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Three Keys to Judging the Value of Antique and Vintage Postcards

by Bonnie Wilpon (06/01/10).

A 1940s view of Main Street in Evansville, Ind., showing store signage. This postcard would be worth $5-$6.

A 1940s view of Main Street in Evansville, Ind., showing store signage. This postcard would be worth $5-$6.

Just last week I received a phone call from my friend Janet, who told me that her Great-Aunt Molly just gave her “a bunch of old postcards” that she had collected over the years. “Are they valuable?” Janet wanted to know.

Of course, without looking at a collection, it’s impossible to assess its value. But there are a few simple ways to tell which cards in that stack of postcards are likely to have more value than others. Examine them for three major factors:

Subject: What’s on the picture side of the postcard? The more likely the scene is to have changed, the more valuable the card. A view of Main Street in Peoria, Ill. will have more value than a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains—even if the scenic card is from 1906 and the street scene is from the 1960s. General scenes can often be found in dealers’ 25¢ to $1boxes at postcard shows, while busy streets often range from $4 to $25 or more, depending on the town, age, condition and amount of detail.

Unusual views: This pre-1908 postcard shows bookkeepers in Hong Kong, wearing traditional dress and using the abacus. In excellent condition, this postcard would be worth $15-$20.

Unusual views: This pre-1908 postcard shows bookkeepers in Hong Kong, wearing traditional dress and using the abacus. In excellent condition, this postcard would be worth $15-$20.

This lovely pre-1920 scenic view of a Norwegian fjord is worth just 50 cents to $2, as, most likely, this fjord looks the same today.

This lovely pre-1920 scenic view of a Norwegian fjord is worth just 50 cents to $2, as, most likely, this fjord looks the same today.

The more unusual the view, the more value it has. There are millions of postcards out there—old and new—showing the tourist sights of Washington DC, but not so many of people working inside factories. Small town views are more likely to be worth more than similar scenes in big cities. Old or new, card showing monuments, statues and historic buildings can be found for $1 and less. Rarer images will begin at the $5-$10 level.

View or greeting? Views show people, places and things as they really are (or were). Greetings include holiday cards, artist signed cards (signature printed on the card—different from an autograph) and fantasy (i.e. dressed animals doing people-things, flowers with faces). Today, in general, views are “hotter” than greetings—just the opposite from the time I started collecting in the early 1970s. Common greetings are often found for less than $1, while particular signed artists and extra features can boost the starting price to $5-plus.

Greeting postcards: Pre-1920 embossed Christmas postcard with shiny copper insets could be found for $1-$4.

Greeting postcards: Pre-1920 embossed Christmas postcard with shiny copper insets could be found for $1-$4.

Age: In general, the older the postcard, the more valuable it is. Longtime postcard collectors eagerly seek cards from the Golden Age of Postcards (1907-1915) and earlier. New cards, available today on the racks, have little value. I often see them at postcard shows for less than their WalMart rack prices.

Condition: Does the postcard look like you could have just plucked it from the rack to send to your grandma? Or does it have bent corners, postmarking on the front, stains, tears or creases? Even slight damage can reduce the value of a postcard by half or more.

A pre-1915 look at the Seaside Inn in Daytona Beach, FL, showing a horse-drawn carriage.  Daytona Beach doesn’t look anything like this today, and this card is worth $6-$8.

A pre-1915 look at the Seaside Inn in Daytona Beach, FL, showing a horse-drawn carriage. Daytona Beach doesn’t look anything like this today, and this card is worth $6-$8.

Generally, it doesn’t matter whether or not the postcard was sent through the mail. However, unusual postmarks, such as RPO (Railroad Post Offices), very clear small-town postmarks or those commemorating special events can add value.

Unlike collectibles such as coins and stamps, there are no “official records” of all the postcards ever produced, nor is there a clear standard of value. It’s common to see the exact same postcard priced at $5 at one dealer’s booth and $15 at another—within the same show! This heightens the “thrill of the hunt” for postcards even more.

If your Great-Aunt Molly’s postcards have personal significance, you’ll want to keep them to hand down to the kids. Tales of Grandpa Joe’s trip through Europe, or reminiscences of Great-Granny’s move to Chicago may have their greatest value as part of your family’s history.

Bonnie Wilpon is a Worthologist who specializes in postcards.

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65 Responses to “Three Keys to Judging the Value of Antique and Vintage Postcards”

  1. bonnie says:

    i have a few postcards. one has a guy walking an aligator (colourful), another is a model t on a mountain side (black and white) and another is like from the civil war with the camp and tents and horses, etc (black and white). also have an amish one. think any of these are worth anything?

    • Bonnie Wilpon Bonnie Wilpon says:

      Hi Bonnie -

      Most of the cards you describe sound unusual and interesting! Approximate values noted are collector prices (dealers will pay less), assuming excellent condition.

