Collecting Vintage Postcards

Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard

Collecting Vintage Postcards Is The Third Largest Hobby!

Collecting vintage postcards is a much loved hobby enjoyed by people around the world. Postcards rank as the third largest collectable items in the world, only being surpassed by stamp and coin collecting! The proper name for postcard collecting is actually deltiolgy.

For years it was thought that postcards were first offered for sale at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois in May of 1893. These postcards depicted views of the Exposition and the surrounding buildings. They were sold as both advertisements and souvenirs.

Through extensive studies, it is now known that there were much earlier postcards that were also directed toward advertising. The earliest postcard known has a postmark of December, 1848. And, as studies dig deeper into history many more postcards are sure to turn up.

Vintage Lady Liberty Postcard
Vintage Lady Liberty Postcard

Postcards that were made before 1898 were only allowed to be marked as “Postcard” if it was government issued. Private postcards were marked either “Souvenir Card”, “Mail Card” or “Correspondence Card” on the back. Government issued postcards will also have the postage imprinted on the card.

While it only cost one cent to mail a government postcard, private postcards required two cents postage! By 1898, the government allowed private publishers to mark their postcards as “Private Mailing Card” and photo postcards began appearing just a few years later. And, by 1901, the government relaxed the laws and allowed printer to sell post cards that were actually marked “Postcard”.

The first known postcard that was issued a copyright was in 1861 and the U.S. government began issuing postcards in 1873. Although, it is known that plain postcards had already been used much earlier. The more decorative picture postcards began appearing in Europe in 1870.

Before 1907, it was actually illegal to write any messages on the side of a postcard that had the address. For this reason earlier postcards used before 1907 will have messages written on the front. And, most during that time may only have the address filled out with no writing on the picture side.

The introduction of a small Kodak camera in 1906 opened up the way to create postcards much like we know today. The camera provided the way for individuals to take pictures and have them printed directly onto paper that had postcard backings.

In 1908, collecting picture postcards became the largest hobby the world had ever known. In that year the U.S. Post Office reported that almost 700,000,000 postcards had been mailed. The number is astonishing considering that at that time the total population in the U.S. was only around 89,000,000!

Many collectors concentrate on post cards from certain eras or certain publishers. While others concentrate on post cards of a specific theme, such as animals, architecture and travel based post cards. But, whatever type you decide to collect, you’ll have a limitless supply of choices.

With the long history behind collecting vintage postcards, it’s plain to see that it’s a hobby that’s never going to go away. If you’re looking for a new hobby, you may want to join the millions of other people around the world in collecting vintage postcards.

It’s a fairly inexpensive hobby to have and requires very little space for storage. And, while postcards that were never used are a rare find, most collectors that just love vintage postcards feel that the messages and addresses just add to the cards history and personality.

Written by Connie Corder, Copyright 2008

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