Vintage Postcards

Hello everyone! I’ve been here on Postcrossing for a little over 2 months and I’m loving it. Although my sent/received numbers are low because I am just starting, I have sent and received close to 200 cards through various tags, swaps, lotteries, and round robins. I’d like some feedback as to why vintage cards are not well liked on this website.

It seems many of the forum activities specify or recommend no vintage cards. I don’t understand why. I am not talking about a vintage card in terrible condition, that is falling apart, smells bad, etc. From an environmental perspective its better to use an already printed card. It’s also so interesting to see how things looked in the past, not only by what’s on front of the card, but also how postcards themselves were designed- where the address lines are put, what the borders look like, what type of film was used, the paper, etc. I also don’t understand if we don’t put limits on the subject matter of what people send in a forum activity, why do we care so much how old the postcard is? Maybe I am missing something, I hope you can enlighten me.

I find vintage postcards interesting and when I think it’s appropriate, I send them (I also send new postcards too), but I’m surprised how in the gallery I hardly see them. I thought a lot of deltiologists (postcard collectors) would be involved here but it seems they are not. For newbies, it is also easy to get a lot of older postcards cheaply making it easier to send more and get more involved if you use older postcards. Thanks for your insights!


Well said. I love the funky old stuff! World’s Largest Rocking Chair? :white_check_mark:


I’ll be curious what replies you get & I’m sure you’ll get some.

As someone newer to Postcrossing, I find many Round Robins, in particular, to be filled with what seem like endless rules about what is and isn’t acceptable, so I pass on them.

I have seen many individual profiles that welcome vintage cards though.

There are some big & never-ending debates about what people consider “real postcards” and I think that not accepting vintage ones comes from part of the community that has a narrower definition of what is an “acceptable” postcard which I find frustrating. Postcrossing’s goal is for people to send a postcard, to connect with others, to participate in the postcard community - we should be encouraging broad participation, not limiting it.

I like the Admin’s definition:

I’d just be clear in your posts that that’s what you’re offering & looking for and I’m sure you’ll find many like minded folks.

P.S. You might get more feedback if you break your post up into paragraphs a bit - it’s hard to read in one chunk. :slightly_smiling_face:


I almost never take part in the forum activities, but I think reasons might be:

  • they are smaller, and some are smaller than the minimum size in letter mail
  • they are “soft” without coating, and maybe don’t travel well
  • they don’t like the old style look
  • they don’t want’t to mix the vintage postcard with modern stamp and message

I like them. I have received one really lovely vintage postcard:

But I don’t find this style cards easily here.


I really love vintage postcards. I’ve bought couple thousands vintage postcards from eBay and I enjoy receiving them too!


I like old postcards even if they are written and canceled. I received very little. At home it is not that easy to find vintage postcards with COVID and sometimes some are more expensive than current postcards. For my part, I wait to find duplicates to send them because I keep them carefully.


I think that @S_Tuulia has pointed every reason I can think of myself…
Also, my mom is a flowerist and her shop is next to the stationery shop. She’s friends with the man working there and he knows about my love for postal stuff and he gave me 150+ old vintage postcards he found in his cabinet and can’t sell because of their age and the way their backside looks… Since I have so many of them, I like to send them to my penpals or write short messages on them, when I’m sending someone from the forum tea or something!! I also love giving these forgotten postcards new life… Every card, even if ugly or old, deserves to be sent!!


I haven’t noticed that so much, but I have seen many stating “no old cards”. And that is bit confusing, since does it mean old as published decades ago or old as used? (And I think it would also count as used if the card was not written but damaged somehow. A good rule of thumb: could you sell it as a new old stock?)

In my first ever round robin I understood old means cards which have been published years before. But then I got cards from an established member in that group and they did send much older cards. So I guess, it meant used after all! :thinking:

The term vintage is quite vague and people understand the time frame differently. Some consider 20 years old vintage, others require at least 50. I don’t know how old cards you have, but in my experience, cards from the last decades of 20th century usually travel well. Older cards might be softer and smaller just like @S_Tuulia said, and might be better to send in an envelope.