      In general, cards with identified towns (especially smaller cities/towns) are more valuable that unidentified ones.

      If the fellow walking the alligator is a comic card of the linen era (very bright colors and a rougher texture) it would probably retail for $4-6.

      The Model T, if the car is shown close-up, would appeal to auto collectors, who enjoy seeing as much detail about the cars as possible; it might retail for $5-15. If the car is a small part of the postcard, with no identified town, it would probably be found in a dealer’s $1 box.

      The war view you describe is most likely from the Spanish-American War, or WW1. During the Civil War period, photographers did cartes de visite (about 3″ x 2″) and cabinet photos (about 4.5″ x 6.5″)… but postcards hadn’t been invented yet. With an identified location, this card could be valued from $5-25.

      Amish cards, normally chrome (modern era), are fun but not overly valuable, since there are a lot of them – especially from the Amish Country in PA. (25 cents – $1)

      A good way to get a quick indication of value is to go to a site that sells or auctions postcards and search for a similar card.

      Best, Bonnie Wilpon, Postcard Worthologist

      bonnie says:
      June 3, 2010 at 5:04 pm

      i have a few postcards. one has a guy walking an aligator (colourful), another is a model t on a mountain side (black and white) and another is like from the civil war with the camp and tents and horses, etc (black and white). also have an amish one. think any of these are worth anything?

  2. stacy says:

    postcards

  3. Nino Baldino says:

    I found a card showing a slave playing the banjo sitting on top of a pile of cotten….

    • Bonnie Wilpon Bonnie Wilpon says:

      Hi Nino -

      Black Americana is a very collectible postcard topic. Today, these cards would be considered “not politically correct”, to say the least! But, in their time, they were not unusual. Many stereotypes about Black African Americans were used> Common themes in postcards include people picking cotton, eating watermelon, being chased by alligators, dancing and gambling, etc. In excellent condition, Black Americana postcards are generally priced between $10 and $25, though you can find less expensive ones, especially those of the comic linen type.

      Best wishes, Bonnie Wilpon, Postcard Worthologist

  4. Mary Carol Jerram says:

    What about a postcard from the Harvard Yale debate of 1908? What about a postcard with the first dirigible in flight?

    My grandmother was in college in 1908 when her father died. Her entire freshman class traveled by train in all directions and sent her postcards throughout the summer. She received 400 of them from all over, including the World’s Fair in St. Louis. The collection includes a railroad map of 1908 she used to follow the travels of her friends. I took the collection to The Road Show, and the postcard appraiser was so overwhelmed, he was speechless. He said he was too large a collection to value properly.

    • Bonnie Wilpon Bonnie Wilpon says:

      Hi Mary Carrol -

      I can see why the Road Show fellow was a bit overwhelmed! This sounds like a super collection that might have to be valued one card at a time.

      If I were going to auction the Harvard/Yale or dirigible postcards you mentioned, I would probably start them at the $25 level, and wouldn’t be at all surprised if they sold for well over $100 each.

      Because there are no set values for postcards as there are with other collectibles, their worth is truly determined by the marketplace. I’ve seen dealers buy postcards from each other (all knowledgeable postcard folks) at the start of Shows, mark the cards up substantially and sell them the same day at a fine profit.

      Again, condition will be a large factor, as well as whether a postcard is from an identified city/town.

      What makes this collection extra-special for you is the personal connection with your Grandmother, and its special value to your family.

      Best, Bonnie Wilpon, Postcard Worthologist

  5. Bonnie Wilpon Bonnie Wilpon says:

    Hi Nino -

    Black Americana is a very collectible postcard topic. Today, these cards would be considered “not politically correct”, to say the least! But, in their time, they were not unusual. Many stereotypes about Black African Americans were used> Common themes in postcards include people picking cotton, eating watermelon, being chased by alligators, dancing and gambling, etc. In excellent condition, Black Americana postcards are generally priced between $10 and $25, though you can find less expensive ones, especially those of the comic linen type.

    Best wishes, Bonnie Wilpon, Postcard Worthologist

  6. Pat says:

    Great and useful article! Thank you, Ms. Worthologist! I have an old postcard that looks like a photograph, with a child holding a rabbit. Would you say that this is a collectible topic? Are this kind of photograph cards worth more, or less, than printed photos? Inquiring minds need to know.

    • Bonnie Wilpon Bonnie Wilpon says:

      Hi Pat -

      “Children with pets” is a wonderful topic! It’s what we call a “double-header” – some folks collect postcards of Children; some of Animals, and this topic spans both.

      Since rabbits are less common than dogs or cats, a collection like this would be more difficult and challenging to assemble. Maybe some day an enterprising author/collector will write a book on this topic.

