The World On My Doorstep

An ever-expanding postcard blog

An Island of Postcards

Having been blogging now for over a year about all the wonderful postcards I receive, it seems appropriate that I should do a small feature on the ones I sendAs most of you probably know, I am one of only a handful of postcrossers on the tiny island of Guernsey, situated in the British Channel and the second largest of the Channel Islands. The isle itself is 24 square miles and is famous for its beautiful cliffs, sunny beaches and relaxed atmosphere. It is perhaps no surprise then that tourism is one of its main industries. The population of Guernsey hovers at only about 65,000 but with around 250,000 tourists flocking to the island every year, summer time can seem much busier! As such, it is probably expected that most of these visitors might want to send little souvenirs to their friends/families and what better way to do that than a postcard? But what cards does this tiny island really have to offer?

As an avid postcrosser, I genuinely try to match every card I send to the recipient’s profile. If they don’t have much written, then I’ll hover over to their favourites and see what I can find there. With such a high amount of tourists here, I can usually find something for everyone.

A satellite image of Guernsey shown on a postcard.

A satellite image of Guernsey shown on a postcard.

Occasionally you find a real gem of a postcard. This one shows a vintage map of Guernsey in 1832 with all the parishes outlined. I have only ever found one copy of this card and it's my favourite one I've ever come across.

Occasionally you find a real gem of a postcard. This one shows a vintage map of Guernsey in 1832 with all the parishes outlined. I have only ever found one copy of this card and it’s my favourite one I’ve ever come across.

The General Tourist Card

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Perhaps the most popular type of cards I send tend to be ‘tourist’ cards – view cards of places and things unique to the island. There are hundreds of these on the island, some seemingly old stock, date back to the 1980s. I don’t buy those often though, because the pictures are utterly bizarre at best and very grainy at worst.

An example of a particularly odd retro Guernsey postcard, readily available at many newsagents.

An example of a particularly odd retro Guernsey postcard, readily available at many newsagents.

Aside from these cards though, there is an enormous selection of more modern cards which can be bought in almost any shop in Guernsey. In general, these tend to be multiview, with “Guernsey” written across the base – something which many postcrossers adore. There definitely is something special about being able to display a card from a ‘rare’ country and have everyone know where it’s from. Usually these cards show places on the island – beaches, the sea, Castle Cornet and Saint Peter Port (the quaint capital) being common. In addition, typical Guernsey animals, especially the Guernsey cow, famous worldwide for its milk, make frequent appearances. For the most part, these cards are the usual postcard size, but square ones are easy to find and if you’re willing to spend a little more, the beautiful ‘Guernsey panorama’ cards are a great buy – something I love sending friends when they least expect it!

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An example of one of the gorgeous "Guernsey panorama" cards.

An example of one of the gorgeous “Guernsey panorama” cards.

A Trip To The Museum

postcards2_3A quick trip to any of Guernsey’s museums will see you with a new selection of postcards to choose from – issued by the Guernsey National Trust. I have a special love in my heart for these as they are often really beautiful and at the grand price of 10p, are such a bargain! Whenever I see a new one I haven’t sent yet, I just have to buy them and they always contain a little information on the back about the image on the front.

A beautiful watercolour postcard of Castle Cornet before the Keep was destroyed by lightning in the 1600s.

A beautiful watercolour postcard of Castle Cornet before the Keep was destroyed by lightning in the 1600s.

At a couple of the museums, I have also come across some fantastic “Guernsey patois” postcards which exhibit some phrases in the native language of the island. Although Patois is almost extinct now as a language, it is still spoken by some people in more remote areas and all the place names here look like a strange variant of French – no surprise, considering Patois derives from an ancient Norman dialect.

A Guernsey Patois card, again showing the "Guernsey Cow".

A Guernsey Patois card, again showing the “Guernsey Cow”.

Vintage Cards

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One of the wonderful things about Guernsey’s touristic nature is that it is always possible to find a card to suit everyone – even if they date back 50 years! Places such as Guernsey’s “Victorian Shop” (a National Trust shop just off the beaten track in Saint Peter Port) and other more obscure stores also sell vintage postcards and when I find these, I swoop on them like a blood-thirsty mosquito… and then never find the ‘right’ person to send my perfect little window to the past to! But, when I do feel like parting with them, they are always much appreciated!

