Mail travel scars on cards

As I was talking to @ChristianJ in another thread, we came to the topic of marks the travel through the mail process leaves on cards… such as scratches, dents, cancellation stamps on the “wrong” side, maybe even getting torn a bit.
I personally love these little travel scars on cards, it makes them somehow more authentic to me. That’s why I upload every card I get myself, to show all the little damages. Here are some with ones that are a bit bigger:

I can’t find really torn up ones right now, but I’m sure you’ve got some stories about cards that got unique scratches or stamps. Also, do you like these little signs of their travel?

Note to mods: If this topic is too close to the “Damages cards” topic, please feel free to fuse them. :slight_smile:


I do exactly the same. Sometimes I like it (as they tell a story on their own), but when it comes to torn edges etc it makes me sad. I don’t mind the lighter forms at all, but everything more severe is sad.


Do you also upload your sent cards? I usually do that to preserve the picture. On the other hand, I’m a bit curious what my cards look like when they’re received, and very few people upload their own picture if I uploaded one before.

Also, I don’t think I ever got a card that had heavy damages, maybe Deutsche Post just straight throws them away. ^^ Or I got lucky. :slight_smile:


I can say that 90% of my cards from USA have little damage because of postal machine


You got lucky! They will put it in a plastic bag when it happens…

Yes, many people don’t scan the cards, so I prefer to upload it beforehand. Then the person receiving my card has the option to keep it or add his/her own scan/photo.

I personally don’t mind receiving a card with minor scratch and dent, 'cause how it got there is the worthier part. So I usually upload the arrival scan of the card. (I also do departure scan before I send any cards)

But not all people share this belief. Some people got upset when I replaced their pristine card image with a scuffed one. (Similarly, someone also complained receiving a card that was damaged in transit and thus differs from what I’ve scanned)

I really don’t understand, should the postcard image depict what sender expects recipient to see, or show what recipient actually gets (“as-is”)?

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That is the perfect description for those! When I checked for examples recently, a sI was also posting to the other thread, I was surprised how few of them actually have marks - I’ll have another looks and add some pictures later. Especially the rubbing marks seem to be in the same place every time so it looks like that very specific type of machinery causes this damage. Todays’ arrivals are in tip-top condition though.

Regarding the scans: if I went to the effort of adding my own departure scan (and I always do) I would probably be disappointed to have it removed in favour of a damaged one.

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I bought some postcard stickers to put on the back of some photos I had developed, to use my own photos as postcards. Unfortunately normal photos are somewhat sensitive, so some of them got scratched:

The others I sent from that batch weren’t updated by the recipients, but feature the photos I took before sending (so I don’t know if they got scratched).

I enjoy “travel scars”; although they do mar the original image, they are a visual representation of the card’s journey of thousands of miles. And sometimes, like in the case of DE-9751758, sent to me by the wonderful @Eckhardt, the marks even enhance the image with additional meaning, such as the cartoonish “ZOOM!” marks on this little mouse who sped through the machines!:

On the subject of uploading my outgoing cards, I do it when I remember, which is…uncommon for me. :sweat_smile: I try to remember to do it, as I know not every recipient will be able to do so upon arrival, but I am usually so excited to set out my cards for pickup that I completely forget before my mailman shows up. But it didn’t occur to me that the recipient’s uploaded image would offer the benefit of showing the travel scars!


I’m fine with travel scars, but this one face cancellation made me really sad :cry: It was my very first postcard (before Postcrossing) from my friend who offered to choose from her cards. I liked it much and was going to put it under plexiglass on my table. What’s even more upsetting, I tried to erase the postmark but only made it worse.


Oh, that’s quite the face cancellation. Sorry. :face_with_hand_over_mouth: :sweat_smile:
Seriously, that’s an awfully unfortunate place to stamp it. I wonder if they do it by hand or machine, meaning, if a human or a machine chose that location for the cancellation…


Looks like some sort of diving helmet (just as Sandy from Spongebob wears!). The kitty really wants to catch that fish! I think it’s really cute.


