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Think About Collecting Postcards, a Wonderful Hobby for All

Updated on April 8, 2016
SheilaMilne profile image

I have been collecting postcards all my life as my father did before me. I now have many thousands of them, both vintage and modern.

Source

My Name is Sheila...

... and I am a postcard addict.

I blame my father. He was a postcard addict before me, and taught me all I know.

As a young man he travelled with the army, and later with his work. I feel the postcards were a way for him to continue his travelling days if only in spirit. He asked everyone he met to send him a postcard so you can imagine his collection became quite substantial though, I have to confess, completely haphazard. He added to it by finding postcards in flea markets and the type of junk shop that has now become an "antique" shop.

I have inherited that collection and continue to add to it, again and again and again...

Postcrossing logo
Postcrossing logo

10 Ways to Add to a Collection

There are so many ways.

  1. When I'm visiting anywhere new I buy myself cards.

    Obviously that is the straightforward and easy way. However I do prefer my cards to be written and mailed with a real stamp (nothing machine printed), so that requires extra effort that doesn't always happen.
  2. I belong to Postcrossing (send a postcard and receive one back).

    This is the best way of all, as far as I'm concerned. Not only is there the random element of receiving a card from anywhere in the world on the official site, but you can also join the forum for "unofficial" exchanges, round robins and all variations of that theme.
  3. On Swap-bot you can exchange all sorts of things, including postcards, depending on the swap you join: tea bags, envelopes, letters, candy, to name but a few.
  4. Walltype* is another postcard project but the exchanges are arranged in themes such as cities, maps, flowers. The most popular, though, is the theme of "any card". :)
  5. If you want something altogether more random, try Sendsomething.net which works completely differently. You register your interests, look for people with similar interests and send them something. I see they still say they are in beta testing. They have been for years as far as I remember.
  6. Ebay is a good source for collections or for special cards.

    I have a few favourite sellers who I consider reliable. Some sell large lots which is a very economical way of growing a collection.
  7. I exchange with people on my blog, A Postcard a Day.

    This is starting to grow in frequency which is great fun. I regularly offer give-aways too.
  8. Local auctions.

    A great place for buying complete and older collections, but it can be expensive if other people have the same idea.
  9. Flea markets and boot sales.

    The fun of the chase! Sometimes this can be very successful but at other times postcards are nowhere to be seen.
  10. And on a couple of occasions, friends have given me some of theirs they no longer wanted.

Postcard Books or Boxes

If you are thinking of joining any postcard exchanges, you will need a supply of postcards. Obviously you will be able to buy locally cards which illustrate your local area (though I have come to learn that it isn't so easy for everyone) but in time you will want to find more variety. Amazon is a good source of postcards which come in "books" or more recently in boxed sets.

Books have the disadvantage of having the cards attached together in some way, either perforated edges or by gum. The perforations look messy, though I know not everyone minds, and to my way of thinking they need to be trimmed - but very carefully! Gummed books do normally leave a clean edge on the card but detaching them without bending the card or, worse, tearing it, requires patience.

Flower-Fairies Postcard Book
Flower-Fairies Postcard Book

I think this is the same edition as the book of Flower Fairies I bought. They are always very popular. I confess to being surprised at the number of people who collect fairies.

 
Postcards From Puffin: 100 Book Covers in One Box
Postcards From Puffin: 100 Book Covers in One Box

I haven't (yet) bought this collection though I'm very tempted. These boxes of cards are always very good quality. My only reservation is that 100 cards on the same theme is sometimes overkill and you tend to end up with leftovers. They are however exceptionally good value.

 
Handmade postcard from postage stamps and a piece of a map.
Handmade postcard from postage stamps and a piece of a map. | Source

Why Do I Collect Postcards?

Postcards have endless fascinations, more than just being pretty pictures. Of course some are outstandingly beautiful, works of art in their own right, but others inform and educate. How many people know where the new eastern European countries are? Do you know all the 50 states in the USA? How tea is grown? Do you know the history of the postal services? The countries of Africa?

And what are the component parts of the Union Flag, and why is it commonly known as the Union Jack?

All these questions and more can be answered just by collecting postcards and finding out a little about each as it arrives.

Map cards I have received
Map cards I have received

Themes

Although my father was a somewhat haphazard collector, even he had preferred themes. His favourite theme was that of old buildings, especially ones likely to be demolished, closely followed by hospitals or statues of medical men.

Some of favourite themes I've noticed being requested again and again on Postcrossing are:

  • Nouvelles Images multiples
  • Cards showing sites listed as one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.
  • Map cards
  • Black & white
  • Royalty
  • Recipe cards or food/drink
  • Sport
  • Advertising cards (this is very definitely a "love them or hate them" theme, what we in the Uk would call a Marmite)

Of course there are many, many others

What sort of postcards do you like?

Postcard made from photo of trees in the sunset
Postcard made from photo of trees in the sunset | Source

No two people have the same preferences, but I wonder which are the most popular themes for postcards. Have I missed something vital? If so, tell me in the comments

Which postcards do you like the best?

See results

The Postcard: A Voyage of Discovery

This really and truly could be me talking (but it isn't). I wish I could be so eloquent about my hobby.

It shows the fact that I can't resist the small card oblong which opens up its own little universe.

How to keep your postcards under control
If you become smitten by the postcard collecting bug, and I warn you it can be very addictive, you will very soon start to wonder what to do with them all. Y...

Let me know what you collect, postcards or otherwise

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