard by PrintMe (iOS)
    Cost of postcard: £1.79
    Destinations available: Worldwide
  • Touchnote (iOS & Android)
    Cost of postcard: £1.99
    Destinations available: Worldwide
  • Postsnap (iOS)
    Cost of postcard: £1.99
    Destinations available: Worldwide
  • MyPostcard Postcard App (Android)
    Cost of postcard: £1.99
    Destinations available: Worldwide
  • National Trust Postcards (iOS & Android)
    Cost of postcard: £2.00
    Destinations available: UK
    NB not YOUR photos, but from the NT database of photos of NT properties/destinations



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