I've had this postcard in my craft room for quite some time, and I just love it. It's really quite special, because it has a puffy, two dimensional quality to it, as you can hopefully see in the picture. Don't you just want to squeeze it?
As I've promised to you before, I want to provide "easily digestible" bits of information about antiques and vintage collectibles to help arm you with knowledge.....knowledge that may spark a desire to start a collection, or simply make you a smarter buyer at flea markets or antique shops. Today, we have postcards......
Postcards were all the rage about 100 years ago. People collected them for their gorgeous images, and sent them on every occasion. We're talking about social media here, I suppose! Artists in Germany were producing wonderfully colorful and fanciful artwork during the "Golden Age" of postcards, between 1898 - 1918.
Postcards can be dated with several methods (if there is no postmark with the date). Did you know that from 1901 to 1907 the backs of postcards were undivided? That beginning in March 1907, backs were divided for the address and missive on the same side, preventing the face of the card from being written upon? Then, we have the era when white borders were introduced, in 1915. Within a couple years the postcard collecting craze had died. Maybe not because of the white borders, but the beautifully printed imports from Germany stopped due to WWI and American factories began filling the void.
These hand-colored, embossed paper cards sell for a couple dollars apiece in most shops. The little chicks below are outlined in tarnished silver glitter, and their shells spell out "Easter":
Actually, all of the cards in this post are embossed. I discovered a whole pile of embossed postcards in a box in my basement that I had forgotten about. What a great surprise to discover them!
I just don't think you can find a card prettier than this one:
What would someone write on such a lovely card as the one above? How about this:
"Hello Aunt Carrie how are you. We are all well. from Esther Miller"
Hmmm... kind of a letdown, isn't it? But I think Esther Miller was quite young judging by the handwriting, so we'll cut her some slack!
I hope you can print these out and use the artwork yourself for a birthday card or Easter greeting. The parrot below has applied velvet, metallic silver touches and the paper is beautifully pierced around the edges. Do you think this would hold up in today's mail?
Don't you think postcards would be a great collection a child could start? Inexpensive, plentiful, colorful, educational.....it's a no-brainer! Get your child or grandchild a handful of postcards and an acid-free album and there you go!
Just like with many collecting categories, condition is very important. Writing on the front, folds, missing corners, ink splotches, and other hazards that affect old paper will affect the value. If you are buying a common postcard, make sure it's in good condition.
I love this heavily embossed clam shell with touches of tarnished silver glitter.
I have a couple tips from personal experience buying postcards. First, antique dealers may not have their postcards prominently displayed. They may be under a table in a shoebox. So look there. The more organized dealer might have them in an album in those plastic slide-in pages. That's probably an acid-fest, so do try to rescue a few of the cards, OK? When you see a sign that says "All Postcards $1.00" you might find some good deals, because the dealer might not have had time to research the values and just wants to move them. If the cards are all dog-eared and the sign is all faded, they've probably been picked over already, numerous times.
This basket full of purple pansies may appear a bit blurry because the three large pansies in the front are actually velvet. That makes this card one of my favorites.
Most postcards from the Golden Age were primarily "greeting" cards, often with a holiday, birthday, or well-wishes theme. At auctions, the holiday postcards generate a lot of interest, and the rarer Halloween cards can sell for over a hundred dollars! Santa is also a big seller, and so is Krampus. Not familiar with Krampus? He was a European creation, an impish figure that sometimes resembled a devil. He accompanied St. Nicholas and helped distribute gifts to good children and adults, but also kept a pack on his back to hold captured naughty folks who were later punished or threatened until they would promise to behave the following year. Charming, huh? You won't find these rare holiday cards in an antique shop for $1.00, but you may find them at a garage sale in someone's "accumulation" if you are very lucky.
Many collectors go for themes such as transportation, or locations such as their home state, or art by known illustrators of the time, such as S.L. Schmucker, Ellen H. Clapsaddle, and Rose O'Neill (the Kewpie creator). There is so much to know about postcards! I hope this mini-lesson gives some of you a little information that may lead to greater things!