Collecting Vintage Photos

Why would someone want to collect vintage photographs?

People collect them for a variety of reasons. Probably the major reason that people collect vintage photographs is that they enjoy looking at the images. When you look at a vintage photo you are looking into someone else's life. You are looking backwards through time and into an era that no longer exists, nor will exist ever again.

By collecting these images you are helping to preserve them for future generations. And who knows? You may come across an image that is worth thousands of dollars.

It could happen!

Image:Morguefile.com
Image:Morguefile.com

How to Decide What to Collect

The hardest part of collecting anything is deciding exactly what to collect.

How specific do you want to be? Will you collect vintage architectural photographs or just houses, or even just houses with women standing on the porch? The ability to be as specific or as all- encompassing as you want to be is one of the benefits of photography collecting.

Some of the most popular subjects are:

  • women
  • children
  • holidays
  • architecture
  • sports
  • famous people
  • post cards
  • wedding portraits
  • vintage movie photos
  • vintage glamour photos
  • vintage military photos

Within those categories are hundreds of possibilities for sub-categories. There are other collecting criteria that you can use.

  • the artist

  • the subject of the image

  • the date the image was taken

  • a certain area of the country

  • signed photographs

All of these make good vintage photograph collections.

Vintage Photos as an Investment

Collecting vintage photos can be an investment but for most people it is just a passion like any other collection. The images will not lose money so you can plan to sell them for at least what you bought them for, at least most of the time. They may not go up in value though so you need to decide if you want to collect or you want to invest. If you wish to invest then gold and crude oil are doing very well at the moment.

There are photographers whose work is so sought after that collectors will pay top dollar, sometimes thousands, for it. Names like Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Mary Ellen Mark come to mind. Images by these photographers are sold in galleries and command the highest prices.

Other types of photographs may be great investments without costing your yearly take home pay. Most vintage photographs are very affordable, and many are under five dollars.

A couple of tips for collecting with an eye to investing:

  • Try to choose a popular genre.

  • Collect originals that are in good condition.

  • Display and store them carefully.

Where to Find Vintage Photographs?

You have decided on your genre and your budget, now where do you find these great photos?

Ebay, of course is one of the best resources out there for vintage photographic images. Always work with a reputable dealer. Ask questions and be sure you understand the payment and return policies.

You may find vintage images other places for less money. Consider local venues such as:

  • thrift stores

  • antique shops

  • garage sales

  • a relative's attic

How to Care for Your Collectible Photographs

  • Use acid free products. Album pages, photo corners and storage boxes will keep your photographs in good condition.
  • Use plastic page protectors if you must but make sure that they are PVC free. It is a chemical that will turn your images yellow and can also make them sticky.
  • Store them in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight. To display our images use metal frames rather than wood. Wood contains acids that can react with your images.
  • If you will be matting your image use acid free mat board, acid free linen tape, and acid free photo corners.
  • Use glass in the frame that blocks the UV rays. You can get this at many frame stores

Enjoy Your Collection

Most of all, remember to enjoy your vintage photo collection! Add to it as you find things that you absolutely love. Share the images with your family and friends. Hours spent looking at these amazing bits of history are memorable. Once you start collecting you may not be able to stop!

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Comments 8 comments

Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet 4 years ago from Lancaster, Texas Author

Wow... Thank you!


PETER UNDERHILL profile image

PETER UNDERHILL 4 years ago

Marye Audet

Your are a real gem, and I say that not because I am a Texan too. You are one of the creative people who bring new life to this world and particularly the world of writers, and would-be writers. You are a confidence builder.


FW Keyes profile image

FW Keyes 5 years ago

I love old photographs,I hadn't thought about collecting old photographs though, I use them mainly for ephemera projects.

Thank you for such an interesting post.


pugmom620 7 years ago

I love the article. I collect vintage photos and reap picture postcards with dogs and horses as the main subject. Getting very popular, as I used to be an only bidder for a long time for example, on ebay, and now Im always getting out bid! So much fun , and I really enjoy them.


MtnMan56 profile image

MtnMan56 8 years ago

I collect pictures,put them up,and forget them!Thanks for the article.It's great!


Marlene_OnTheWall profile image

Marlene_OnTheWall 8 years ago from Singapore

I love old photos. particularly of places as they were long ago. It's so interesting to look back and see what a place used to look like. thanks for an interesting article!


jacobworld profile image

jacobworld 8 years ago from Ireland

I have a friend in Ireland that is collecting them and has lots of interesting ones.

The only problem there is that he needs lots of room for them LOL


donnaleemason profile image

donnaleemason 8 years ago from North Dakota, USA

That was very interesting Marye!

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