      Some postcards are called “Real Photo” postcards. These were actually photographs, printed on postcard backs, and are generally one-of-a-kind items. They are black & white, and have a name, or code in the stamp box showing which photographic paper was used.

      With some research, you can determine the approximate date of the postcard from that stamp box. For example, cards with Kodak boxes are generally from the 1950s; those with Artura boxes were made from 1910-1920.

      In general, Real Photo postcards are worth more than printed ones, both because of their uniqueness and their excellent photographic quality which enables us to see lots of detail.

      Happy collecting – Bonnie Wilpon, Postcard Worthologist

  7. Lette says:

    Hi: I have a set of black and white postcards of the 1913 flood in Dayton, Ohio. One has a picture of a dead cow hanging by it’s hoof from a bridge. The others show streets flooded up to the second floor in downtown Dayton. Do these have any value? Thanks!

    • Bonnie Wilpon Bonnie Wilpon says:

      Hi Lette,

      These postcards may be “real photo” postcards; if so, they’ll have more value than printed cards.

      Personally, I love “disaster cards” like this, because they show a cataclysmic event, and views that are rare. For some reason though, they generally don’t sell as well as I would think. Maybe they bring memories that locals don’t want.

      However, depending on the number of cards, their condition and the sharpness of the images, this lot could have some nice value. If you’re interested in an appraisal, visit Worthpoint’s “Ask a Worthologist”

      Happy collecting – Bonnie Wilpon

  8. Pipe Mike says:

    I have a set of 10 Italian postcards in a envelope from when they were first bought. They are 1950′s era and some are of landscape and some are images of Italian painters. Any value in these? They’re all unused, by the way.

    • Bonnie Wilpon Bonnie Wilpon says:

      Hi Pipe Mike -

      These cards were, most likely, purchased in a museum in Italy. They are a set, in an envelope, intended to be purchased together as a souvenir.

      Landscapes and artists, lovely as they are, do not have value. And here in the U.S., foreign cards like this can be found in dealer boxes for $.50 and less.

      Their best value is as a souvenir from the relative who visited Italy. Or, if they have no sentimental value to you, send them as correspondence to a young person who might “catch the hobby”!

      Best, Bonnie Wilpon

  9. Melanie says:

    I inherited some postcards from my Great Uncle which he acquired on trips that he made touring around the world. They are “embroidered”. Some are from Madrid Spain, Japan, Germany, and other places, I believe from the 50′s/60′s. I have attempted to find out information about these, but can’t find much. What is your take on these?

    • Bonnie Wilpon Bonnie Wilpon says:

      Hi Melanie -

      Embroidered postcards come under the heading of “Novelty” or “Add-Ons”. Pre-30 cards like this have more value than the newer ones from the 1950s and 1960s. I’ve often seen the newer cards on sites like eBay sell in the $3-5 range.

      Many of these show dolls or women in native dress, with heavily embroidered skirts and hats. Some show bullfighting scenes, with bright red embroidered capes. They are quite attractive, and usually made of heavy, sturdy card stock.

      Best, Bonnie Wilpon

  10. Jill says:

    Thank you, Bonnie, informative article. Some postcard collectors get into it accidentally, like me. I call it my “auxilliary” collection. I have collected Victorian hatpins for many many years, so I started collecting postcards with visible hatpins. Some are comic cards, satirizing the fashions of the day in the early part of the 20th century. Many are real people photographs with ladies with huge hats and visible hatpins. And some are greeting cards, as many Easter cards feature hats with hatpins.

    I also collect series cards which were printed in sets (as long as it features giant hats) like the Merry Widow, Jumbo Lids and Basket Hats cards. As you said, the price varies greatly, from $1 for a photo card to $25 for a Halloween card with a skeleton featuring hat and putting in the hatpin.

    today this little “extra” collection of mine has grown to about 300 cards. What is nice is they all fit in one book.
    The perfect collectible! Not too expensive and does not take up much room.

    • Bonnie Wilpon Bonnie Wilpon says:

      Hi Jill -

      I smiled as I read your tale of “accidentally” starting a postcard collection – people often begin this way!

      Collections can start as an offshoot of a topical interest (like hats/hatpins, local history, Persian cats, etc.) And collectors get hooked for exactly the reasons you describe – postcards are relatively inexpensive (new collectors can easily start collections by spending $1 or less per card), portable and unbreakable.

      Topical collections like these can span various postcard eras and types – from old to new, real photos to comics – with enough variety so that the collector can find something new all the time.

      Happy collecting – Bonnie Wilpon

      • Kim says:

        I have a couple of old postcards that I have found. One has a picture of what is called the New St. Louis courthouse on the front. The person that sent it wrote on the back that they had been to see the St. Louis Browns play ball that day and they were going to see Greta Garbo that night at the Fox Theater. It is postmarked I think 1932 or 34. The other one shows a new style barber chair on the front and basically says the chair is being shipped out to this person. It is postmarked 189?. I have them put up and can not remember the exact dates. Would these cards be worth anything?

