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 A LITTLE ABOUT POSTCARDS...                                             * please see disclaimer below *
This 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.  

deltiologist.  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.  Some 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 dollars.

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 of postcards.

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 & PurchasingAfter 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!

* Disclaimer *     THE INFORMATION AVAILABLE ON THIS WEB SITE IS PROVIDED ON AN "AS IS" BASIS WITHOUT WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO WARRANTIES OF TITLE, NON INFRINGEMENT OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, AND IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.  This Web site is for informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for the professional judgment of users. Your reliance upon the Web site is solely at your own risk. 

Nathan Huegel Postcards                                Some postcard and photography related books


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