Stamps

I recently mentioned I have too many interests. Here’s another one: stamps.

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“Wild Boar” from the series “baby animals”

My mother introduced me into collecting stamps when I was very very young and got me my first album. Ever since me and stamps always had some kind of on-off-relationship. I would usually collect a few stamps here and there and if I had enough, I would get them off the paper and put them in my (very small) album. It took me more than a decade or so to finally outgrow my small album and buy a bigger one, but I’ve been much more into it for the past two years or so.

My mother gave me the majority of her own collection, which greatly improved my own, especially because she had a lot of stamps from other countries, while mine were mostly from Germany. Also, when my stepfather’s sister and mother heared about me collecting stamps, they started to collect stamps for me – from Luxembourg. Now, I have a small album dedicated to stamps from Luxembourg, which is very nice.

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An Orchid from the long running series “flowers”

A few weeks ago I ordered a package of stamps from Bethel – an organization that gives work to people with special needs in the form of working with stamps, that you can send them or buy from them. I chose to buy the “BUMI” or “Bunte Mischung”, which is basically a little bit of everything: old, new, from Germany, Europe and all over the world, some already off their paper, most of them not. It’s really awesome! Like a treasure box full of surprises. I found a stamp worth 220 million Mark (former German currency) from the time before second world war during the huge inflation when money was worthless in Germany. I also found some missing stamps of a more recent series, that I really like or stamps from counties like Morocco, Dominikan Republic, Iran, Nigeria, South Afria, Burma, the Philipines, Egypt…

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Anniversary stamp for the city “Stadt Neunburg”

The only problem is… the smallest size of the BUMI box is 2,5kg (the big one is 4kg) and I underestimated a tiny bit just much much 2,5kg of stamps actually is. I tackled it this way: first I seperated the stamps still on paper with the ones already off and while doing so I already sorted out the ones I though looked old. This took me a few days already. Currently I’m in the process of the second step: get the stamps off their paper and this means washing thousands of stamps by hand. I’ve been at it for more than a week now and I’m still not finished. I get around 300-400 stamps off their paper per day. Considering I still have a fulltime job to attend, I’m think I’m pretty fast. I’m immediately sorting the washed stamps by country, but not putting any in an album just yet, god knws what’s still to come and I’ll probably need a few more albums anyway…

After finishing the washing, I think I’ll sort the stamps: first by country and second by picture. I’ll probably store the dublicates in a box somewhere. No need to have 30 stamps of the same kind in an album.

This entire process is a lot of work, but it’s fun and I think stamps are telling a story. They

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“Tag der Briegmarke – Liebesbriefe”= “Stamp day – Love letters”

change drastically depending on which time period they’re from and it’s interesting to see which country chooses which themes. I mean, I’m pretty sure Germany is the only country that will have stamps themed with the Germany Reunification. In a way stamps tell a lot about the history and culture of their country of origin and some theme are so weird it’s plain amazing. There’s nothing that’s not been a theme for stamps. Germany currently has a series running with retro cars. We also have a very long running series with flowers and one with buildings and while those are nice and ususually well done, they are on the less exciting side of the spectrum. We also have a series with baby animals, at least those are darn cute, unlike the countless of stamps dedicated to some (semi) important person whose 125th death anniversary needs to be celebrated apparently, or something. Germany postal services really love those… and on the other hand, german postcrossers have tried to get a postcrossing stamp published for years now with very little success – too many people and buildings, that need to be printed on stamps instead, apparenly. German postcrossers have sent over 5,7 million postcards and every single one had a

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this is the german national anthem written out on a regular stamp

stamp, therefore giving german postal services money in times when less and less people rely on traditional snail mail and perfer to use emails, what’s app, twitter and other electronic means of communication. Is it really that hard to give postcrossers something back?

Either way, I’m working on my 2,5kg of stamps and can’t wait to see the end result. =)

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Too many interests

I have way too many interests… and still waste my time onthe internet doing nothing most of the time.  You know, like writing a blog noboidy is going to read anyway about my crazy interests nobody is going to find interesting, even if he stumbles into it.