Saint Peter's Church in Saint Peter Port. No idea when this card dates from but I love it so much that it is hung above my stairs permanently!

Saint Peter’s Church in Saint Peter Port. No idea when this card dates from but I love it so much that it is hung above my stairs permanently!

The Guernsey Teddy

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Some people are always going to love cards with that extra-special something that makes them a true gold nugget in a collector’s treasure trove and Guernsey Teddy cards can do just that. A true quirk to the Guernsey tourism industry is the Guernsey Teddy souvenir. These little bears are made in Guernsey and are based on a traditional style but are so loved that they feature in books, on postcards, on calendars… just about anything you can imagine, you can probably find a ‘teddy’ edition, but aren’t they adorable? And these postcards just tell stories of all their adventures.postcards4

“Mail A Guernsey…”

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I saved the best until last. These bad boys just crack me up every time! They only came into issue this year (2013) by the Guernsey tourist board (probably to bring in a new ‘genre’ of card and to brighten up the shop walls) and bring me so much joy! I have no idea where the idea came from or who thought them up, but they are just genius and have been much appreciated by many friends! The idea is that you can cut out the animal shape and slot it together (although I don’t know if anyone has actually done this) and create your own miniature Guernsey creature. The cards themselves include: Golden Goats (common in Guernsey), lobsters (which inhabit our rocky coasts), Guernsey cows (whose milk is practically worshiped on island), donkeys (the national animal) and puffins (which breed just off our shores) – the animals for which Guernsey is most famous for (supposedly). With these cards (which are a little more expensive, but well worth the price) you can literally have a little bit of Guernsey in your home!

An example showing the back of a "Mail A..." postcard. Although there isn't much writing space, the animal is depicted on both sides for a 'realistic' looking final piece, should you want to slot it together.

An example showing the back of a “Mail A…” postcard. Although there isn’t much writing space, the animal is depicted on both sides for a ‘realistic’ looking final piece, should you want to slot it together.

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Guernsey Post

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A Guernsey postbox as shown on a postcard

So, when I post these cards, where do they go? What do they look like when they arrive? Well, our postboxes here are blue (as shown above) and mail goes via the UK mainland. To send a card costs me 63p, unless it is going to the UK when it is only 55p. Stamps here are amazing. I have never seen so many wonderful stamps and everywhere sells them. Bigger shops will send the current ones – new designs are issued all the time, but smaller places sell vintage stamps in packets making up the price from smaller denominations which I love! I can’t get enough of the stamps here, they’re so cool!

The current Guernsey 'Europa' stamps.

The current Guernsey ‘Europa’ stamps.

If the recipient of my card collects stamps, I’ll always see if I can find something unique for their collection – and it’s never difficult! The post office staff are always friendly and flick through their books for me to find the perfect stamps. It is honestly a wonderful experience. Once the card has been posted, it is postmarked on island before beginning its epic journey across the world.

An example of the postmarks on a card I sent to a German postcrosser who was kind enough to post the image online.

An example of the postmarks on a card I sent to a German postcrosser who was kind enough to post the image online.

Overall, Guernsey is a fantastic little island with a wonderful postal and philatelic history which I just love being a part of. The stamps and cards available always put a smile on my face and I’m not even the buyer! So I hope this little article might just warm you up to the idea of visiting the country – even if only to send some mail!

Britain's oldest functioning postbox as shown on a postcard. Situated on Union Street, Saint Peter Port, this box is the only one on the island which is not blue and dates back to 1853. When I post these cards, I like to post them in this box, just for added effect!

Britain’s oldest functioning postbox as shown on a postcard. Situated on Union Street, Saint Peter Port, this box is the only one on the island which is not blue and dates back to 1853. When I post these cards, I like to post them in this box, just for added effect!


3 responses to “An Island of Postcards

  1. whythisbox says:

    Those goat & lobster cards are absolute gems! 🙂 so cute!!

  2. Rosarosae says:

    Just …what I was looking for from Guernsey ! Right now I take note your e-mail to ask you about swap. Only hope be able to offer any interesting to you. Cross my fingers !

  3. Dennie says:

    Love the goat & lobster cards 🙂 I’ve got the bear from Canada few month ago 🙂

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