Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Have you ever thought about postcards? Those simple rectangles of heavy paper that can be found in souvenir shops all over the world; falling out of magazines like snowflakes; stuffing your mailbox with information you don’t want about products or services you don’t need. You know, those often lovely and sometimes, breathtakingly beautiful works of art. Yeah, we never did either!!!
But think about it: once human beings learned to write, they must have shared that written word with others (I mean, wasn’t that the point?)! We know messages were found on the walls of caves; scrolls of papyrus; hand-bound books. We know that systems were established to deliver the words: around 3000BC, Egyptians used homing pigeons; by 2400BC the Pharaohs had established a courier service; the Persian King Cyrus the Great (c. 550BC) took it further by mandating every province in his kingdom organize the delivery of post to every single citizen!!! He even negotiated with neighboring countries to do the same!!! And then he built roads to facilitate the project!!! And then, he established stations along those roads where the couriers and their horses would “swap-out” to facilitate speedy delivery!!! Much later, in the first century, Augustus Caesar copied that plan when he created the Cursus Publicus thereby establishing a comprehensive mail service throughout the Roman Empire. By that time, world-wide messages were being delivered to individuals with some regularity. But not ‘til the 17th century was a global postal service operating efficiently with regulations and governmental fees.
So, OK, cards with messages have been created and posted by individuals since the beginning of postal services. But why did postcards endure? How come they became collectible? Why are they so popular? Even today–with email, texting, zooming and other forms of communication so ubiquitously available to every human on earth—postcards are still created, mass-produced, distributed, and purchased all over the world!!! Why?
Well, let’s see:
Who knew the simple postcard had so many uses?!? From memory preservation, to commerce, to fund raising, to home décor—that rectangle of eye-catching color is important to our lives.
Good to know!!!