So, as I just mentioned, I have a lot of interests and I often find myself very much into something for a short period of time, before I move on to another. I just can’t do everything at the same time, but unfortunately I tend to neglect something, if I’m currently into something else.

Hold your horses, I’m a responsible person (at least I hope so), I will always care for my guinea 817625d7a583fdd7195478de3d4194a21835ca6cpigs as best as I possibly can and if that includes feeding my big girl 7 times a day again, like I used to when she was growing up very ill, than I will do that. Our pets are part of our lifes, but we are our pet’s entire life. These are living creatures depending on our care, no matter what happens I will always provide the best possible care for them. I love them to death, I wanted to have them for at least 10 years before I finally got them and they are certainly not just a phase of mine, but treasured pets and part of my family.

I’m talking more about stull like… movies, games, anime and manga, stamp collections – this is all stuff that I like. I also have a full time job. And guinea pigs, including a very high maintance individual, that needs special care and a special diet. I also love doing postcrossing, something that I really really need to pick up again. I’m into photography, but I need to get my lazy ass outside more to actually take photos of… well… something. I love to go to the zoo and basically love everything connected to animal care. I have a huge book about the green tree python and one about the genetics of corn snakes, but even though owning a snake is something I can imagine, I will probably never actually own a snake.

I also have books about strawberry poison-dart frogs, dwarf hamsters and box turles – I’m not going to own any of those for sure. I’m interested in it, though. I have to admit I hate learning oophaga_pumilio_blaubeiner_hifor exams, but I do love learning about the stuff that I like. This is what I loved about the time I went to University: I was able to do what I really wanted to do for the most part. I was able to attend a lecture about the origins of the universe, starting with the big bang all the way until the development of the first cell on earth, as part of my studies. No, I did not study astrophysics, I studied biology for teachers. How does that make any sense? I don’t know, but I do know the universe is finite and still expanding to this day, thanks to that lecture.

Surprinsingly, I’m not into US TV shows at all and even though I’m a pretty nerdy girl, I don’t like US comics.

I love Postcrossing

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I’m a postcrosser. I’ve been doing this for 4 years and I’ve send and received over 1100 postcard all across the globe. The combined distance of all my sent postcards equals 10 laps around the world.

Postcrossing is amazing. It’s a small piece of happiness every time a postcard arrives somewhere. You open your mailbox and you’re happy, because someone from across the globe wrote a few nice lines. This makes every day a good day.

Unfortunately, I had to take a break for about 8 or 9 months, because I had to save up

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A postcard from Russia

money to repay my student loan. Postcrossing in itself is free, but you have to pay for the postcard and the stamp and if you’re sending a lot, that means you’re also investing a lot. SInce I’m 100% free of debt now, I restarted postcrossing again and was immediately confronted with all the things I love and the things I don’t appreciate as much.

 

But what is postcrossing? It’s simple: you send and recieve postcards to and from random people all over the world. This is not meant to help finding pen pals, even though a lot of postcrossers have become pen pals one way or another.

  1. you register yourself with your address
  2. you can write up to 5 cards to random people the website pulls from a pool of addresses. Every card has a unique ID.
  3. when requesting an address, you agree to write that person, no matter where the card may go to. You have to send a card to this person.
  4. The person on the receiving end registers the ID and has the opportunity to say thanks or write a few sentences virtually.
  5. Your address goes into the pool of addresses and another random person will write a card to you.
  6. rinse and repeat – the more cards you’ve sent, the more you’re allowed to send. I’m currently allowed to send 31 cards at a time.

Sounds awesome, right? The community is, in general, really lovely. It’s full of nice people

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Bought in Austria during vacation, sent from Czech Republic on the way home back to Russia from a russian Postcrosser. Crazy!

and most postcrossers will try to send a card that you will like. Religious and political topics are not welcome, it’s usually some light smalltalk. A few stentences: “Hello, my name is. I’m doing this and that for a job. I have dog and two children. I love hiking and postcrossing!” It’s nice to hear from people all over the world and sometimes, you will find out some people thousands of miles away from you have very similar interests. I think it’s important not only to look at our differences, but at what we have in common.