I usually don’t mind the scars, I think they are part of the card’s story. I also find the cancellation stamps on the wrong side quite funny (like last week I received a card with 3 cancellations stamps and none of them were where they should have been :sweat_smile:). However, this one made me sad as the stamp covers the beautiful original first day cancellation stamp. Fortunately this was an official card and the sender had uploaded the picture before sending so we can see it on the gallery like it should be.


I would be disappointed in this case as well…

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Lately I had a similar incident. They cancelled the wrong stamp on my last maxicard from Australia.

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That has happened to me more than once (with received cards).

I do not like “travel scars” because to me it reflects poor processing or untuned machinery. It is like if someone were beaten up on their way to my house…I would want to sympathize and give them a cup of tea (or something stronger), but would I want to celebrate their bruises? Probably not.


I have to say I find this hilarious! What makes it even funnier is that also the fish has a circle around it. How is it even possible? Deliberate? I’m sorry you were upset with this and I understand it. Personally, however, I quite like it.

Yes, this has also happened to me, however, thematically it kind of fits… I will try to upload an image of it later, as it’s quite interesting.

Luckily, the scratches aren’t usually unbearable, but this one was quite sad. I really like the painting and unfortunately these white scars are not adding to its charm. Still, I’m lucky I can still see what is going on.

Well said! Before new processing machines the cards arrived usually in good condition. Nowadays it sometimes feels those white marks are more a rule than an exception.

// Edited to combine both my posts.

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Ideally I like cards arriving in good condition, but I don’t mind minor scratches (they are so common nowadays). Sometimes their location on the card is a bit annoying, but other times they’ve looked like a part of the picture. In this card the scratches are blue, so at first it seemed the female artist had blue accessories and it kind of looks good. (Now I noticed there is also that orange bar code on the left, but perfectly lined up with the image).

When a card arrives bent and with wrinkles, I hope the sender has already uploaded the image, so they don’t see how badly the card has suffered on its way.


over the years i received a handful of cards in a plastic bag due to being damaged while traveling. this was my very first one:


Omg! Same here!! We actually share so many similarities haha! Unfortunately, I can’t see how my official Postcrossing cards reach their destinations, which is why I love to send postcards to my own address and ask my real-life friends to show me pictures of my postcards when they receive them (and I know that I sound super annoying lol). I just want to see what my card looks like after a rough few days circling around the world!

Haha omg I LOVE that!! I get that we’re probably very different, but that’s a cool postmark and it’s perfectly centred on the head as well… Also whyyy erasing it :laughing: My philosophy is to keep the cards as they come to me – altering them afterwards would be like erasing the adventure they went on!

That’s machine cancellation for you! You can recognise it by the little wavy lines on the right hand side, which increase the probabilities of some ink ending up on the stamps… Russian post offices generally prefer hand stamped postmarks, but I guess that there are machines for larger cities.

Ok, something about me: as you can tell, I like these “travel scars”, but my tastes are kind of specific:

(1) The postmark on the front needs to have a reason to be there: Many post offices stamp on the front side of the card as well, and I’m perfectly fine with that. I like these extra decorations. However, I don’t like when sorting machines just stamp the image instead of the actual postage stamps – that’s messier and the stamps on the back won’t be postmarked.

(2) Stamps always need to be postmarked: If I receive a super well-travelled postcard, with the orange / black lines and everything, but the stamps are immaculate… Then that’s not gonna be satisfying at all! Stamps need to bear signs of cancellation, otherwise it’s just super boring!

(3) Hand stamps need to be legible: I’m talking about countries where machine processing isn’t a thing, i.e. Russia, China, etc. Fortunately, both Russian and Chinese postmarks are super legible and beautiful to look at. However, some countries (Thailand, India, the Philippines…) seem to have very old rubber stamps, which often lead to unholy, smudgy blobs of ink. I also hate when you can tell that the same spot has been stamped over twice, because there’s never a perfect overlap and it’s like a trippy double vision or something!

(4) Scratches are ok, but there’s a limit to everything: Obviously, I don’t want to receive a postcard that’s been brutally torn into four parts :sweat_smile: There’s a difference between some cool scars and a brutal war wound! The same for people – some scars make you look cool and they’re always something you can talk about at parties… But when there are two chunks of you lying on the ground… well, that wouldn’t be too neat aha! (Sorry for the graphic content :stuck_out_tongue:)