This is part of Janet Nelson’s postcard collection. At right, is the postcard from Italy that started it all. At left is a postcard mailed from the skating oval station at Lake Placid in New York.

Janet Nelson of Auburn holds one of the more unusual postcards in her collection, a postcard from the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II with a fold-out album. Nelson has collected postcards from more than 60 countries, which are marked with pins on the map behind her. Most have been mailed directly to her. The coronation card was a gift.

AUBURN — They’ve come from a waitress who mentioned she was traveling to Nepal at the end of the summer. From a friend who traveled to Antarctica for research. From family who spent time in Japan.

And from a stranger — her friend’s brother-in-law, a fellow she’s never met named Jim — with a most interesting job.

Janet Nelson has built her postcard collection one country, one territory, one province and one state at a time.

“I’m afraid that I am not shy about asking,” she said, laughing.

It began informally when she was 8 and family friends sent a note from Italy. She’s now up to 62 countries and six territories or dependencies. Only a few are addressed to someone else, places where she doesn’t know someone who’s traveled there or hasn’t been herself. Yet.

A few years ago, Nelson capped off a postcard-from-every-state goal when her sister snagged an elusive North Dakota. Her sister attended an education conference, found an attendee from that state, gave her a postcard and asked if she’d mail it when she got home. The woman kindly did, mailing one on her own, too.

Since a friend shared Nelson’s collection with his brother-in-law, a videographer who did work for the BBC, she’s gotten several postcards from him over the years.

From Papa New Guinea in October 2005, he wrote on the back: “The weather here is supposed to be cold and it’s been about a year since I wore long sleeves.”

From June 2006 in New Zealand: “Here in NZ doing the Asia version of Amazing Race. Will try to send more but very busy chasing teams.”

And from Singapore, aboard the Orient Express in September 2007: “P.S. Very hard to write on a moving train.”

She has a map of the world with postcard pushpins and dates. A former junior high school French teacher sent one from Vatican City in 1976. A young man they met researching her husband’s Swedish heritage sent another from Kenya in 1986.

“It’s my way of traveling,” Nelson said. “If I can’t go to these places, I can live through the postcards that come.”

Just once has she found herself passing up the chance at a new country.

Several years ago, Nelson said she visited her nephew in Hawaii and saw a group of military men assembling for a photo at the Punchbowl Cemetery. She offered to take the picture so they could all be in it and got to talking to the men after.

“They were the heads of military for Bangladesh as well as the interior minister,” Nelson said. “I came this close to saying, ‘Would you send me a postcard when you get home?'”

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