Mail travel scars on cards

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.

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:)


Aw. I also think it’s cool, but I can understand being so disappointed in that circumstance. Hopefully one day you’ll learn to love it. :slight_smile:

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Yes… I can’t help being disappointed if the stamps are not cancelled. :frowning_face: Fortunately it is rarer when cards come from abroad. However… It is so sad to know many cards sent by me have quite likely disappointed many! I know that Finnish Post cancels very rarely postcards and letters. Some fail to be stamped during the process and some are never even tried to be cancelled because of the time restrictions. It is a disgrace. Some have estimated only shocking 10% get cancelled. Anyway it’s certainly an exception to get a cancelled mail.

The only solution is to go to the the post office to get the cards cancelled by hand. I have done it sometimes if I got lots of mail going out at the same time. However, now with the virus I very rarely visit the center. I have tried to accept that I cannot control what happens with my mail. I just hope for the best.

Worse the not cancelled stamps (I don’t mind it too much) is when they are cancelled with a pen! That’s a shame! :see_no_evil:


Postcard to me: CN-2816957 was damaged badly during its travel from :cn: to :czech_republic:. The scan of sender shows it was okay when he/she sent it, but it travelled for long and my scan (below) doesn’t show it was probably in some wet enviroment, as the ink based text is smudged, hardly readable and all together is somehow creased, bit torn… but it happens! I think it is part of the fun of :postcrossing:

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As long as the picture is not totally ruined I don’t mind scuffs and rub marks. I love the thought of my card wizzing through the post machines. I do wonder how many fall out and become expired postcards.

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That’s actually quite true! I have no idea what’s happening with all the Nordic countries, to be honest… Even Norwegian postcards are often cancellation-less… Once I sent myself 3 postcards from Norway (Tromsø and those places further up north), and two of them had no postmark at all!

Yeah, I hate those haha, I think the United Kingdom is the worst offender! I’m lucky to live next to a post office where those horrible pens are never used – if a postcard escapes the cancellation machine, it gets a very neat handstamp!

It doesn’t even look that bad! Notice that little section on the left – many postcards from China are actually entry tickets (to museums or parks or whatever), and they often have one part that can be torn off, just like a normal ticket! And you’re left with a perfectly sendable postcard. Many users send the whole thing though, which is why these postcards are often bigger than average.

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Interesting, I was confused what is that part for! Ehhm, as I said, it actually is much worse than scan shows! Especially backside is especially bad. I think I had to use support for ID for first time for this postcard.

@Axolotl_, @Cassiopheia, @CorvusCorax, @ChristianJ, @saintursula, thank you for your answers! I feel kinda better after sharing it, only sorry for my clumsy attempt to erase the postmark. At least this was a lesson.

I didn’t know that the waves are sign of machine cancellation, it’s very interesting. And now I’m relieved that it wasn’t some supervillain who despises postcards :rofl: All this time I tried to justify the imaginary postal worker, imagining how tired he must be. I should have thought of this earlier. Even more, I only now noticed that the zip code belongs to our automated sorting center which stamps my outgoing postcards (because I put them into street mailboxes instead of going to the post office), while my incoming postcards should be stamped manually at my post office. What a mysterious postmark.


I didn’t know that! I thought that automated sorting centres were rare in Russia, but all it takes is just to drop the cards into street mailboxes? By the way, postmarks aren’t really travel scars… I’m considering opening a thread where we can talk about postmarks, so that we don’t fill this discussion with an unrelated topic?

PS: Don’t worry about your “clumsy” attempt! We can’t really see that an eraser has been used on that card, and that’s all that matters!

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Some postcards do not have cancellations on them.

You can see my reply a few posts above. It is how it happens. However, why it happens? Because the management couldn’t care less about the letter mail.

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Missing postmarks is wrong but I’m not disappointed at all. From my 44 received cards I found 4 without cancellation postmarks. Though it’s too little to think about statistics. Now I’m getting interested in postmarks.

@CorvusCorax, I got 4 of 5 Finnish postcards (my most beloved country :heart:) postmarked, seems I’m lucky :slight_smile: The postmark resembles our machine cancellation with waves.

I’ve never seen pen cancellation and would be interested to receive it, I find it something old-fashioned :face_with_monocle: Though maybe I’ll change my mind when I get bored of it.

@ChristianJ, I fear I might achieve “Offtopic Mastery” badge, so I’m just answering and won’t continue :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

postbot taught me to hide details

I don’t know much about how Russian Post works (now I’d like to learn more). As I get it, in St. Petersburg mail from street mailboxes is collected every night and headed directly to the automated sorting center. At local offices operators cancel stamps manually, and then they forward mail also to the automated sorting center, that’s why it can be slower. By the way, in our largest museum the Hermitage there is a special post office with its own museum-shaped postmark. I sent some postcards from there, the postmark was dated few days after I dropped postcards into mailbox. (However, I would send postcards from there all the time if I didn’t have to buy a ticket to get inside.)


A “pen cancellation” is simply a slash drawn across or on the stamp with a ballpoint or felt-tip pen. It could easily be mistaken for a stamp that someone’s child accidentally got their hands on. It is absolutely not “old fashioned” and has nothing to do with old-style hand-cancelled stamps.

Don’t worry, if you stay with Postcrossing long enough you will get your share of these! :grinning:


Yes! Big black Sharpie scribble - Canada seems to be the worst for that.

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Since I noticed that everyone is talking about postmarks, I decided to open a new thread where we can properly discuss them, as they’re not really “travel scars”. Click here! → “Your country’s postmarks and cancellations”

We can keep talking about real travel scars here :wink:

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This is … some kind of a stamp but I still consider it a “scar” since it doesn’t seem to be a cancellation stamp and I’m not sure where it came from, I guess transfer from something on top of it.

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