Handling QSL cards has always required some cost and a lot of effort. And for what, so that you and I can “prove” to a third party that we did what we said we did?

I’ve always believed that meme about the “final courtesy of a QSO is a QSL card” was concocted by some ham, who was probably also a postal worker, attempting to guilt the rest of us into funding his retirement.

When LoTW came along the process became so much easier that I got fully onboard. A few years later, I decided the time had come to terminate my use of printed cards and announced as much on my QRZ bio. I confirm all contacts via LoTW - no other electronic service, and no printed cards.

I still believe that’s the common sense approach even though LoTW adoption remains relatively low. The only thing certain about postal rates is that they will continue to rise. Will you still exchange postal QSL’s when it costs five dollars per card? Ten dollars? Where do you draw the line?

And beyond the cost and the effort, what am I to do with the thousands of cards that have arrived here over the last forty-two years? They currently occupy space in several large plastic bins but only until I get the gumption to take them to the landfill.

That’s been my thoughts about the chore of QSLing until a few days ago…

I was trolling around the old 40 meter Novice portion of the bands a few nights ago when I replied to a CQ from WD4NKA. Gary was in Florida and after our chat I looked him up online. Interesting fellow with some very interesting old hardware.

And something else. Gary runs a small artisan Letterpress Print Shop. Invitations, announcements, that sort of thing. Oh, and he designs and prints 1920’s era QSL cards too.

I watched his short video detailing the laborious process of handcrafting QSL cards the old-fashioned way and I was hooked.

Suddenly, I have an appreciation for the value of quality printing work. And while I still have no interest in exchanging “cheap” post cards for mass contacts, I understand the value in sharing handmade memorabilia from a personal radio contact.

I’ve rescinded my policy and will resume exchanging printed QSL cards. And I’m ordering custom cards from Gary. They aren’t cheap, but I wouldn’t buy them if they were. I value quality craftsmanship and am willing to pay for it.

I’ll still use LoTW for each and every contact and I won’t send paper for low-value contacts like sprints and contests.

But I’ll be happy to commemorate a good CW QSO with a high quality, handcrafted, printed QSL card. No SASE required.