Personally, I love vintage cards. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: You stated many good points why they are so nice to send and receive. Don’t feel discouraged to continue, you are not alone! There are also some activities specializing in vintage cards such as Vintage RR.


it really depends on how you specify a “vintage” card. If you want to swap vintage cards there’s the Vintage Postcard tag and the Vintage RR on the forum. There it is specified very clearly what these cards are: a real vintage (= antique) card is older than 1960, a retro card originates from 1961-1990.

Young people often don’t like the old stuff - they can’t relate to it. And that’s okay. Everybody has his own preferences that should be accepted. Why disappoint them? I personally don’t like to receive anything military and religious and I ask people to accept that. I would never send a retro or vintage card to anyone who hasn’t stated that in his/her profile. It’s too specific and not common interest.

Some retro cards especially from the 70s/80s can be really ugly, I dislike them myself, but many young people think they are actually vintage.
I got some older cards through the official Postcrossing site and none of them was a “real” antique card but 70s trash which is very disappointing.

About the price: Vintage cards can be quite cheap, but most of them aren’t very nice and are not interesting for collectors.

I recommend to check out the Vintage RR I’m hosting. Here you can find lots of vintage and retro groups and a bunch of very nice people who actually love antique postcards.


I was really interested to read your post. I’m a relative newbie on Postcrossing but have also been amazed to see such little interest in " Vintage " cards.
Of course, one person’s idea of vintage is not the same as the next. I came into "deltiology " by way of Philately as I was buying in postcards with Philatelic collections and after a few years of putting them out at £20 a box ( around 200 ) started to become far more interested and intrigued when I discovered that many actually ticked all the boxes for me. I became more interested in certain subjects and countries, the Postal history,events of the past celebrated , the artists and photographers, the designs, the intriguing messages and printing methods , the sheer quirky nature of some and so much else. As a result I have learnt a huge amount much of which I would not have learnt from modern Postcards and built up collections in specialist areas to such an extent over many years that the collection has become vast.
There are definitions as to what constitutes old and grading systems for condition, I would define vintage to me as the kind of cards issued pre and during the Golden period 1902 to 1918 ish and use “old” as anything else. There are collectors of many types and subjects, some more popular than others, some really obscure and these can broadly be defined as either Topographical or by Subject.
I haven’t sent any vintage cards yet but may do if someone’s profile suggests they enjoy these cards and would probably send enclosed in a plastic wallet and envelope to protect them as they tend not to travel well in this age of increased postal automation.
Here in the Uk, there are specialist Postcard and Ephemera Fairs to obtain cards and you can still pick up superb cards for a song if you go to the right places and do the leg work.
Of course, there are many " Ugly " cards but surprisingly for some these ugly cards are often collected by aficionados if the subject ticks the box! I’m not that interested in 70’s views of concrete shopping malls but plenty of folks are ! I have even bought damaged cards on occasion for the design if I cannot source the same in fine condition. When you look at the postal routes some vintage cards took across the world it is always a surprise they got there at all !
I don’t believe any modern cards that I have seen get anywhere close in execution and design to some of the superb Postcards produced using Chromolithographic printing techniques in the early 20th century. Many people probably haven’t seen this type of card and may be convinced if they did.
It would be good to see more discussion around " Vintage cards " it’s a huge subject although I understand that’s not the raison d’etre for Postcrossing but it does set the postcards we send today in a historical setting…
I get it that for many younger people old cards just don’t “fit” with their interests but there are lots of contemporary cards that do and they can reflect that in their profiles. Its good to have choice.
So, there are Deltiologists hanging on in here, maybe we need coaxing out! Enjoy the journey, there’s plenty of room for old and new…
Best Wishes to all, Derek


I love older cards - no matter whether it’s real “antique” stuff or 1970s/80s - and also quite frequently send them. I consider them extra-special, and here in Poland they are usually more expensive than new cards - even the often “flimsy” cards from the 70s and 80s.

As for the quality, older doesn’t always mean worse. Many really old cards were printed on really sturdy cardboard, and the last cards from the black&white era had certainly higher quality pictures than the early coloured cards. And my impression is also that over the last decade the quality of postcards has rather changed for the worse - at least for standard tourist cards.

A big plus of older cards - from before the era of the smartphone - is that you can get a much wider choice of motives. With the genre dying, today you can only get postcards of a few main tourist attractions of a city - whereas in the old days lots of postcards also showed places off the main tourist tracks.


