A Brief Introduction to the World of Postcard Collecting
Before the advent of telephones and the internet, it was common for people to communicate by mail. It wasn’t always possible or reasonable to hop into a carriage or onto a train and travel for hours, days or months to see one another. So, if they wanted to make plans to meet, or even just wanted to say “hello” to their loved ones, the mail was the only feasible way to do so.
In the late 1800s, soon after governments in Europe and the United States allowed postcards to be mailed, businesses began using the newly improved printing processes to produce colorful postcards. This innovation resulted in a postcard craze. A huge number of postcards were produced during this time by companies around the world.
Beginning in the early 1900s, publishers in England produced quality children’s postcards in sets of six. Aunts and grandmothers who lived in other towns or cities and fathers who were away from home for work or were in the war – all sent postcards to children. They sent them at Christmas time and for their birthdays. They sent them at Easter and they sent them when they went away on holiday. Many of the children saved cards, some in albums. Postcard collecting was popular among adults as well and the craze continued up until the beginning of World War II. Then, the decrease in economic activity due to the war in combination with with an increase of the use of the telephone resulted in a gradual shift away from postcards.
While fewer postcards are produced today, postcard collecting remains a popular pursuit because beautiful old postcards are still available for reasonable prices.
The most common types of postcards collected are views of cities and real photographs. These card types are popular among collectors who love history or are nostalgic for the old places they remember that may no longer exist. Artist Signed and topical postcards are also popular categories perhaps because of their artistic value or because they invoke happy memories of times past.
There are many artists and an almost unlimited number of topics one could collect. Sometimes the postcards people choose to collect seem unlikely: roosters, goats, mosquitos, homemade postcards, mothers with children, hotel interiors, restaurants, angry santas, people throwing up. You name it – somebody probably collects it!
Modern postcards are, in my view, those published from the 1960’s onward. Modern postcards are almost always made in the larger “contintental” size: 4″ x 6″ while most vintage postcards are 3-1/2″ x 5-1/2.”
Some postcard collectors refuse to collect continental-sized and/or modern postcards. While the vast majority of the cards in my collection are vintage, I acquire modern cards if I think the images will add something to my collection. I also think that by buying modern postcards, in my own way, I am helping to encourage their continued existence. So, you will see examples of modern postcards on this website. My scans are all the same size but I do specify when a card is modern versus vintage.