Loading Spinner

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

See all items

Group of 8 Early Halloween Postcards E Von, Lion Head, Artist International Publishing
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
Group of 8 Early Halloween Postcards E Von, Lion Head, Artist International Publishing
by Regency Antique Books
Est: $75- $100
$2008 Bids
Group of 3 Early Halloween Postcards Series B37 Witchcraft Witches Embossed
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
Group of 3 Early Halloween Postcards Series B37 Witchcraft Witches Embossed
by Regency Antique Books
Est: $75- $100
$2258 Bids
Box Full of First Day Covers
Dec 10, 9:30 AM EST
Box Full of First Day Covers
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$805 Bids
Collection of 12 Orange Bordered Early Halloween Postcards Jack O’ Lanterns
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
Collection of 12 Orange Bordered Early Halloween Postcards Jack O’ Lanterns
by Regency Antique Books
Est: $75- $100
$1755 Bids
8 postcards of Eastern European Jews. The beginning of the 20th century
Dec 05, 7:00 PM IST
8 postcards of Eastern European Jews. The beginning of the 20th century
by Dynasty
Est: $0- $0
$2004 Bids
Group of 3 Early Halloween Postcards Rare Advertising Miss Perkins Dress Maker Max Schmidt
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
Group of 3 Early Halloween Postcards Rare Advertising Miss Perkins Dress Maker Max Schmidt
by Regency Antique Books
Est: $75- $100
$1754 Bids
Group of 6 Early Halloween Postcards G D & D, Whitney, B Hoffman & Others Ghosts Jack O’ Lantern
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
Group of 6 Early Halloween Postcards G D & D, Whitney, B Hoffman & Others Ghosts Jack O’ Lantern
by Regency Antique Books
Est: $75- $100
$1254 Bids
34 VINTAGE NEW OLD STOCK 1964/65 NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR POSTCARD
Dec 02, 4:00 PM EST
34 VINTAGE NEW OLD STOCK 1964/65 NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR POSTCARD
by Diefenderfer Auction Company
Est: $0- $0
$144 Bids
Santa Rosa Howard Street Gang Lynching: Boyd, Fritts and Valento RPPC Postcard
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
Santa Rosa Howard Street Gang Lynching: Boyd, Fritts and Valento RPPC Postcard
by Regency Antique Books
Est: $75- $100
$1504 Bids
Beautiful Collection of 102 Ellen Clapsaddle Christmas Postcards Mostly Early & Embossed
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
Beautiful Collection of 102 Ellen Clapsaddle Christmas Postcards Mostly Early & Embossed
by Regency Antique Books
Est: $75- $100
$703 Bids
Group of 3 Early Halloween Postcards Jack O’ Lantern Geisha Black Cats & Witches
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
Group of 3 Early Halloween Postcards Jack O’ Lantern Geisha Black Cats & Witches
by Regency Antique Books
Est: $75- $100
$703 Bids
Collection of 13 Early Halloween Postcards Mixed Series Bat Borders Jack O’ Lantern
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
Collection of 13 Early Halloween Postcards Mixed Series Bat Borders Jack O’ Lantern
by Regency Antique Books
Est: $75- $100
$1753 Bids
Group of 6 Early Halloween Postcards Gibson, Nash & Others Witches Jack O’ Lantern
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
Group of 6 Early Halloween Postcards Gibson, Nash & Others Witches Jack O’ Lantern
by Regency Antique Books
Est: $75- $100
$1253 Bids
Group of 3 Early Halloween Postcards Fantasy Goblins & Witches. Nash H-12
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
Group of 3 Early Halloween Postcards Fantasy Goblins & Witches. Nash H-12
by Regency Antique Books
Est: $75- $100
$1003 Bids
NICE COLLECTION OF ANTIQUE AND VINTAGE HOILDAY AND BIRTHDAY POSTCARDS
Dec 02, 4:00 PM EST
NICE COLLECTION OF ANTIQUE AND VINTAGE HOILDAY AND BIRTHDAY POSTCARDS
by Diefenderfer Auction Company
Est: $0- $0
$143 Bids
A Large Box of Tribal Art Exhibition Invitations and Post Cards
Dec 05, 6:00 PM AEDT
A Large Box of Tribal Art Exhibition Invitations and Post Cards
by Theodore Bruce
Est: AUD20- AUD30
AUD253 Bids
Box Full of Mostly US Envelopes
Dec 10, 9:30 AM EST
Box Full of Mostly US Envelopes
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$302 Bids
Lot of (5) Zeppelin Covers.
Dec 15, 11:00 AM EST
Lot of (5) Zeppelin Covers.
by Weiss Auctions
Est: $150- $300
$802 Bids
Lot of (5) Zeppelin Covers.
Dec 15, 11:00 AM EST
Lot of (5) Zeppelin Covers.
by Weiss Auctions
Est: $150- $300
$852 Bids
5 ANTIQUE US CELEABRATION POSTCARDS
Dec 02, 4:00 PM EST
5 ANTIQUE US CELEABRATION POSTCARDS
by Diefenderfer Auction Company
Est: $0- $0
$122 Bids
Collection of 70 Early Embossed Christmas Postcards International Art, S.Garre & Others
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
Collection of 70 Early Embossed Christmas Postcards International Art, S.Garre & Others
by Regency Antique Books
Est: $75- $100
$502 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Postcards


Artelisted

Artelisted

Yardley Antiques

Yardley Antiques

Levy Auction House

Levy Auction House

Regency Antique Books

Regency Antique Books