        Thank you
        Kim Schnitzer

        • Bonnie Wilpon Bonnie Wilpon says:

          Hi Kim -

          The St. Louis courthouse is fairly common, and from a big city, so there’s not much value there. In perfect condition it would probably sell for $3-4. The message side is interesting though, and makes it a fun collectible.

          When you find the barber chair card, check it again. If it’s a “new style” chair, I’m confused about the 1800s postmark… unless you meant 1980-something instead of 1890-something. In either case, this sounds like an advertising card for barber chairs, and might have some value, depending on which century it’s from!

          Best wishes, Bonnie Wilpon

  11. Lois Schmidt says:

    My Dad kept all the postcards his father sent him from his numerous road trips – all of Milwaukee WI – and none of those places look the same anymore – all from the early 1900′s – found them in with all the old photographs. I treasure them, as they also provide a bit of insight into the grandfather I never knew.

  12. Lois Schmidt says:

    I should have explained that his father must have purchased a good number of Milwaukee postcards, carried them with him, mailing them from the different cities to which he traveled. They are wonderful to look at. I have no idea, though, what they might be worth to anyone else, but to me, to my sons especially, they are a family treasure.

    • Bonnie Wilpon Bonnie Wilpon says:

      Hi Lois -

      These wonderful cards are definitely treasured family heirlooms, since they tell the tale of your grandfather’s working life. Depending on condition and amount of detail, Milwaukee street scenes of the pre-1920 era range from $3-15 each. But their value to your children is priceless! It’s nice to see them “staying home”.

      Best wishes, Bonnie Wilpon

  13. diana brink says:

    Anyone have any idea what leather post cards are worth?

    • Bonnie Wilpon Bonnie Wilpon says:

      Hi Diana -

      Leather cards in the comic category can be found for $3-4 each. Some of them may be more valuable, though, depending on what’s printed on them (those with identified city views will be worth more), and how “un-floppy” the leather is.

      Happy collecting – Bonnie Wilpon

  14. Lois Schmidt says:

    Thank you, Bonnie, for your kind words. They are indeed all of Milwaukee prior to 1920 – my dad was ‘his Josie Boy,’ and grandfather, knowing how much his son loved him and missed him, used these postcards to stay in touch with him. I will take even better care of them than I have before. Thank you again.

  15. John Miller says:

    I thought your article was fascinating, Bonnie, and it sent me straight to an old chest from my grandparents where I thought there was a bunch of old postcards … I was right, and now I’m interested in finding out more.

    Most of the postcards are from Japan and China … my grandfather was stationed in Shanghai (USMC) and they took a vacation during that time to Japan. There are 15 b&w photo cards of China, 7 b&w of Japan, 3 color of Japan. Then there is a set in the damaged but original wrapper of 26 (of 30 if the wrapper is correct) color scenes of Greater Tokyo and, most interesting I think, a set of “12 Assorted Wood Shaving Post Cards of Tokyo, coloured by hand” in the original wrapper.

    In addition there is a bound set of 16 color cards from Cuernavaca from either the late 1920′s or the late 30′s, after they returned from China. These are in a sort of bound tablet with two cards making up each page.

    There are a half dozen unusual (to me anyway) cards from Madeira, Canary Islands, etc. showing women in native dress with the skirts made of thread applied to the card.

    And finally nine Christmas greeting cards from Germany I(5 designs) with verses, embossed color drawings of children in domestic scenes, signed (I think) “Ellen H Chapooddle.”

    I realize you can’t appraise these from this description, but I’d be interested in anything you might know about the genres represented, etc., and particularly who you might suggest contacting to get a reliable appraisal and possibly to offer to other collectors … since they probably have been in the chest since they came back to the US (about 70 years!) I obviously don’t need to keep them shut up out of sight!

    Thanks again for a great and really informative article!

    • Bonnie Wilpon Bonnie Wilpon says:

      Hi John -

      Thanks for the compliments! I can see you now, smiling as you rush to your grandparents’ old chest… and what a fascinating stash you found!

      For an appraisal, I’d suggest visiting Worthpoint.com and going to Item Research and/or Expert Opinion/Ask a Worthologist.

      Sounds like most of these cards are from the 1920s – 1940s, since you mentioned they’d been in the chest about 70 years.
      The first group, from China and Japan, are a great find, assuming that the postcards are pre-WW2. Due to the destruction in Asia during the War, many of the buildings/streets are probably no longer there.

      The bound set from Cuernavaca may be pretty, but has little value. Postcard books (with tear-out cards) are not in demand.

      Your cards of the women in native dress sounds like “embroidered postcards”, which fall under the heading of “Novelty” or “Add-Ons”. Pre-1940 cards like this would likely sell to collectors in the $6-10 range.

