Now, after putting out an appeal, the couple have tracked down the rightful recipient, Derek Lewis, a retired grandfather who used to live in their house.
Crabtree said: “We were surprised that the original stamp was intact and it was in such good condition. We thought it was pretty funny that the Royal Mail decided to deliver it and that there wasn’t even a note on it. We are also wondering where it could have been all these years. It would be quite interesting if we could track its very long journey.”
A delighted Lewis said the card had come from an old pen pal, Gudrun Rentrope, who he’d been writing to since he was 17.
Gudrun had sent the postcard as a thank you after Lewis had looked after her father during a visit to England. But the card never turned up and Lewis, a retired finance worker, said it was then that the pair lost touch.
Lewis, who also lives in Maidenhead, said he was ‘totally surprised’ when it finally reached him 49 years after it was posted.
“The postcard thanked me for looking after her dad and passing on gifts. She was a very dear friend. It was quite a pleasant time in my life. In those days people didn’t have postcodes and I think this could have been one of the reasons it went missing. I can’t imagine how it got back into the system again.”
The card was stamped by Royal Mail in Swindon on Monday, October 29, 2012.
The Royal Mail has dismissed the possibility that it had gone missing in their system. Spokesman Candice MacDonald said, “It is extremely unlikely that this item of mail was in our system all this time. It is difficult to speculate what may have happened, but almost certainly it was put back in a postbox very recently, as we regularly check all our sorting offices and machines are cleared.”