WHAT ARE PICTURE POSTCARDS WORTH?
As with most collectables, this is a very difficult question. Some, the rarest, can cost hundreds of pounds but at the moment these are very much the exception. The majority of cards are worth just a few pence or cents regardless of age.
Themes or Subjects
Top-of-the-range types include Art Nouveau, cards featuring the Titanic and the best examples of photographic social history. Transport is a popular theme - Railways, Shipping, Trams, Motoring and Motor Racing - and prices here can range from a few pounds to fifty or sixty. Experience and the use of a good catalogue helps collectors sort out the most desirable items.
Examples of subjects you might come across on cards, with likely prices you would expect to pay (in pounds sterling), include:
- Edwardian actresses.......£1.00
- Photographic Dogs and Cats.......£1.50
- Local Railway Stations (pre 1950).......£35.00
- Embroidered Silks (WW1).......£4.00
A large number of enthusiasts look for 'Topo', postcards showing street scenes and social life in bygone days. Usually of their own locality or perhaps places they have lived. Many people will collect any scenes which evoke fond memories of visits to that location.
Topographical Price Guide
Here the value of a card is in direct proportion to its scarcity: city centre scenes can be worth pence, while village views, of which only a few copies were originally published by a local photographer, rate much more highly.
Anything from 10 or 20p for common (usually printed views) of well visited locations ie cathedrals, holiday resorts, to several pounds for village and town street scenes. Particularly well animated 'real photographic' views which may fetch £20.00 upwards.
In fact, 90% of postcards, no matter how old, fall into a price bracket ranging from pence to five pounds.Cards that sell cheaply include the categories of relatively modern issues, art reproductions, deckle-edged greetings cards, scenic views that have changed little and poorly printed comics.
Most collectors are searching for more interesting village, town or city scenes, or themes represented on cards. The excitement for them is in finding elusive cards that add to their collections.
Used or Unused?
Whether or not the card has passed through the post does not normally have any bearing on its value, but stamps and postmarks can add interest to a card. Good condition is a must however - creases and bent corners etc. render many cards worthless.
But these cards are really old!
The bulk of surviving old postcards are from the 'Golden Age' period (1902-18) and may only be worth a few pence. Cards from pre 1902, often distinguishable by the lack of a 'divided back', are certainly rarer and are worth from a few pounds upwards but are not eagerly sought after by todays collectors, who in general are more interested in the picture content. Postally used cards from the early postcard years (1894 onwards) are quite collectable however.
Picture Postcard Values is now the only UK produced publication. A fairly realistic price guide giving a good indication of what you should expect to pay for certain categories, though very few individual postcard issues are listed. This would be an impossible task for any organisation to undertake. Hardly any records exist of the output of the thousands of postcard publishers over the years and the painstaking task of compiling checklists is the domain of an enthusiastic handfull of individuals and societies.
Picture Postcard Values is available online from:
Reflections of a Bygone Age
Anyone can become an expert!One of the main attractions of the Postcard Collecting hobby is that the subject is so vast that you can gain expertise in your favourite category in a short space of time. Even relative beginners are capable of discovering extremely rare cards in their own chosen specialised field. The variety of subjects to collect is so immense that nobody could possibly become familiar with all of them, therefore it is fairly easy to become an expert in your own chosen speciality with a modest investment of time in research.