      Your Christmas greetings with just verses most likely have little value. But the ones showing children are, most likely, signed by Ellen Clapsaddle, a well-known postcard artist. These cards, in excellent condition, are likely worth $8-20 each. Cards showing toys and Santas, as well as the tykes, would be on the higher end of that scale.

      Of course, to realize the highest value for postcards, you’d want to sell each individually to a collector at a show, online (i.e. through a classified ad on Worthpoint) or on an auction site.

      Dealers will pay much less, since there’s risk, time and work involved with each card to try to sell it, and they need to make a profit too. But selling the cards as a lot to a dealer is a good way to sell them without any work, quickly, and without having cards with little value left over.

      Most reputable dealers (such as those, like me, who are affiliated with Worthpoint, and/or are members of the IFPD – International Federation of Postcard Dealers) are interested in buying cards in a way that’s a win-win for both the seller and buyer.

      You may choose to keep some in the family as well. Either way, your grandfather would be pleased to know you’re thinking about him as you enjoy the postcards.

      Best wishes, Bonnie Wilpon

  16. JoAnn Van Scotter says:

    Great article…..generally sums up postcard relative values very well…..though as you point out…to really appraise them you have to see them.. Hopefully this should make people stop and think before they toss Aunties collection out with the old newspapers. Regards…

  17. Deb Krieger says:

    Hi Bonnie. I really love your article. Makes me realize that my gut about value is totally inaccurate! Thanks for the lessons. I happen to love postcards in general and now that I understand the vintage ones more, I’ll be looking around with a different, more educated eye.

    My specific question is about these tiny black and white photos of the Washington Cathedral. I have 16 of them and they measure 1 5/8″ x 2 5/8″. They all have a printed description of the different part of the Cathedral shown, i.e.,

    The Chapel of the Resurrection
    Washington Cathedral

    Five of them are horizontal/landscape orientation and eleven of them are vertical/portrait orientation. There are no duplicate images.

    If they were more postcard size, they would be postcards, but since they are so small, I don’t even know what to call them! I’ve never seen anything like them. Do you have any idea what they are, or even what I should call them to do research online? I’m stumped.

    Thanks so much!!

    Deb :-)

    • Bonnie Wilpon Bonnie Wilpon says:

      Hi Deb -

      Those little souvenir photos you mention generally come in a set, in a folder or small packet with a cut-out on the front cover, so you can see the first photo. You can find them hiding in the listings on eBay and other sites under photographic images, as “miniature photos” or “miniature views”.

      Unfortunately, they don’t sell particularly well, though they’re cute as a button to look through. Because the ones you mention are of a tourist attraction in Washington DC, there were many made, and they’re not in demand.

      It’s always nice to “meet” another postcard lover – keep searching!

      Happy Collecting – Bonnie

      • Deb Krieger says:

        Thanks so much for the info, Bonnie! I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. I do love those little souvenier cards. I’d really never seen anything like them before. Maybe, since they are not really worth much, I’ll use them in a piece of art, instead!

        Thanks again,

        Deb

  18. Linda Trujillo says:

    Loved the information.

  19. Jo Lydon says:

    Love the article.

    I have a real photo postcard, believed to be from Oklahoma because of the mention of oil wells. I pictures 4 indians riding their horses up main street, again not able to identify the town, one in full head dress the others not. It is not of a parade because their are cars parked on the street and no specators. Do you have an idea of value?

    • Bonnie Wilpon Bonnie Wilpon says:

      Hi Jo -

      If the photo is clear enough to read any of the signs on the stores or buildings, searching them in Google may help you identify the town. And, a bit of research on the headdress could identify the tribe, which might lead to the location as well.

      If the postcard is used, the postmark would be an indicator of its age. If not, most real photo postcards have a stamp box which identifies the maker of the photo paper, which would indicate an age range as well.

      Cars probably mean 1920 or later – and you may be able to judge age by the auto models.

      A sharp clear image in excellent condition would probably start in auction at $10-15. If the town was identified, I’d expect it to start at the $25-30 level, and go up from there. If the card is from the 1915-1920 time period, I’d expect even higher prices.

      Sounds like a great find!

      Happy collecting – Bonnie

  20. Lois Schmidt says:

    In addition to the Milwaukee postcards from my Dad I posted earlier, I’ve just discovered more of his postcards – some are postcard greeting cards of Christmas, New Years, Valentines, Easter, and others. Seems sending and receiving postcards was very popular, at least eary in the 20th Century. It also helps a bit with family history, as certain ones are signed with last names I heard growing up, but of whom I know very little, so ‘the hunt is on.’

    These postcards and other memorabilia are truly family treasures.

