Sunday, April 13, 2008

Post Cards

Post cards are a window to our past, especially picture post cards. Many depict real life scenes, historical buildings, social issues, people, fashion, roads, entertainers, entertainment and life in general.

John P. Charlton patented Post Cards back in the early 1860’s. He sold his patent rights to H.L. Lipman and the very first mass produced cards were called Lipman's Postal Cards. It wasn't long before other countries started producing post cards.
The USPS had a monopoly on pre-stamped post cards and if you wanted to write a quick note, it had to be written and sent on an USPS approved postcard. It actually took an act of Congress to pass a special act called the Private Mailing Card Act to release the monopoly in 1898. However, the USPS refused to give up the name post card so publishers had to call their cards souvenir cards.
In 1901 USPS decided to give up the monopoly on the word post card and let private publishers call their cards post cards too. Up until 1908 USPS rules on sending a postcard only allowed a person to write on the front side of a post card. The backside of the post card was for the address. By 1908 that particular restriction was lifted.
Here are some tips to date your vintage postcards: The earliest souvenir postcards date back to 1893, they had a small picture on the front with a large L-shaped border or a small space within the picture for people to write their message on. In 1901 the postcards with the large written “Post Card” on the reverse side was introduced and was used for address only. In 1907 the divided back post cards were introduced to the United States, and the restricted writing on the back was lifted. Real Photo Post Cards (RPPC) were introduced in 1908 and was popular through the 1950's. In 1916 white border post cards were introduced and were popular until 1930. The Linen post cards were introduced in 1931 and were popular until 1939. In 1939 the Chrome Cards or colored photo cards were introduced but it wasn't until 1950 that these were used predominately, this type of postcard is still used today.
Collectors can find many vintage and antique post cards on eBay, in flea markets, antique stores, and estate auctions. Some of these postcards are quite valuable. Many people that collect postcards have a passion for their local history. I find that, as a seller, I have good luck selling vintage postcards of town or city scenes. Another highly collectible type of postcard is antique holiday post cards. Valentine, St. Patrick Day, New Years, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas post cards are also very popular.
Regardless if you are a collector or a seller, you can’t help but look through them, the sorting and reading the history is very addictive. I bought about two hundred post cards the other day at an estate sale and once I got them home I spent hours looking them over. The two pictures at the top are some of the post cards I bought. The first group are linen post cards from the 1930's and the second group are Black and White RPPC picture postcards from the 1930's and 40's.

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