Here we have a series of galleries displaying one QSL card from each of the 260 DXCC
countries that I have worked on the HF amateur bands since 1993. ‘Radio Hams’ have
been exchanging cards (called QSL cards) since the early days of radio and such an
exchange was considered the ultimate courtesy. Cards are exchanged in two ways. Either
the operators simply send direct or they use a central collection bureau, if available.
If sending cards ‘direct’, it is considered polite to include some form of reimbursement.
But this was to change when the UPU introduced an expiry date on IRCs. I cannot remember the date in question. Thereafter, IRCs were issued on a yearly basis … that is, ALL IRCs would be simultaneously issued on July 1. Those issued in 2009 for instance would expire on December 31 2012, thus allowing those in circulation to be used up. Meanwhile, those since published on July 1 2012 would be useable up until December 31 2015. This expiry feature became unpopular with Radio Hams. The US Postal
Service discontinued sales of IRCs on 27 January 2013 due to declining demand. Britain's
Royal Mail ceased to sell IRCs from 18 February 2012, citing minimal sales and claiming
that the average post office sold less than one IRC per year. This decline in popularity
was more than likely due to the advent of the Internet which also brought about a
change in the way an increasing number of Radio Hams dealt with ‘QSLing’. A system
known a eQSL was introduced where operators would send each other an image of their
QSL card. It doesn’t take much to realise that this system made it relatively simple
for some unscrupulous individuals to ‘fake’ QSLs. This has largely been superceded
by a system known as Logbook of The World or LoTW. This is essentially a world-