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Postcards

Plain postcards were used by government postal agencies in the mid-1800s. Called "postals," these postcards had the postage from each country already applied. John P. Charlton of Philadelphia invented the private postcard in 1861. The patent for this postcard was later transferred to H.L. Lipman. These postcards were used in the United States until 1873, when government postcards appeared. In other countries, picture postcards began appearing about 1869.

While private postcards produced in other countries can be much older, privately manufactured postcards were not allowed in the United States until May 19, 1898. After this date, a much larger variety of postcards appeared on the market. Writing was not allowed on the address side of postcards, so the person sending the card had to write messages across the picture on the front.

Photo postcards were first published around 1900. Writing was still required to be across the front of the card, but starting with England in 1902, countries gradually allowed postcards to have a divided back. This design put the address on one side and space for a message on the other. The United States began to allow the divided back in 1907, and after this date, postcards became enormously popular. Today, collecting vintage postcards is one of the most popular collecting hobbies in America, preceded only by the collecting of stamps and coins.


Quick Facts

  • A survey of the world's best selling art postcards listed the postcard of Claude Monet's "Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies" from 1899 as the world's best selling art postcard
  • The hobby of postcard collecting is called "deltiology." Professor Randall Rhoades of Ashland, Ohio coined this term in 1945
  • Swiss businessman Adolf Feller acquired the world's largest collection of vintage postcards from the late 1890s until his death in 1931. The collection is now held by Swiss university ETH Zurich and includes more than 54,000 examples

Recommended Items at Auction

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Vintage Penn Central Post Magazines Paper Postcards Group Lot
Oct 29, 5:00 PM EDT
Vintage Penn Central Post Magazines Paper Postcards Group Lot
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$195 Bids
Antique Real Photo Postcard Christmas Noel
Oct 28, 5:00 PM EDT
Antique Real Photo Postcard Christmas Noel
by Artelisted
Est: $30- $100
$184 Bids
Antique Real Photo Postcard Christmas Noel
Oct 28, 5:00 PM EDT
Antique Real Photo Postcard Christmas Noel
by Artelisted
Est: $30- $100
$184 Bids
2- EARLY GERMAN HALLOWEEN POST CARDS
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
2- EARLY GERMAN HALLOWEEN POST CARDS
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$303 Bids
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Christmas Noel
Oct 28, 5:00 PM EDT
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Christmas Noel
by Artelisted
Est: $30- $100
$143 Bids
JACK DEMPSEY's Restaurant Autographed
Oct 28, 11:00 AM EDT
JACK DEMPSEY's Restaurant Autographed
by Premier Auctions Live
Est: $25- $50
$203 Bids
[GAMBLING]. A GROUP OF 18 PHOTOGRAPHS AND POSTCARDS. CONSIS...
Nov 20, 10:00 AM CST
[GAMBLING]. A GROUP OF 18 PHOTOGRAPHS AND POSTCARDS. CONSIS...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $100- $150
$502 Bids
Bicycle Postcards
Nov 13, 10:00 AM EST
Bicycle Postcards
by Copake Auction Inc.
Est: $50- $75
$302 Bids
[CHINA]. PRE 1940 CHINA AND CHINATOWN POSTCARD COLLECTION. ...
Nov 20, 10:00 AM CST
[CHINA]. PRE 1940 CHINA AND CHINATOWN POSTCARD COLLECTION. ...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $200- $300
$1252 Bids
Bicycle & Motorcycle Lot
Nov 13, 10:00 AM EST
Bicycle & Motorcycle Lot
by Copake Auction Inc.
Est: $50- $75
$302 Bids
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Advertising
Oct 28, 5:00 PM EDT
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Advertising
by Artelisted
Est: $30- $100
$102 Bids
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Christmas Noel
Oct 28, 5:00 PM EDT
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Christmas Noel
by Artelisted
Est: $30- $100
$122 Bids
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Indian Signed
Oct 28, 5:00 PM EDT
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Indian Signed
by Artelisted
Est: $30- $100
$102 Bids
§ BANKSY (BRITISH B. 1974)
Nov 03, 2:00 PM GMT
§ BANKSY (BRITISH B. 1974)
by Chiswick Auctions
Est: £200- £300
£502 Bids
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Andy Warhol - Skulls - 1990 7" x 9"
Nov 16, 11:15 AM EST
Andy Warhol - Skulls - 1990 7" x 9"
by DUMBO Auctions
Est: $125- $175
$202 Bids
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Fine Art Nude
Oct 28, 5:00 PM EDT
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Fine Art Nude
by Artelisted
Est: $30- $100
$101 Bid
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Nude Dakar Female
Oct 28, 5:00 PM EDT
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Nude Dakar Female
by Artelisted
Est: $30- $100
$101 Bid
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Seminude Arab Female
Oct 28, 5:00 PM EDT
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Seminude Arab Female
by Artelisted
Est: $30- $100
$101 Bid
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Thanksgiving
Oct 28, 5:00 PM EDT
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Thanksgiving
by Artelisted
Est: $30- $100
$101 Bid
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Gen. Robert Lee
Oct 28, 5:00 PM EDT
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Gen. Robert Lee
by Artelisted
Est: $30- $100
$101 Bid
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Illust. Deco Nouveau
Oct 28, 5:00 PM EDT
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Illust. Deco Nouveau
by Artelisted
Est: $30- $100
$101 Bid
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Indian Canadian
Oct 28, 5:00 PM EDT
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Indian Canadian
by Artelisted
Est: $30- $100
$101 Bid
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Colored Illustration
Oct 28, 5:00 PM EDT
Antique Vintage Rare Postcard Colored Illustration
by Artelisted
Est: $30- $100
$101 Bid
[CUBA]. COLLECTION OF CUBAN POSTCARDS. OVER 60 POSTCARDS OF...
Nov 20, 10:00 AM CST
[CUBA]. COLLECTION OF CUBAN POSTCARDS. OVER 60 POSTCARDS OF...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $150- $200
$801 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Postcards


Holabird Western Americana

Holabird Western Americana

Artelisted

Artelisted

Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.

Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.

Soler y Llach

Soler y Llach