19 Dec 2012
If my memory serves me right, the first ever QSL card came from Radio Nederland like the one on the left which had a flamingo and a windmill on it. It was for reception on my shortwave crystal set. Subsequently I got several more cards using the crystal set and it became quite a challenge to see how many countries I could confirm with QSLs using the crystal set. Although I heard stations worldwide - genuinely worldwide, not via relays - such as Radio Australia, All India Radio and Radio Havana, I don't think I ever managed any cards for crystal set reception beyond Europe. My first ever amateur card was from a station in London that I copied on 28MHz in South Devon. I cannot remember the callsign sadly, but probably still have the card somewhere.The first card for a 2-way QSO was from my mentor G4PJ who had a shack right on the water's edge in Salcombe. His earth rod when straight from the shack into the salt water, so his signal was excellent even on my crystal set at 4 miles.
I still enjoy getting cards from the bureau and the quality of some cards these days is remarkably good and a far cry from the thin paper cards from the USSR when I was first licenced, although these were just as prized.