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Mother’s Day Postcards: The Affordable Collectible

by Erika Gonzalez (05/04/08).

Why bother sending your mom another generic, mass-produced card, when you can send her a piece of history?

At the vintage, collectible postcard site cardcow.com, you’ll find postcards dating back to the turn of the century, actually signed by the senders. Far more formal than our current greeting cards, the postcards often served as invitations to accompany mothers to church services.

It may seem strange to send a non-travel related postcard to a loved one, but postcards were designed to make sending quick notes (even holiday greetings) more convenient.

Initially, the U.S. Postal Service was the only entity allowed to print “postcards,” causing private printing companies to dub their products, “souvenir cards.”

Postcards exploded in popularity after the Postal Service produced picture postcards for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Today, postcard collecting (or deltiology) is a hugely popular pastime, ranking behind only coin and stamp collecting in terms of participants. Larson says the wide variety of cards available coupled with their relatively low-cost, makes them an ideal collectible.

Created in 2004, Cardcow.com is considered one of largest online depositories of collectible postcards, with more than 100,000 cards available in over 300 categories. The site, founded by Eric Larson, offers both U.S. and foreign postcards dating from the late 1880s to the 1970s.

“I’ve always been interested in history and I think postcards provide a unique snapshot of 20th century history,” said Larson, who contributed the Mother’s Day post cards you can send from this site.

Collectible postcards on cardcow.com range in price from about $9 to $15, but Larson says that some cards that cross over into worlds of sports collecting or art collecting, can fetch hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Veteran collector Royce Bair has a penchant for very early postcards, created using a “chromolithographic printing process.”

“Most postcard illustrations prior to about 1920 were made by printing from as many as 16 stone blocks, and each color impression had to be exactly aligned for registration, or the color image would be blurred and rejected!” explains Bair, who contributed postcards for Worthpoint’s vintage Mother’s Day video.

Bair offers cards featuring the work of artist Bessie Pease at www.bessiepease.com. The cards date from about 1905 to 1920 and were often printed by the chromolithographic process. Pease was best known for her heartwarming paintings of children – sure to be a safe pick for any mother.

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