  21. Lois Schmidt says:

    Meant to add to my last post, how interesting it is to read all the posts/questions/replies – thank you!

  22. Connie Kilgore says:

    I have hundreds of postcards that I’ve collected/saved/hoarded over the years, but the ones I’m most curious about are the Nazi propaganda postcards I found in a collection belonging to my husband’s relative, who was also an avid stamp collector. One is a portrait of Hitler; others seem to promote the political propaganda of the day. They are unused and in very good condition.

    • Bonnie Wilpon Bonnie Wilpon says:

      Hi Connie -

      Hitler/Nazi propaganda is a great collecting topic. Portraits of Hitler generally sell at auction in the $10-20 range. But if they are more candid shots, or they show him with other people or doing something, the cards are going in the $35-60 range. Estimates assume excellent condition (no bends, corner wear, staining, etc).

      Political cards of the WW2 era are popular as well; I often see them at auction for $12-50, depending on how unusual they are, and what they’re touting.

      Happy collecting – Bonnie Wilpon

  23. JoAnn VanScotter says:

    Looks good Bonnie…..you article on postcard values is pretty much right on…..Regards

  24. Sue Rusch says:

    Hi, great article.
    I’m having some trouble with what is suppose to be, a postcard but, it’s a painted one with a plain back. The card has a printed signiture in the bottom corner Ethel Tucker and the name of the card on the other bottom corner, “The End Of The Harbour.” This is suppose to be No. 31 in the series. It is framed and is thicker cardboard.
    I do have another post card by this lady that looks like a post card should. It’s also got her name in the corner and Paget Bermuda in the other corner and the back has the divided line for the address and message. Also it’s the right thickness for a postcard.
    I’ve not been able to find out anything about the first post card although I have tried very hard for the last 5yrs.
    Sincerely

    • Bonnie Wilpon Bonnie Wilpon says:

      Hi Sue -

      Sounds like you have a gallery card… from your description, it sounds like it’s a printed card on thick stock, rather than a hand-painted piece of original artwork.

      These typically have plain (non-postcard) backs, and were intended to be given away, sometimes autographed by the artist in attendance, at art gallery shows featuring the work of the artist. Technically they are not postcards, though they can be mailed just like postcards.

      If, on the other hand, it’s actually an original hand painted piece, it would be valued as original artwork. Sometimes artists hand-painted (and they still do) small items they could sell at a lower price than larger paintings. This is more common in touristy areas, such as lovely islands like Bermuda.

      Ethel Tucker was a British artist, who lived from 1874-1962.
      She did many watercolor pieces of Bermuda, and recent pieces have sold at auction for $200-300 (smaller than 10 x 12″ sizes).

      Best wishes, Bonnie

  25. Hello, I have about 15 postcards that my grandfather gave me from Germany, he brought them back when he was in WWII. They are all postmarked with Hitler/Nazi stamps. There are some of Hitler in his WWI uniform, in the field and with his neice. These are all marked on the bottom right front with “Hitler im Felde”. Then I have 7 postcards of his castle/bunker in the mountains (interior and exterior views). Have been told these could be worth a bit, can you give me any clue? Thanks!

    • Bonnie Wilpon Bonnie Wilpon says:

      Hi Brian -

      Postcards of Hitler, in excellent condition, usually sell at auction between $10 and $40 each, depending on how big the image of him is (for example, full body is better than face only) and what he’s doing (Hitler engaged in an activity, or shown with others will be more valuable than a portrait of him alone in his uniform).

      “Hitler im Felde” is German for “Hitler in the Field”.

      The card you have of him with his niece would probably sell on the high side of this range or higher, since it would be less common than Hitler in uniform or in the field.

      However, the cards are sometimes slow sellers, since the number of collectors of WWII cards seems to be dwindling as people who had relatives in the War are aging and no longer with us. That’s not to say their value is less.

      Cards of WWII German bunkers and other military installations are not as highly valued, usually selling around the $5 to $10 level.

      Since these came from your grandfather, I would advise you to hold onto them and pass them along to your family, as a reminder of the War and his patriotic involvement in it. These postcards will grow in value as time goes by.

      Best wishes, Bonnie

  26. Cheryl says:

    I have 3 Love-Pats unused postcards from Amberley Greeting Card Co in Cincinnati Ohio dated 1972 on the back. They seem to be on a heavy stock paper and each has a number on the bottom front of the card M1187, M1243 and M1249. One says “A little honey is good for your health….unless your wife finds out!”

    Could you tell me what they may be worth? Thank you

    • Bonnie Wilpon Bonnie Wilpon says:

      Hi Cheryl -

      The Love Pats cards are very cute, but have little monetary value. Cards from the 1970s can usually be found at Shows for $1.00 and less. I’ve seen these sell at auction in the $1 – 3 range.

      Enjoy them for their intrinsic humor and value – they’re fun collectibles!

