Collecting vintage postcards

Do any of you collect vintage postcards that are 100 years old or even older?
I started doing this some months ago and now have a little collection. Most of them are used (and tell interesting stories). Where do you get them? Do you try to decipher the text written on them and think about what has happened to the people or do you only care about the picture? Do you store them in a different way compared to modern postcards? Do you have a favorite vintage card? I’d love to read about your experiences and thoughts on this topic :postcard:


I love them!
I started searching in antique stores, but now, with lockdown, I find them on etsy and various internet market places. It all comes down to luck. I also know a guy (well, my granny knows, I just visit) who loves postcards and has a store with “anything and everything” - he sells old postcards from all around the world for very cheap!

I have few that are 100 years old, some even older, some from 50’s, 70’s. I love trying to decipher what they say, but I have a few in German, which I don’t speak.
I menaged to found 2 from the same person - a World War I soldier writing from Austria to a woman in Poland - I assume his partner. They have a military stamp of approval and the messages are lovely!

If it comes to storage - all my postcards are sticked to my bedroom wall, so far I haven’t damaged any of them. You just have to be careful, I guess.

How do you menage yours? Where do you buy them?


I collect all kinds of viewcards, new and old ones. In my collection I have some cards (not really many) which are 100 (or more) years old - most of them used. I also like to read (or to try it :slightly_smiling_face:) the messages at the back of the cards and I like to imagine something about the person who wrote this text.

I got most of the very old cards from my grandparents or other (old) relatives (they didn’t collect postcards, they just didn’t throw them away), but I also have bought some cards at ebay. Especially I love old postcards from small villages (from where you often cannot get new postcards any more).

I store the old cards together with all my other cards in shoe boxes.

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Hi Rebecca,
I hope you are well and Happy New Year !
Just read your post and though I would answer your questions, interestingly as a relative newcomer to Postcrossing , I have noticed there have not been many posts about vintage cards which surprised me. Yes, I collect vintage cards, I guess I have done for around 10 years and got interested when a lot came my way through my Philatelic interests, I probably have around 30,000, yes , remarkable ! Some are used postally and some not and yes many tell fascinating stories and that’s what intrigued me. Early forays into " Deltiology " the study of postcards ( from the Greek Deltion for writing tablet ) meant I started to specialise my collections, by country and subject and for certain artists who designed the cards. Plus of course the unusual both by subject and place. Early cards used superb printing technologies of the day , may of the best were printed in Germany using Chromo lithography which in my opinion has never been surpassed. I collect cards from The South of France, Italy, Egypt , Ceylon, Paris etc etc and artist designed cards. I have collections of " Tucks" cards which are a huge area of interest and study and tell a remarkable story.
I buy my cards privately or at specialist Ephemera Fairs, sometimes at Stamp or Postcard Fairs. I do try and decipher my cards but struggle with old German, Austro Hungarian and some of the eastern languages like Persian ( Farsi ). The postcards are stored in acid free plastic wallets which are then housed in sturdy shoe boxes around 200 to a shoebox and specialist collections are stored in special postcard albums with ( old size postcard ) Pages at 4 or 6 each side of a page.
I particularly like runs of postcards which have been sent from the sender to the recipient at the rate of 1 per day over a week or so with each subsequent card displaying a separate word so that the recipient doesn’t get the full message until the last card usually they concern matters of the heart !
It’s amazing to think that during the middle of the Golden period of postcards 1890 to 1915 approximately millions postcards were sent per year in the USA , multiply that across the world, vast numbers were sent and I am amazed how many survived in such perfect condition.
It is an intriguing pastime and you learn so much the more you investigate those cards.
Happy collecting, Best Wishes, Derek


My father is a collector of cards showing old views of our town and neighboring ones. I LOVE reading the backs of these and seeing how the tiny towns have changed over the last 100 years.
I have a small collection of vintage cards, mostly Easter cards (RPPC of rabbits/chicks hitched to little wagons are my favorite) but also have a soft spot for chrome hunting/fishing/camping cards and love exaggeration cards of people with huge vegetables/fish etc.


I have a couple of vintage ones from France mostly but due to the handwriting/me not speaking french, i cant understand which year they were written in… there are postmarks on stamps but still im not sure.

Id love to get more at some point, but i ll look for some with clear dates, because for me the time placement is really important!

Does anyone think they could “decipher” the dates? a french person or not, just someone who is into old cards!

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I don’t collect Vintage postcards myself. Since @ Ceres1849 answered many of your questions, I will give some thoughts on other matters. Of course, what I will say is quite subjective. But as a buyer / seller/trader/collector of picture postcards for 40+ years, I think I have learned a thing or two.

