In the age of instantly sharing moments and memories through platforms such Instagram and Facebook, revisiting an era when the only photographic or illustrated memoir of a place usually meant a postcard, can be a lot of fun.
If you are looking for a small and lightweight collectible, then choose postcards. Manufacturers have been printing postcards since the early 1800s, and many antique or vintage postcards are valuable. Most postcards are made of thick paper or thin cardboard, but there are also postcards that are made of unique materials such as metal or fabric. Postcards with photographic scenes were often found at tourist or travel destinations throughout the 1900s, and someone could write a quick message on the back before mailing it to a friend or relative.
Many Postcards Were Sold at Special Events and Travel Destinations
The first commercially printed postcards were manufactured in 1861 but only had decorative borders rather than images. By 1870, postcards with images were available in a variety of sizes but were often used as decorative items because there was no place for a stamp. Eventually, the tourist industry began to understand the value of postcards for travelers who wanted to mail an inexpensive photographic image. In some cases, travelers mailed a postcard to their own address in order to have a souvenir of a trip.
It Is Difficult to Find Postcards In Good Condition
In the United States, the Postal Service had control over the manufacture of postcards until 1898, and by 1901, everyone was buying postcards while traveling. The new postcards followed the government’s regulations by having the back of each card divided into two sections. The left side was for the message while the right side was for the address. Not only did travelers buy cards to mail to other people, but also, they collected the cards themselves in order to have photographic souvenirs. Finding postcards from the 1800s isn’t easy because the materials often degraded after the items were handled multiple times to look at the images.
Postcards Are Available from Other Countries
When you visit an estate sale to look for postcards, it is possible to find postcards that were manufactured in the United States, but you might find postcards that were mailed from Great Britain or other countries. The best postcards to find are the ones that still have brightly colored images and no rips. If you can find a postcard with no writing on it, then it is likely worth more money, but many collectors enjoy reading the unique messages on the backs of postcards. In addition, a message, stamp or address can make it easier to determine the printing date of the card and where it was printed.
Protecting Your Postcards
Collectors who are devoted to postcards have multiple collection categories, and you might want to specialize in buying certain types of postcards. When you go to an estate sale, bring along protective gloves to handle postcards to avoid damaging the items with skin oils. After buying a postcard, store it carefully in an acid-free archival box or album to keep it from degrading. To prevent fading and discoloration, avoid displaying the postcards in direct sunlight.
Prestige Estate Services
2201 Kipling Street, Suite 101
Lakewood, CO 80215