At heart, I am a Stamp Collector. I know a lot about Stamps. It is a knowledge that I have acquired over fifty years, a lot of it by making mistakes. Of course I still continue to learn. The point is that I am not embarrassed to be in the company of other collectors. I know what I am talking about.
When it comes to Postcards…I am just not that confident. I am an amateur. And yet there is something to be said for “amateur”. The more I learn from Stamp Collecting, the more it becomes “obsessive”. And at some future point when I have dealt with my various Stamps Wants Lists, I will take a lot of pleasure in cheap mixtures of stamps from all over the world. While I dont have much time for exchanging stamps at the minute, it is something which can give a lot of pleasure.
After getting married in 1982, my wife (and later family) started travelling to many places here in Ireland. Initially I bought postcards as souvenirs from towns and villages that we believed we would visit only once in our lifetime. As it turns out, it would be difficult to name a place in Ireland that we have not visited several times.
I also intended that postcards could be used to help write up or merely compliment my stamp collection. This never actually happened as collecting postcards became a hobby in itself.
Ireland is a small country. Thirty-two counties of unequal size. Big….Cork, Kerry, Donegal and Tyrone. Small….Louth, Leitrim Carlow and Longford. The majority are somewhere in between. Typically an average-sized county will have one major town, maybe two or three smaller towns and some villages. Most towns seem to have a postcard on sale in a newsagents or bookshop. Not necessarily an up-to-date one.
I have some dusty postcards bought in the 1980s which have a distinct 1950s or 1960s feel to them. The cars in the street and the fashion.
There are essentially two types of postcard. The big name in Irish postcards is John Hinde. But there are other publishers us as Real Ireland. Typically most newsagents will have a range of John Hinde cards…often generic Irish…and one or two from the county. As a general rule, it is easier to get postcards in seaside towns and villages than inland towns. It is often the case that some public-spirited newsagents have arranged for a photograph to be taken and sell them as postcards. The major manufacturers have a minimum print run, which means that it is not economic for a newsagent to stock a local card.
Around ten years ago, John Hinde re-designed their postcards. All John Hinde postcards have a catalogue number on the back and typically a Hinde postcard will now carry a number such as “WX-07” indicating the postcard is of a view in County Wexford. Postcards of the six counties in “Northern Ireland” have a “NI number”.
As part of that re-design or re-launch, Hinde seem to have deleted a lot of cards. Two reasons, I think. One…postcards have been undermined by cell phones, texting and camera phones. Two…there is certainly a switch to generic cards.
Of course, for the committed Postcard Collector, it is all about the scarcity of the card, the place, the photographer and the publisher. For the committed Stamp Collector it is all about the stamp and the postmark.
From a personal perspective, I prefer Postcards not to be posted and to have no writing. Conversely I like to see a commemorative stamp genuinely used and the postcard to have a nice message.
In 1998, I got connected to the Internet and for a couple of years exchanged postcards with Americans. I have been watching USA and listening to USA for hours….daily….for more than fifty years. Places like Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles fascinate me.
I have only been to the United States once….a medium sized university city….and was disappointed that there was no postcard of the city.