In the strict sense of the term, Postcard Collecting involves the picture side of the postcard. The beauty of Vintage postcards is that you have a huge array of subjects on them. From their early beginnings, people collected postcards on their travels, put them in albums and placed them in their homes for people to look at. With the advent of photography, this practice started to slide. Postcard collecting pretty much has been broken down into two areas: Views and Topics. Views are pretty self-explanatory. Topics could be anything: maps, animals, sports, etc. Sometimes an addition to a card can change the type. For example, you may have a trolley on a street (a view) Put Teddy Roosevelt in the Trolley and now you have a topical card. Perhaps the biggest draw of Vintage cards is that they display views that will never be seen again. Small towns are a good example.

I myself prefer modern postcards, really those published after 1990. The photography is much better, the images sharper. As a former stamp collector, I really like it when other members or travelers randomly put large stamps on cards. Moreover, some countries use neat pictorial cancellations when processing mail. Most of the messages can be bland. But once in a while, you come across some interesting ones. There was one card written by a UK traveller sent from Portugal. Two or three days before, the writer noted that the dictator at the time (Salazar) had just died. Where do I buy my cards? My US cards I purchase from a wholesale source in Indiana; I just purchased a lot of 1000 postcards from him. With International cards, I may buy some; I trade for quite a few. On occasion, I have bought collections from those members who have left Postcrossing.

Whatever you collect, try to get as much enjoyment as you can from this wonderful hobby.


I have a card bought from a local collectables shop depicting the American Line steamship “St Paul”, which was launched in 1895. She was requisitioned by the US Navy in 1898 and took part in the Spanish- American War. The card has an undivided back, so dates to before 1907 when only the address could be written on the blank side. It is unused - I wonder how it ended up in an Australian country town?


We have a lovely RR for vintage postcards, vintage reprints, and retro cards:


That’s true! Thank you, @Wolfsmondfee!

New members are always welcome in the Vintage RR! :heart:


I’m a stamp collector and have come across numerous vintage cards in bulk lots or in our local stamp club auction (not happening right now). I think they can be really beautiful - I love the illustrated and advertising cards in particular, and consider them thematic parts of my topical collections.

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@BrokkoliKatze I have a huge collection of antique cards and I store each of them in clear plastic postcard covers.

Don’t have a favourite postcard, there are too many that I cherish, but I have a 1903 card of the street I live in and when it comes to cool & funny it’s Louis Coulon (1907) and his cat.

Mostly I’m interested in the picture but also the text, sometimes you come across very touching or heartbreaking messages. I often wonder what happened to the people who wrote the cards. Antique postcards have so much to offer!

As Nadja suggested, you’re welcome to join the Vintage RR I’m hosting, we’re always looking for new members, especially for antique cards.

If you have any questions or need more information, just sent a PM (auch auf Deutsch :wink: ).


Thanks for your replies! Very interesting.
If you need help reading something in German, I am happy to help. I also have some friends who are professional archivists, they are educated in reading old handwriting and can help too with the really difficult stuff :slight_smile:

@anon80791886 I wouldn’t dare to stick them to the wall :sweat_smile: how do you do that, do you use some kind of tape? I am still thinking about how to store them best. At the moment I have them in an envelope, but I feel like they deserve better. I also put some on my desk, but propably shouldn’t keep them there in the summer or the sun will damage them… I don’t know. I also have one from WWI, a woman wrote to a man who was in the navy and told him to please write back. I am curious- I googled the guy. I found out that he died one year later, on a submarine that sunk. I wonder if he ever wrote back.
I buy my cards on flea markets and on ebay. I discovered that in the past sometimes normal photos were sent as postcards. I have one of those too.

@sabine2500 yes, small villages! I especially like to see how places I know looked in the past. Sometimes they are not recognizable at all, sometimes they still look the same :smiley:

@Ceres1849 wow!! So you are an expert in collecting, amazing! Plastic wallets, two of my card came in those. On flea markets I see the old cards all in plastic as well (but I thought that was because so many people come there and touch them). Some acid free “thing” to store them in is probably important? I think I’ll ask my archivist friends about this. I really like the idea of one-word cards. Maybe I’ll try that myself :smiley: Yes, the different techniques are astounding. I have a card where the back says it is an “oleoplast” oil painting. I have yet to find out what that is.
I already learnt so much from your post, thank you for that :slight_smile:

@cottontailfarm I googled what such Easter cards look like. They are super cute! :smiley: I haven’t seen such cards before. Do you display them in your home during the Easter time?

@melimar I’d like to help finding it out. I speak French, maybe that’ll help. Would you like to post photos of your cards?

