Collecting Antique Postcards - A Beginner's Guide

Collecting antique postcards can be an entertaining hobby as well as a learning experience. I collect only the greeting cards from the early 1900's. But there are numerous other types and varieties of postcards to collect. Many people will pick a theme, such as a certain city or country, or perhaps a particular animal, etc. There's no end to what you can collect.


Where To Find Cards

You might be asking "But where can I find cards?" The best way is if you can attend a local post card show. I have one in a nearby city that is twice a year. You should be able to do a search for paper or postcard shows to find any that are near you. At the show, there will be tables with people selling postcards. They are usually in boxes and will be categorized by subject or type. I always look for the special sale ones that might be as low as 25 cents each to $1.00 each. You might have to hunt through hundreds of cards to find the type you're looking for, however, so be prepared to spend the better part of a day there. The hunt is part of the fun of collecting, though. For most cards, expect to pay two to five dollars each for the common ones. Rare cards can go anywhere up from there, even into the hundreds of dollars for a single card.

Another good place to find cards is Ebay. I've bought many from Ebay, either individually when I find one that is part of a set I have (or I just like it) or I will buy them in a lot of many cards. When buying in lots, you might get a few you really like along with many you don't like or some you already have, but many sellers show all postcards in the lot so you know pretty well what you will be getting. Some, however, only show a representative few of the cards in the lot, so it's a grab bag. But that can be fun and exciting, too. Prices can vary from a dollar or two to five or six dollars for common ones, going up from there for the rarer ones. Of course, shipping is added on top of that. Some people charge crazy high prices for common cards, too, and I have no idea what's up with that.


Storing and Organizing your Cards

You've purchased some cards and now what? The first thing you want to do is put them in protective sleeves (see photo at right). These sleeves will protect your cards when you handle them to sort and look at them. Many of these cards are around a hundred years old, so you want to protect them from the oils from your hands. You can buy these sleeves on Amazon, Ebay or many places where trading cards are sold.

I have two types of storage I use for my postcards. One is photo storage books that have slots for two cards on a page (I bought these at a discount store). The other type are pages that you can get with 4 slots to a page and they have 3 holes for using in 3-ring binders. These can be purchased on Amazon or Ebay and you can find them by searching for "4 pocket pages".

As you accumulate more and more cards, you will need to organize them so you can find ones you're looking for. I sort mine by topic and also keep the vertical and horizontal ones separate so I don't have to keep turning the book to look at them. I have separate books for the sets. In addition, after sorting by topic, I'll put similar styles together. In doing that, I often find new sets, but it's also easier to find duplicates. I frequently end up with duplicate cards and will choose the one in the best condition and put the other one in my box for selling on Ebay.

This is the type of pages I use with the 3-ring binders.  They are clear and made from archival quality material.  You can put a total of 8 cards on each page, having 4 of them back to back.
This is the type of pages I use with the 3-ring binders. They are clear and made from archival quality material. You can put a total of 8 cards on each page, having 4 of them back to back.
This is a picture of 4 cards in the photo book.
This is a picture of 4 cards in the photo book.
This photo shows the binder open with two pages of cards showing, using the above card holders.
This photo shows the binder open with two pages of cards showing, using the above card holders.
This is how I store my binders and photo books.  The smaller books are the photo books.
This is how I store my binders and photo books. The smaller books are the photo books.

You probably wonder what I do with all my cards now that I have them. Mostly they sit on the shelf happily in their binders. Sometimes I take them out and look at them. Sometimes I rearrange them. Sometimes I take them out and draw them or use them as inspiration for drawings. Sometimes I scan them into my computer and use bits and pieces of them for graphics. Now I hope to share many of them with all of you via Hub Pages. They are just too beautiful to hide away.

Happy collecting!

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