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A most delightful trip (not)

Tuesday 10 January 2012

A hundred years ago the postcard was a favoured medium for quick informal messaging. The limited space, and the idea of quick communication, encouraged a short, informal writing style​—​having a great time, wish you were here. Perhaps the fact that somebody bought and posted a card said as much as the words written on the back.

Randomly selected samples of these ephemeral mess­ages have survived. Most of them are boring, but there are some quirky gems, with weird and delightful images on the front, and won­der­ful stamps, captions, and postmarks on the back. Not to mention the mess­ages written on them: profound or trivial, original or formulaic, terse or turgid.

The back of a postcard sent from Cuba to the USA. It was postmarked in Santiago De Cuba on 12 March 1911, and backstamped in Reading, Pennsylvania, on 17 March.

I like this example. On the back, a typically cryptic message, ad­orned with an exotic stamp and a collection of postmarks. On the front, a photo of a lighthouse at Guantánamo Bay​—​then, as now, a possession of the United States of America.

With my resolution for 2010 in mind, I have to say I am not so keen to visit this lighthouse (which still survives, in poor con­dit­ion). Knowing what happened to Lakhdar Boumediene and many others would spoil the visit.

filed under Lighthouses + Society

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