@anon95027724 I collect cards that are somehow romantic, showing couples or women with flowers. Sometimes they have little poems on the front that are quite funny because they contain words that nowadays nobody would say (or write) :smiley: like “holde Maid” (lovely maiden).

@Bowyum interesting indeed. Sometimes I wish they could talk :smiley:

@Wolfsmondfee and @Miss-Cynical thank you, I haven’t come across this before since I don’t do RRs normally, but I might join this :smiley:

@katie333 do you keep the stamps on the cards or remove them and put them in a seperate album?

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@Miss-Cynical I love those cards! That cat card is so funny :laughing:
I think before I can participate in the RR I need to get my hands on more old cards. Then I will join. It’s a great idea, thank you for hosting it :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

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@BrokkoliKatze oh and there’s also a Vintage Postcard tag
But the quality of the cards mostly isn’t very good and you might also receive a reprint, which is kind of disappointing.

You don’t need many cards for the RR, the groups consist of 3 or 4 participants, there are specific and general groups.

I already posted that photo in another thread, but I’ll explain how I’m doing it.
I use adhesive gum. The stuff looks like chewed up gum and doesn’t leave any traces. You can buy it online or in any arts and crafts store.
The thing is, you don’t want to rip them from the wall, but if you’re in a mood to take them off - very gently unstick them or use a knife. When taking off the gum from postcards - I use a new chunk of gum, roll it on the one sticked to the card and it attaches to the one I’m holding in my hand.

The vintage ones are scattered between the new, I don’t separate them, I feel like every postcard has a history, a memory or some sentiment. Some of mine I got when travelling, some got from my considerate friends and family, some are from postcrossing, some from penpal, some I’ve bought myself - from talented artists or antique stores and some were sent from tourist informations around the world.
I believe that separating wouldn’t make sense in my case, because every cards holds a similar value to me. They all tell stories which would be incomplete if I was to split them.


Hi again, yes, you’re correct , dealers at Fleamarkets and fairs will encapsulate their postcards in the plastic wallets to protect them, many people flicking through and turning them over would quickly destroy them so the wallets are for protection. Over time in dealers boxes they get really dirty so if you collect it’s important to get them in new wallets as soon as you can they’re not expensive and generally come in 3 sizes, small ( vintage cards ) Medium ( modern cards) and large for oversized modern cards . Quality and condition are important although if a card is over 100 years old made from Paper/card you have to expect a few knocks, but reject bad stains and tears although condition becomes less important with the rarest cards.
Oleoplast often used to describe a printing technique for art subject cards and others . Oilette is a term often seen on cards produced by Tucks which have a huge range of views / places /subjects.
If you look through boxes of cards at fairs it pays to be forensic as people often miss some of the unusual types and example would be cards known as " Hold to light " These cards were produced with pinprick holes in the actual card to delineate windows or lights on a town view or the moon and stars etcetc , a second backing card was then attacked which had corresponding translucent shapes and if you hold the card up to a candle or light at night, hey presto the card becomes illuminated some are really stunning.
I haven’t attached any pictures to a post before and I’m a novice at this so here’s a few pictures from my collection showing a range of types.

  1. A Gruss aus card from Elsass , Gruss aus ( Greetings from ) a German early chromo ( chromo lithographic card unposted.
  2. 2 cards from Strassburg , early cards posted in 1899, again early Chromo lithographic printing.
  3. A pretty card with Alsace-Lorraine costumes , although it’s difficult to see the figures are actually embossed on the card.
  4. On the canal, Venice by night at the Italian exhibition in Earls Court, London in 1904 , Wow love to have been there! Cards from exhibitions are a popular collecting area.
  5. A British silhouette card , I have a penchant for these , the detail is amazing, the last little person carrying an apple , the first Goblin carrying a botanically correct grass. There were also many of these silhouette cards produced in Germany.
  6. 2 X " Tucks " Oilette cards from Paris, L’Opera and La Madeleine, adore the pictures, I wonder what had she had just purchased.

I don’t think i’d be able to participate in the RR as I have only replied to a few posts and don’t yet understand how that works, all in good time. This is just to show the scope of what’s out there if you get interested in vintage cards… Best Wishes, Derek


@BrokkoliKatze I definitely keep used cards intact. I’ve been collecting stamps so long that I have many many thousands and have no need to pull them off of cards. Usually the stamps are ‘worth’ comparatively little anyway. :slight_smile:

Saw these postcards listed in an online ephemera sale today. The first is a postcard of a postcard store interior circa 1910.


I got her postcards from my grandmother. Not a hundred years, a little less))) I put the signed postcards and the ones I liked in a special album, and put the rest in the exchanger. Some postcards have already found a new home.

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