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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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Postcard Collection
May 25, 9:00 AM EDT
Postcard Collection
by Dovetail Auctions, LLC
Est: $5- $500
$255 Bids
JEAN MICHEL BASQUIAT (1960 - 1988)
May 21, 10:00 AM CEST
JEAN MICHEL BASQUIAT (1960 - 1988)
by DEWIT Auctions
Est: €100- €200
€1604 Bids
Early Post Cards-Boats/Cities
May 30, 10:00 AM CDT
Early Post Cards-Boats/Cities
by Cedarburg Auction & Appraisals LLC
Est: $150- $250
$604 Bids
Antique c. 1915 Vittorio Emanuele Boeri "And Death Side by Side" Propaganda Postcard
May 27, 5:00 PM EDT
Antique c. 1915 Vittorio Emanuele Boeri "And Death Side by Side" Propaganda Postcard
by One Source Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$303 Bids
Vintage Postcard Album with hundreds of postcards
Jun 22, 9:30 AM EDT
Vintage Postcard Album with hundreds of postcards
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$403 Bids
Scarce Original (No Repro.) BUNNY YEAGER Pin Up Postcard
May 23, 5:00 PM EDT
Scarce Original (No Repro.) BUNNY YEAGER Pin Up Postcard
by Artelisted
Est: $20- $100
$203 Bids
Scarce Original (No Repro.) BUNNY YEAGER Pin Up Postcard
May 23, 5:00 PM EDT
Scarce Original (No Repro.) BUNNY YEAGER Pin Up Postcard
by Artelisted
Est: $20- $100
$143 Bids
Post Card Collection
May 25, 9:00 AM EDT
Post Card Collection
by Dovetail Auctions, LLC
Est: $5- $500
$253 Bids
Postcards and First Day issues
May 25, 9:00 AM EDT
Postcards and First Day issues
by Dovetail Auctions, LLC
Est: $5- $500
$102 Bids
Scarce Original (No Repro.) BUNNY YEAGER Pin Up Postcard
May 23, 5:00 PM EDT
Scarce Original (No Repro.) BUNNY YEAGER Pin Up Postcard
by Artelisted
Est: $20- $100
$142 Bids
LEATHER POSTCARD LOT OF 45 1906 1907 STAMPED
May 22, 9:00 AM EDT
LEATHER POSTCARD LOT OF 45 1906 1907 STAMPED
by Affiliated Auctions & Realty LLC
Est: $100- $200
$402 Bids
Scarce Original (No Repro.) BUNNY YEAGER Pin Up Postcard
May 23, 5:00 PM EDT
Scarce Original (No Repro.) BUNNY YEAGER Pin Up Postcard
by Artelisted
Est: $20- $100
$122 Bids
Scarce Original (No Repro.) BUNNY YEAGER Pin Up Postcard
May 23, 5:00 PM EDT
Scarce Original (No Repro.) BUNNY YEAGER Pin Up Postcard
by Artelisted
Est: $20- $100
$142 Bids
Scarce Original (No Repro.) BUNNY YEAGER Pin Up Postcard
May 23, 5:00 PM EDT
Scarce Original (No Repro.) BUNNY YEAGER Pin Up Postcard
by Artelisted
Est: $20- $100
$142 Bids
Immense Lot of Antique Post Cards
May 30, 10:00 AM CDT
Immense Lot of Antique Post Cards
by Cedarburg Auction & Appraisals LLC
Est: $200- $300
$302 Bids
Rare North Carolina UNC Postcard Estate Collection
Jun 01, 10:00 AM EDT
Rare North Carolina UNC Postcard Estate Collection
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $100- $10,000
$552 Bids
(10) Fillmore & Avalon Concert Postcards/Handbills
May 21, 10:00 AM EDT
(10) Fillmore & Avalon Concert Postcards/Handbills
by Weiss Auctions
Est: $200- $300
$1201 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Postcards


One Source Auctions

One Source Auctions

Artelisted

Artelisted

Berliner Auktionshaus GmbH & Co. KG

Berliner Auktionshaus GmbH & Co. KG

Soler y Llach

Soler y Llach