      Best wishes, Bonnie

  27. Bob Short says:

    I have WW II postcards with comic strip characters. Dick
    Tracy, Smiling Jack, Snuffy, and Terry & the Pirates. They have a place to fill in someone’s name.

    Published by Famous Artists Syn,CPR 1943.

    I cannot find any information on these.

    • Hi Bob -

      Dick Tracey, Terry & the Pirates, Snuffy, Smiling Jack and Moon Mullins were comic strip characters popular in the 1940s. Linen comic postcards using those characters – and some others – were made for soldiers to use to send to their friends and family back home. There were blanks for them to fill in things like their buddies’ names, likes and dislikes, what they had for dinner last night, the brands of products they like (in case people wanted to send Care Packages), etc.

      Similar to the “Lazy Person’s Card” where people checked off items instead of writing them out, and “Mad Libs”, the popular fill-in-the-blank paper game, these cards were a fun way for servicemen and women to write home without spending a lot of time on the task.

      In excellent condition, they can be found at shows and online in the $7-10 range.

  28. Vicki Nichols says:

    I have a lithograph postcard dated 1937 from Curteich & Co chicago with the subject of new orleans. it is a small porfolio, you open it and inside is an accordian paper, printed front and back, with 17 different scenes around new orleans, jackson square,french quarter, etc. any idea of approx value? it’s in good condition…the colors are still very vibrant, only once the inside paper, when the portfolio was closed, got a bend at the end of the paper. thanks.

    • Hi Vicki -

      What you describe is known to deltiologists (postcard collectors) as a “folder”, where images, printed on both sides, fold out when you open it. From 1937, this one is probably a “linen” – rougher paper than normal, with bright, sometimes garish, colors.

      Unfortunately, folders have never caught on with mainstream collectors, and have little value. They are difficult to sell, and you’ll generally find them in dealers’ 25-cent to $1.00 boxes. In internet auctions, when they do sell, they’re often sold in lots, with individual folders fetching from $1 to $4.

      If this one has sentimental value, it’s best kept in the family.

  29. Mary Horowitz says:

    I have a set of 16 Japanese postcards in an envelope titled “The Shanghai Trouble”. They are full color real photo postcards showing the Japanese soldiers in Shanghai in, I believe, 1932. There are scenes of battles in the streets. How valuable do you think they might be?

    • Hi Mary -

      While I’ve seen black-and-white real photo postcards of this short war between China and Japan in 1932, I’ve never seen color real photo postcards. If the cards really are original, color, excellent condition, 1932 RPs showing soldiers fighting in the streets of Shanghai, I believe you have a valuable item here.

      Individual b&w cards of this conflict are rare, but sell well when offered, generally between $30-40 each. I have not seen a set such as the one you describe. Generally, sets sell for the sum of the individual cards plus a premium of $5-10 for the envelope. So with 16 cards in the set, it appears that you have an item worth $600-700.

  30. Cindy Kohl says:

    I have a post card written in spanish “soldaros del 10 reg de cab. Norte Americano hechos pricioneros en al combate del carrizael por tropas const de mexico el 21 de junio de 1916″. Loosely translated it is a photo of prisoners from the 10th U.S. Regular Calvary (Buffalo Soldiers) taken captive on 21 Jun 1916, when US Troops were tracking Pancho Villa.
    Accompanying is a 4×6 photo of Black Jack Pershing.

    An envelop of paper pesos dated 1914 from Chihuahua Mexico. Five of the cinco pesos are in consecutive numerical order. One veinte pesos dated 1914. Three cincuenta centavos dated 1914. All are marked
    El Estado De Chihuahua pagara al portador en effectivo….conforme al decreto militar de fecha 10 de Febrero de 1914 CHIHUAHUA, Chihuahua, mexico.

    These were collected by my grandfather who was in the U.S. Army participating in the hunt for Pancho Villa. Do they hold any other value to a collector?

    • Hi Cindy -

      I think this collection of Pancho Villa/Mexican Revolution items is best kept together. The appeal would be, I believe, to collectors of Mexican or US military memorabilia. Separating the postcard (which, in itself, if in excellent condition, may not fetch over $10 – 15) wouldn’t serve the collection well.

      Anything that documents the provenance (that the items were actually gathered by your grandfather; who he was, etc.) should be carefully saved and kept with the collection.

      I’m not familiar with values of military memorabilia, and would suggest that you submit photos of the entire collection to Worthpoint for a proper appraisal. As a family heirloom, the grouping is quite a treasure… and it may also be one to a collector.

