page consists of some my thoughts and opinions on postcard
collecting. There is plenty of other information and history
available on the web. I have
included links to some important info below.
Definition: a postcard collector; a person who collects postcards as a hobby
What makes a postcard valuable? There are
many varying factors. Some of them are:
Age, Condition, Subject Matter, Photo vs. Printed, and even the Postmark.
Most of the information you will find here is related to the collecting of topographical
images or social history. Postcards are collected for thousands of reasons.
are topical (Christmas cards, cards featuring Santa, Valentines, Halloween, Black related,
alligators, etc...) and others are topographical (regional images, state views, buildings,
your hometown, etc...). There are plenty of cards out
there. Varying in price from ten cents to thousands of
Age: Obviously the older cards are desirable to
a lot of postcard collectors
but even cards printed as recently as yesterday are collected.
The first known postcard (from my research) was used in Austria in
1869. Postcards made in the USA before
1907 had an un-divided back and the only thing that could be written on the backside of
the card was the address. The front of the card usually had a smaller image or
design which didn't take up the entire card or left an end open for a short message.
After 1907 the back of the card was divided into two sides, one for the address and
the other side for the message. Real photo cards seem to be most common from around
1910 through the early 1950s. Linen postcards were introduced
in the 1930s during the Depression
and were still be used into the early 1950s. Chrome cards,
sometimes called photochrome made their appearance in the late 1940s
and are usually the type of card you would find today. A number of these
somewhat "modern cards" showing Diners, Roadside Attractions such as Tourist
Camps, Motels and Tourist Traps have become very popular in the last decade. If you
live in a metropolitan area you
might have the opportunity to pick
up "rack cards". These cards can also be purchased
at a postcard show or from dealers and are usually
fairly inexpensive. Usually advertising products or services,
they might even promote a cause. Here is more detailed info
on the history
Condition: The better shape the card is in certainly affects its
value. Creases, folds, tears, soiling (dirt, postmark bleed through), and water
damage can lower the value of a card - when dealing with a real photo postcard the
sharpness, contrast, exposure (under or over exposed) can also effect the graded condition
and overall value.
Subject Matter: Certain types of subject matter are more desirable to
many collectors. In regards to State Views - Main Street Scenes, Interior Views,
Occupational and Railroad images (trains, depots, etc..) are probably some of the
more expensive to acquire. When it comes to the greetings
postcards the most popular are
Halloween, full sized Santas, July 4th and Art Nouveau.
There are many others and of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
People collect all kinds of cards for all different reasons. Of course
rarity always come into play with collectibles (even
postcards). A postcard price guide
can come in handy to educate you as of value..
Photo vs. Printed: Advanced collectors of topographical views tend to eventually
find themselves in the pursuit of Real Photo postcards
over printed cards. This is
mostly due to the image quality and detailed contained in the
photo. If you were collecting views
from your hometown you might collect any and every card you could
find, no matter what. A real photo postcards
is just that, an actual photograph
and not a printed lithograph. Although generally more expensive they are
more detailed then printed views and can often be an extra special
find since they could show buildings, homes, people and sometimes even towns that no longer exist.
Many Historians and Preservationists have focused on acquiring
photo postcards as they are wonderful
historical documents. In 1903 Kodak introduced
the No. 3A Folding Pocket Kodak, Kodak's first "postcard" camera.
This allowed the amateur
photographer to produce their own photo postcards. You could
take a photo of anything you wanted and send your photograph with
a bit of correspondence on the back (before email) anywhere throughout
the world. These views are often one of a kind.
There were also many commercially
produced cards by local or itinerant photographers. These
photographers would take photographs of
their regional areas and sell the cards wholesale to the local druggist
or a store owner who then resold the cards to their clientele.
Usually these views were of Main Street or important buildings,
such as the courthouse, bank, school, churches and even some of
the prominent homes in an area. If a business owner did
commission a photographer for some work he might end up sending
the image to Germany where printed litho cards would then be
produced. This was the case up until the first World War
when the cards were then printed in
the U.S. Unused photo postcards can often be dated by the
stamp box on the photo paper - please visit this
page to learn more.
RE: Real Photo cards -
if it is family/genealogy/regional history you are searching
after - these type of cards are wonderful! The images can be enlarged and even
framed still showing great detail.
Postmarks: Just in case you didn't know -
some postcards aren't collected by people interested in the image on front of the card,
but for the postmark on the back. They are actually postal history collectors or
technically named philatelists. There are many small towns that no longer exist
(ex. Nebraska once had 1500 communities or post offices - they are now approximately 500)
collecting DPO (Discontinued [dead] Post Offices) is quite popular. RPO (Railroad
Post Office) are also highly collected. Some collectors even collect postmarks from
ships - it is all quite an interesting subject.
Pricing & Purchasing:
After finding the cards you are interested in purchasing or
if you would like more information about a card, please
contact us to check
on the availability by providing us with the card number and a brief
description from the page you have viewed. Thanks for stopping by!
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Some postcard and photography related books