If you engage in Postcrossing or swab-bottery, you see a lot of user profiles with some very specific postcard wishes. If you have had the same experience I have in shopping locally for postcards, you have found that the things are very difficult to come by! I have found one shop in my community that has a spinner rack with a very small, unsatisfying & unchanging selection of local scenes. The same holds true in the city where I work. That leaves me popping into every drug store & gas station when I am on a little road trip–but even my successes here only satisfy those who are hoping for “touristy” postcards.
To make a long story slightly less long, the easiest place to find postcards is the internet. And by “the internet,” I suppose I mean Amazon. Some great boxed sets out there (the only possible drawback, outside of the community harms in not shopping locally, is that at some point all of us Postcrossing types may already familiar with every postcard we receive). Of course, when you buy something from Amazon, they start showing you every single item in their stock which is anything like what you have purchased.
And THAT is exactly how I found the “We Don’t Want it, YOU Take it” Random Variety ‘Assortement’ of Postcards. My name for it, not theirs–well, except for that spelling error. This particular set of 100, priced at $19.98 and offered by Postcard Fair via Amazon, currently carries a rating of 4.5 stars out of 7 user reviews. And there ARE some good things to be said! Low overall price, nice thick card stock, high-quality printing, and certainly some themes I have seen requested in user profiles (such as cats, books, coffee, food, and maps).
I mean, 100 cards for $19.98, what could go wrong? That’s 20 cents a card. Well, 20 cents a card, unless there are cards you just can’t imagine using.
Can you spot the dungeon? Can you spot the Peeping Tom (he can spot you!)?
I’m not inclined to send someone a dungeon card, and I’m not inclined to send someone a Peeping Tom card. A man kissing a horse? No. And how about the majority of the cards in this photo, depicting colorful dancers in some sort of cultural festival? Well, how about them? Do YOU know what this event is, or where it was held? Apparently Postcard Fair does not! There is absolutely no caption given, no context, not so much as a photographer credit.
The majority of the cards in this set offer no information of any kind, and certainly never a photographer or artist attribution.
One thing to write about, when you are writing to a complete stranger (or anyone else, really), is the thing that is depicted on the postcard you have chosen for them. When I receive a postcard, I want to know about the image. What does the photo depict? Where was it taken? Who took the photo (if I like it, I sometimes look up that person’s other work)?
I don’t want cards of a very specific event, that give absolutely no information. It’s also apparent that Postcard Fair didn’t want them either: they sent me every single one of their “Dancing Set of 10.”
Okay, a hundred cards, minus specific events with no attribution, minus ugly art, dull cards, uncomfortable images… let’s say I will happily (reasonably happily) use a third of the cards, and then do the math again: $19.98, for 33 postcards, that is about 61 cents a card. More expensive than some, cheaper than others. Each of those “some” and “others” all being cards I would rather choose for myself & send, of course.
I find myself hoping for a few swap-bot specialty trades: something like “Pick 10 cards you want out of your home, stuff them into an envelope, and send them to a partner.” The recipient then waits for the next such swap, puts the cards into a fresh envelope, and sends them to the next link in the chain. At some point, the original sender will likely get those very same cards back in the mail. Would you like to sign up for that?
Have you ever purchased one of these mystery assortments, or any similar? Please share your experience!