  31. I was wondering if you could give me some information about these postcards I am not a collector i inherited them.

    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152295028440529.932874.880685528&type=1&l=0ee97cea7a

    • Bonnie Wilpon Bonnie Wilpon says:

      Hi James – You have a little hodge-podge of cards here, ranging from about 1910 to the late 1950s or so, from what I can see. The gem of the group (even with the bent corner) is the Shipping Fruit scene in Annapolis Valley. This shows men with their horse-drawn carts and a train. I assume this is a full-size postcard. I’m not overly familiar with Nova Scotia cards and their rarity, but this card should have a value of $15 – $20. The sheep-shearing and other cards of men working are nice as well, with values around $5. Unfortunately, many of the cards appear to have scotch tape on them, which ruins the financial value. Scenic cards, as well as the newer cards of Indians and the lobster can be found in most dealer boxes at $1 and less. If these cards have sentimental value, or family-oriented messages on the back side, I would keep them in the family to pass down to future generations. Thanks for sharing them!

  32. dora says:

    What about vintage disney postcards?

    • Hi Dora – “Vintage” simply means “of the era”. So when you say vintage, what time period are you referring to? And are you asking about Disneyland, or Disney World postcards – in the U.S. or abroad?

      Early Disney World (it opened in 1971 on Orlando, FL) cards are very collectible, depending on what they show, and whether they’re artist renderings or actual scenes.

      Disneyland in Anaheim, CA opened in 1955, and postcards from the 1950s are sought-after as well.

  33. Hi Bonnie.
    I have a large collection of postcards from the late 1940s to the early 1950s that my aunt received from all over the US when she was very ill. They very from a booklet of postcards from NM, CA, to single postcards. Some are of Cities, small towns, schools, lakes, capital buildings, etc too many to mention. How would I find out how to value them. Some look like photos, some are more cartoons, some are colored drawings.
    Thank you
    Arlene

    • Hi Arlene – I see both of your messages here. As you can see by the article, postcards from the 1940s and 1950s will be either linens (rough texture, garish colors) or standard size (3.5 x 5″) chromes (the ones that look like photographs. If you do have “real photo” postcards, they’ll be black & white and will have generally) white captions on the photo side. Dealers generally will buy these, sight unseen, in the 25-50 cent range. If you have busy street scenes from small towns, businesses no longer in existence or hard-to-find topics, dealers will likely pay in the $1 to $1.50 range. These cards will generally sell online from $3-5. Real photo cards will generally be double those prices.

      The older greeting cards you mentioned, although they’re old, unfortunately don’t have much value. Exceptions: Halloween cards and unusual holidays such as July 4th, Memorial Day, Leap Year will have more value. Cards showing children or beautiful women that are signed by the artist (not autographed – signed in “printing” on the picture side) will have more value as well. Cards with things added on to them (fans, pictures that fold out, booklets) will also be worth more. Run-of-the-mill greetings generally can be found in dealer’s boxes at 25-50 cents to $1, in good+ condition. Most of the other exceptions mentioned run from $3-10, and Halloween cards generally start (in very good+ condition) in the $15-20 range.

      Hope this helps! If you find you don’t have many cards with higher individual values, you might want to try selling them all as a lot online, or – even better – at a postcard show where several dealers can make you offers.

      As always, if you have cards with family significance, you’ll want to keep them to hand down to future generations.

      Enjoy – Bonnie

  34. Bonnie,
    I just wrote to you about my large collection of postcards. There are probably about 300+ and all have been kept in a box, there are many that date from the early 1900′s to the 1930. Some are from Japan, and France. There are the Thinking of you, happy birthday, Happy Valentines Day, etc. and others.
    Thanks Arlene

  35. Marianne says:

    I have a 1906 post card “pull out” folio (total 20) “Ricordo Di Genova” bound in red leather with gold lettering. It is inscribed on the back page “J.S. L. Wharton, March 23, 1906, S. S. Republic. It is in good condition with a few nicks on the cover edges. J. S. L. Wharton was the nephew of industrialist Joseph Wharton of Philadelphia and the S. S. Republic was a known as the “Millionaires’ Ship” because of the number of well-known and immensely rich Americans who traveled by her. It sunk off the coast Nantucket in 1909 when it was struck by another ship. Any idea as to what I should ask for this little treasure?

    Marianne

    • Hi Marianne –

      I’ve never seen a postcard “folder” (pullout showing multiple views) bound in a leather folder. Its provenance is quite interesting. You’ve stumped me… I would have no idea what to ask for this! On the down side, folders are poor sellers in the postcard world. On the up side, collectors of ship memorabilia might be quite interested… which puts it outside my scope of knowledge. I would suggest putting it in an auction with a starting bid of an amount you’re comfortable with, and see where it goes from there.

      • Marianne says:

        The photos cards are scenes in Genova, not the ship which is only referenced in the personal notation at the back. As they really aren’t postcards, but a collection of fold out photos no doubt sold to tourists, I probably should be looking to collectors of travel and photo memorabilla. Your input is appreciated. Thank you.

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