Sunday, November 12, 2017

1908 postcard exchange between Belgium and Cuba

Here's the front and back of a postcard that was sent from Antwerp, Belgium, to Havana, Cuba. Note that the single red stamp has been applied so that it starts on the back but folds over to the front. The postmark states the following:
Anvers is the French word for Antwerp. My guess is that the date for this postmark is September 24, 1908. That leaves the "9-10" undeciphered by me. I have seen similar postmarks from this Belgian era that also have hyphenated consecutive numbers, including this one and this one. My guess is that it's some sort of regional office designation, but that could be way off.1

The postcard image features the "skyline" of Antwerp, with the Cathedral of Our Lady dominating the view. The cathedral dates to 1352, contains a 14,000-pound bell installed in 1507, and is the burial site of, among many other notables, painter Jan Wildens.

The correspondence — or briefwisseling2 — on the back of the postcard is written in a tiny cursive handwriting, but it's in English, so here's my stab at transcribing it:
Mr. Franco,
I accept your offer for the exchange of postcards. I already have from Habana: Obispo street; — Avenida de Marti; — Castle of Chorrera3, — Dwelling house of the Dos Hermanas estate; — Central Park; — Francisco Square; — Clerk Association Building; — Daily Marina Building; — City Jail. —
Yours faithfully,
F. Vorlab. [?]
It's nice to see that postcard swaps and postcard collecting were in full swing in 1908. Those folks would have loved Postcrossing!

1. Also, in researching this postmark, I discovered the Wikipedia page for coded postal obliterators, which I did not know were a thing.
2. Briefwisseling, which is Dutch, is one of my new favorite words. Its most precise translation, according to Google, is "exchange of letters."
3. Castle of Chorrera could refer to TorreĆ³n de la Chorrera.

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