Vintage and antique postcard collecting can be an enjoyable trip through time and space. American, Canadian, and European postcards are en vogue and are a lot of fun to hunt for at auctions online and in shops. The technical term for postcard collecting is deltiology. It’s one of the most popular collectibles. An antique postcard can give a glimpse into the society, culture, and economy of the time. The “penny post card” or “picture post card,” have been collectibles since their inception in the 1890s.
Picture post cards are interesting both as art and as historic photography. An antique postcard can be a snapshot of history – a photo of the Coney Island Boardwalk at the turn of the century or of downtown Chicago is not only a pretty picture postcard, but also a relic of a time past and of a scenery that has since changed greatly.
What are hot collectibles in the world of the picture postcard? Holiday postcards from the turn of the century through pre-WWII are popular. Halloween postcards are the most sought after with certain illustrations selling for as much as $300. Christmas cards with a Santa Claus illustration is also in demand and can be more expensive. Average vintage cards are priced below $10. If a card is by a well-known publisher or includes an illustration from a notable artist it can be considerably more valuable. Names to look for include publishers John Winsch, Raphael Tuck & Sons and International Art Publishing. Some popular artists are Ellen Clappsaddle, Samuel Schmuker, Frances Brundage, and Louis Wain. Picture postcards of your hometown or neighborhood, or of landmark buildings from your city can make for great collectibles. Collecting postcards of a vacation spot from other decades can make for a good collection as well.
There are many reproductions out there but an original will show age and might be embossed. A recommended guide to collecting is The Postcard Price Guide by J.L. Marshburn.