Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Old Postcard Wednesday--vintage union postale universelle postcard

For background about, and a 1910 photo of, the recipient of this postcard see my previous post about my paternal grandmother, Lydia. As noted there, she immigrated from Finland to Canada where she must have worked in some capacity at Crean Hill (now a ghost town). This postcard predates her marriage to my grandfather in Duluth, Minnesota, around 1913. I ran a translation program (a good one: From Language to Language) on the text in the message, but not knowing the Finnish language I'm unsure of individual letters in some of the words. Roughly, though, here's a glimpse into what Lydia's relative (quite possibly a sister) wrote to her from their hometown of Kauhava, Finland:

Jaljin regards from the native country plate with everybody lamme tervenna. Coming with sprouts Jarhainta for a winter wishes luck.

It doesn't get much more international than this vintage postcard proclaiming the
Union postale universelle, or the Universal Postal Union. The languages used in the description are Italian, German, French, Finnish, Swedish, and Russian. The stamps appear to be Russian. It was mailed from Finland to Canada to a girl who later crossed the border into the United States, where she became a citizen.

I had no idea there was a Universal Postal Union and am absolutely fascinated by what I've found out about this important organization. There's nothing I could tell you or copy to this post that would be nearly as enlightening as simply providing you with the link to the video offered by the UPU. (Unfortunately, there isn't a way to easily embed the video here in my post.)

The Universal Postal Union (click here for official website) was established in Berne, Switzerland in 1874. Below is a photo of the UPU Monument in Berne (1909), which was adopted as the official logo of the organization:

Beautiful, isn't it?



Anonymous said...

Fascinating info, I had never heard or the UPU (and I worked for the USPS for a short time) and YES! It is beautiful! thanks for finding the photo of the monument and including it in your post.

Darlene said...

Omigosh! I saw that monument in Bern, Switzerland and had no idea what it depicted. It's exciting to see it on your post and learn of it's origin.

Looking to the Stars said...

Lydia, this is sooo cool! I loved the postcard and I never knew UPU existed till now. Thanks, I loved learning about them. The picture is very beautiful. Thanks for sharing

The Acolyte Tao said...

That's pretty cool, last year in 11th grade in my European History class a senior had brought in all these old postcards that were french/american/german propaganda postages from WWI because his great grandfather had fought in it and he sent all those letters back to this family. Old postage's are pretty neat. I collect coins every now and then for the historical sense of them, from the Roman Empire to the last year of the USSR, I just love it.

Steve Morozumi said...

thanks for the info on the UPU! never heard of it, yet it's vital to global communications. started watching the video. it's actually very well done and interesting! coolness!

have an awesome day! :D

-Steve @ fluxlife

Erin said...

I love these artifacts!

dmarks said...

They liked to do a lot of bridge postcards like this back then.

Buddha said...

You are keeping busy.
It is hard to keep up with you!
I did not know they had colored post cards then :)
Very beautiful indeed!
Be Loved!

Lydia said...

@Mibsy- That's funny that you worked at USPS and didn't know about the UPU. It makes the rest of us feel better about being clueless that this organization existed. ;)

@Darlene- That is so interesting that you actually have seen the monument. Glad you enjoyed hearing more about it.

@Looking to the Stars- I'm really glad you enjoyed the post so much. It turned out being one of my favorite Old Postcard Wednesdays!

@Acolyte Tao- The student who had those historic postcards most likely owns something of value. There are collectors who would love 'em, and museums too.
Likewise, your fantastic-sounding coin collection is a treasure. It's very cool that you are collecting them and it would be great to see photos at your blog!

@Steve- I agree that the video is really well done, surprisingly so for an "industrial" kind of video. I'm responding late tonight, so will wish you a good day tomorrow!

@Erin- Good! I do too. I never started out with an intention to collect these. Most belonged to my gmother and they came to me after my mother died in 2000. I *almost* gave them to my neighbor to sell on ebay but decided against it, and then I started my blog last year and they found their rightful place in the blogosphere.

There are some really great postcard blogs out there. DMarks has some of the best I've seen!

@DMarks- Do you think that is because they still considered bridges to be marvels of human design? Just wondering....

@Buddha- You know what? I'm leaving this Wed. postcard here at least overnight. I'm really tired and this one can be a show-off for a little while longer! :)

Melinda said...


One of the things I appreciate most about your blog are the unexpected little treasures you seem to find. That postcard (and the explanation) were wonderful. Thank you!


Lydia said...

@Melinda- Your expression of appreciation meant so much to me today. Thank YOU!

Lisa Allender said...

I lOVE these POst Card Blog-things! So unique and clever and touching.......
What would we out here in the Blogosphere, do without you, Lydia??

Lydia said...

@Lisa- I'm on my way over to your blog to see how your recovery from surgery is coming along. :)
There are quite a few blogs showing them and a few blogs are exclusively postcard blogs, so I'm not that important. But I'm really glad that you like mine and the way I present them.

Marie Reed said...

I adore how you present your images too! I'm such a vintage-aholic!

Marie Reed said...

I'll soooo be stalking you every Wednesday too!

Lydia said...

@Marie Reed- Your enthusiasm for things vintage is really special. Even if I didn't appreciate them your blog would change me into a fan immediately. And our cats are friends...... :)

naomi dagen bloom said...

Flying back to NYC from Portland, I was reading 2/6/09 NY Times. And there, on front of "Weekend Arts" section was headline "Main Street Postcards as Muse."

Thought of you. Three color, one black and white cards from the collection of the Walker Evans, 20th century photographer who began collecting these in grade school. Exhibit of them at Metropolitan Museum through May 25. Many images at


Lydia said...

@Naomi- I thought you were in Portland through February.....when I read in your post how sick you all were feeling I thought I'd try to catch you at the end of your stay. Next time!
I so appreciate your telling me about the exhibit. I will *definitely* look at the article and see if there's possibly a virtual tour at the museum.
I hope home looks good to you after so long a time away.

Alphonsina said...

Hi! Here is an exact translation of your card:
"Many greetings from your homeland, we are all being healthy. Best of luck now as the winter arrives. Your father J. Laitamäki"
It's written in an old-fashioned way, so translation with a program can be partly difficult.
Best wishes from Finland!



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