I have always loved QSLs and QSLing. I still recall the excitement of receiving my first QSL at age 11....a card from 'Switzerland Calling' - Radio Switzerland, and proudly pinning it to my third-floor attic bedroom wall. Over the next few months, my unpainted attic room slowly transformed into the 'listening post' and with the lights turned off and the warm orange glow from the old GE's over-sized dial cast upon the wall of cards, it was hard not to get hooked on the magic of radio.
I have always been particularly interested in the early days of amateur radio, the days when hams could pick their own call-letters. They usually chose their initials along with the number that represented the radio district that they lived in. Most of the QSL cards from the 20's and early 30's represent what must have been some of amateur radio's most exciting times, as everything about radio was brand new, somewhat mysterious and every QSO hard-earned.
QSL cards from the era read like short-stories, with every little detail regarding transmitter, receiver, antenna and band conditions, carefully (and proudly) written on the card. It seems that when the licensing system became much more structured, all of that changed and QSL cards became something a little less 'magical'. Look at these nice old examples and see if you don't agree.
For a number of years I have contemplated having an old 'vintage-style' QSL card printed for my own use, especially for CW contacts when using homebrew or older tube transmitters. After a number of inquiries to various QSL printers throughout the U.S., I became convinced that nobody was interested in taking the time to produce a 'non-stock' card. Nobody, that is, until I looked in my own backyard and found a gentleman that has been printing cards since 1954 - Dennis Livesey, VE7DK. Dennis must love QSLs even more than I do, as he was the VE7 QSL bureau manager for over 19 years! I made a 'last chance' inquiry to see if Dennis could produce a vintage-style card and he indicated that he could print anything that I wanted! After exchanging almost two dozen e-mails the process was complete, with the final results shown below:
Dennis went out of his way to find the particular color that I was looking for, which turned out to be the same stock that he had used over 40 years ago for his own card. When I inquired about possible border-designs, his response was:
"I just went thru my files and I have over 1600 different frames and 3400 different fonts. If you see anything close to what you would like to have let me know of any changes etc. Anything is no real problem."
When asked about possible extra costs for this custom design work, I was told that:
"No problem with the art work, the pricing of my cards includes any and all artwork. There are no extras for changes to any drawings, pricing is based on quantity, type of card stock used and number of colors of ink."
These were not things that I was used to hearing from other QSL 'printers' !
I cannot speak highly enough about the quality of work by VE7DK and his enthusiasm for his craft. I can highly recommend him if you are looking for a QSL printer...and especially if you are looking for something with a vintage-look. You can contact Dennis via e-mail from here:
I look forward to exchanging cards with you, and should we work on CW while using one of my homebrew tube radios, you will be sure to get a special QSL...complete with its own short-story!
73, Steve / VE7SL