“Here’s to postcards”!

The postcard’s success story began 150 years ago. Initially frowned upon as indecent, it quickly achieved world fame. Read more fascinating stories about the postcard.

Magalie Terre

Rich Content Section

9 different postcards on a washing line

The first postcard

On 1 October 1869, the first postcard – then called a “correspondence card” – was sent in Austria. It was very well received by the public. A million copies were sold within just four weeks of the launch. A year later, it was approved in Switzerland. The postcard is still connecting people around the world today.

Indecent communication

Before its launch, the postcard was seen as an indecent form of communication. Critics were concerned about preserving high moral standards. They were worried that servants would be able to read messages sent to their masters. And that the art of writing would be lost because of such brief messages. Just 20 words were permitted initially.

Save the glaciers!

High up on the Aletsch Glacier in the Bernese Alps is the world’s biggest postcard. It is 50 x 50 meters in size and comprises 125,000 messages about the climate from children all over the world. Their aim is to raise awareness about climate change and the threat to glaciers.

Secret messages

At one time lovers were prohibited from verbally expressing their affection in public. So they did so by writing secret messages on postcards. The way stamps were affixed was one of the methods used.

“I’m still alive”

During the Franco-Prussian war of 1870/1871, it was mainly field postcards that were used. This method of communication was the only way of keeping in touch with soldiers. People longed to read the most important words “I’m still alive”.

World trip

Christa from Germany, now 90, sent a postcard to her friend in 1972 while on holiday in the former Czechoslovakia. Unfortunately it never arrived. Instead the postcard went around the world several times – for 47 years. It was tracked down after a newspaper appeal. As the recipient had already died, the postcard landed once again in Christa’s letter box.

The postcard’s heyday

In 1913, the postcard enjoyed its golden age with 112 million being sent that year. With the progression of industrialization, more and more people learned to read and write – so there was greater need to communicate in writing.

The decline of the postcard

Is there still demand for postcards in the digital age? The number of postcards sent has continually fallen since the record-breaking year of 1913. Just a fraction of that figure is sent today. Digital postcards are more popular than ever though. Swiss Post’s PostCard Creator App was successfully launched in 2014 and is a resounding success story. 874,000 postcards were sent in the first year and that figure had reached 8.2 million by 2019.

When did you last write a postcard?
Beautiful postcards, colourful pens and other great products are available at the Postshop.

written by

Magalie Terre