 

Postcrossing also helps looking at the world more individually. It not just The Germans or The Mexicans or The Russians. Because you’re “meeting” so many people, you see so many handwritten little pieces of lives, I think it helps understanding the world as a place full of individual people with individual dreams, hopes and lives.

That’s the great part of porstcorssing. Well, that and you receive a lot of awesome postcards. Like I said, many people try to find a card that might make you happy and I’ve received the most amazing cards so far. Yeah, I’ve received 150 cards from Russia alone, but guess what? Some of my favorite cards are from Russia and they have these amazing triangular stamps. Most beautiful stamps ever! Super cool.

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A postcard from Taiwan

Then, there’s the … not so light and shiny side of postcrossing. Since many people are very considerate, other’s become greedy. It’s very common to list your interests and your favorite postcard designs, however you are not allowed to demand certain things. You can ask for them nicely, but not demand them. This rule was established, because some people started requesting certain types of cards, and ONLY certain types of cards in a very rude manner. Ever since this rule has been in effect, everything’s a bit nicer again.

 

People have weird tastes and sometimes in order to make someone else happy, you might have to do something you wouldn’t do otherwise. I don’t like to send blank postcards, that means, putting the card in an envelope and send it without writing on it. There are a lot of postcard collectors who like their cards in this state. Talking about collectors, even though they might not necessarily tell you, but some of them are very upset when they receive a dublicate or anything that does not fit into their collection and that’s… upsetting. Sometimes you just don’t have the card they’re asking for. Don’t try to mind too much, because there are a lot of people who will welcome your card with great joy. I always feel

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A postcard from the USA

like collectors are the most difficult to deal with, because they take Postcrossing very seriously. There are some very nice collectors, too, though!

When registering a postcard, you can write the sender a few sentences. It’s considered good manners to say at least a simple “thank you”. You can do that, even if you don’t speak any English. Not writing anything, aka a blank register, is considered very rude and is usually interpreted as: “I hate the card you’ve sent me.” Therefore, before you decide to leave the register text box blank, think twice.

And at last, I don’t think it’s fair to point out postcrossers of  lost postcards. We’re talking

about snail mail here. This means, postcards will get lost. I’ve even lost a card to the Netherlands. That’s a two and a half hour drive by car for me. It happens. There’s this habit a lot of postcrossers have of posting a list of postcard IDs belonging to lost postcards together with their country of destination and the username of the person who was supposed to receive the card. I think, this is one of the most rude things you can do.

 

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A postcard from China

Why are these people even doing this? The only reason I can think of is, because they’re assuming the person in question didn’t register the card on purpose and put the name of said person on their profile to show off the “bad” people who don’t register post cards. Dude, this happens to everyone! I’m assuming 99.9% of expired postcards (postcards expire after 360 days, this means, they can’t be registered anymore) just didn’t arrive. I found my name on such a list before. It hurt A LOT, because it wasn’t my fault. I always register all my cards, no matter what they look like, who sent them or where they’re from. I know I didn’t do it on purpose, but it felt like this person assumed I did. I felt very bad.

Even though, the good experiences heavily overweight the bad ones. Usually, you write a card to a nice profile and you get a nice card back from someone. That’s the standard, but we’re all humans and not all humans are equally open as others. Don’t get down, if something like this ever happens to you. Look forward to the next nice card that will be waiting in your mail box to brighten up your day. I once received a small white puzzle. The sender wrote her text on it and put it in an envelope to send it to me. Even customs

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A postcard from Mauritius

controlled it when it entered my country, because they apparently thought it was kind of weird. I’m usually against sending non-postcard items, but this was by far the coolest thing I ever received. By the way, there was a piece missing, I’m guessing it got lost when customs opened the envelope. However, that makes it even cooler, because it has a story to tell.

No matter what happens: just keep calm and continue postcrossing. It made my life so much brighter. A big thanks to all the postcrosser all over the world.

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A postcard fom the USA