2. WHERE TO BUY Ė Postcard Fairs

The mechanics of buying depends a lot on the type of person you are and how much time you can spend on searching out those elusive cards. However, for the complete novice the easiest way to get started on a collection is by visiting a postcard fair or local Antique and Collectors fair, so here I will be concentrating on them.

Most Postcard Fairs are listed in PPM under the Events Diary, you can judge the likely size of a fair by the number of dealers expected and therefore the amount of choice youíll have, for larger fairs it is best to set aside the whole day for your visit, depending on your stamina! Antique fairs are generally listed in the local press and may only have one or two local dealers, allowing you a shorter visit but much less choice.

Your initial visit to a largish postcard fair may seem rather daunting, they are generally held in sports halls or venues of similar size, and are full of dealers and collectors who all seem to know what they are doing. However, if you take your time just looking around you can gain a lot of valuable information. Prices of cards can be compared between Dealers as well as who has the best stock of the types you are interested in and so offers the greater choice.

White Star Line Shipping RMS Cedric
White Star Liner RMS Celtic Shipping is a category that varies enormously in price. Typically shipping line cards are priced at between £3 and £5 and it is only with experience that you can discover their proper price. This one cost £5.00.

On arrival you will generally be given a map of the layout of the fair, the names of the dealers and where they are from. This will help you, not only to approach the fair with some degree of logic, but will help to recognize dealers at subsequent fairs. Dealers are, on the whole, both friendly and helpful, they know their way around their stock better than anyone so donít be afraid to ask for the type of cards you are looking for. Cards are filed either in front or behind their subject heading so it is a good idea to check before diving in. Handling the cards with care and replacing them after use is only common courtesy, some cards are very valuable! On the other hand most dealers have a cheap selection of cards ranging from, say, 20p to 50p, and for the beginner they are well worth a look.

This selection will generally contain more common cards, or views / subjects not often collected by more seasoned collectors. Donít be put off! You may well spot a view that takes your fancy and starts a new theme in your collection. Donít worry if there is nothing that takes your fancy or the prices are too high. Dealers are often prepared to bring the price down by, say, 10% on certain cards, so, again, do ask.

Herbert Road Plumstead This printed card showing Herbert Road in Plumstead is a bit battered but well worth buying and adding to your collection until you find a better copy.

As your collection starts to grow it becomes increasingly more difficult to remember those cards you already have so itís a good ideal to take some sort of list of the cards so you avoid duplication. Some collectors will visit a fair with files bulging with information, others with a small notebook of set numbers; even if you think you can remember your cards it can get quite hard in the excitement of a fair.

Larger fairs will often not only have postcard dealers but also stalls selling empty albums, and spare pages or sleeves which you will inevitably need to buy as your collection increases. So, as you can see a postcard fair is quite an event and a real must for you to visit. Not only will it mean new cards for your albums but is also a good way of meeting both dealers and collectors alike.

Next article: Where to buy : auctions