Every time someone calls any type of postcards “trash”, I get a small punch in my chest. Yes, we all have our preferences, but other man’s trash is other one’s treasure. There are some cards (very recently published) which are not my type of all. I still wouldn’t call them trash. :slight_smile:

I actually find many 1970’s - 1980’s cards very interesting. The view cards from this era have often quite common, even somewhat awkward looking people. The framing and a choice of the subject can also be quite weird and hilarious! I love all those miserably ugly stores and stations – it just tells a lot about the era. As buildings, they are not my style at all – I am a helpless romantic and an ornament lover :blush: – but the phenomenon itself interests me. I don’t usually like multi-views, but multi-views from this period can be very smartly and aesthetically arranged.

There is no official definition for vintage. I think it is quite commonly accepted that antique is at least 100 years old. So older cards which are not yet antique could be considered vintage. In swaps and RRs it is important to define those terms so everybody is on the same page, but it is not wrong per se to think late 20th century cards as vintage.

In Finnish, we would often call these later decades retro, just like @Miss-Cynical has in Vintage RR’s rules. However, in English, retro primarily means using past designs again or in a new way – like contemporary fashion with 80’s vibes.


The interests I express in my bio are topical; it has never occurred to me to filter anything by age. I can’t remember seeing very many profiles that have specifically asked one not to send old or vintage cards. I wonder if there is a translation issue here. Perhaps folks don’t want used cards (i.e. cards that have been previously written and sent)?

The most frequent type that people don’t want I see in bios is homemade or shaped cards I would say. I suspect some of that has to do with how they store their cards, as these are often not easily stored.

I LOVE vintage postcards and have a fairly large collection. They are absolutely fascinating (especially with writing and dates on the back). I’ve never really considered sending any of them. I think it may be because since they have survived 100+ years I don’t want to write on them or change them in any way. But, now that seems kind of silly. I think I’ll change my profile to include that I’d like to receive vintage cards too. (But I’m still hesitant to send any of mine. weird)


@Miss-Cynical I think you bring up a really important point that I didn’t address- thank you for doing so- “vintage” is a really broad term that means different things to different people. I like how you discerned between “vintage” and “retro”. I don’t really have any definition myself, and yes there is a difference between a 1912 postcard and one from 1979. In general, I am basically addressing postcards that are old, from the hundred year old historical artifact, to a motel card from the 1980s.

The other main issue I have is that I don’t think of “vintage” as a “type” or “category” of postcard. It is a condition or a characteristic. You mentioned in your post you would never send a retro or vintage postcard to anyone who hasn’t stated it in their profile. I absolutely would. If someone states that they like postcards of flowers, for example, what difference does it make if the if has a picture of flowers from 2021, 1981, 1941, or 1901? I am still fulfilling their wishes. I don’t see vintage as too specific- I think its the opposite- it’s compatible with every subject. If someone specifically says, I don’t like old cards, I’m not a jerk and I don’t send it to them- but if someone says I love cards of fishermen and fishing and I have a card that has a photo of fishermen from 1962 I don’t see why that should be an issue.

Which is the same reason I don’t participate in any vintage swaps or vintage RR- I just don’t see why vintage needs to be its own category. Being old to me is not an interesting grouping, it’s the subject matter that is more important.


Makes sense. I’m going to go through my vintage collection and start using them too. (I love the flower postcards from the early 1900’s…the colors can be so bright they almost hurt my eyes)


For example, I collect old postcards from the earliest 1829, but since the 70s I don’t really like postcards, at least not ours. Almost everything was given away to collectors who appreciate them. Leaving the most beloved ones to themselves. And in posturossing I am against them, why I will not explain normally. Today, by the way, I got one. And I was even more surprised when a postcard from 1984 from my country, I arrived today on RR for signature from India. I think this is a personal matter for everyone, but as I understand it, postcrossing means modern postcards and if you want old ones, then it is usually indicated in the profile, but not otherwise

Based solely on profiles that I have encountered, I haven’t seen many requests for “no vintage cards, please”. Actually, I think I’ve seen vintage cards in wishlists more often than in “please don’t send” lists. I’ve never participated in Round Robins though, so I don’t know about those.

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I must say that I’m a bit confused by this. I see absolutely nothing on the site that would make someone believe that Postcrossing is for modern cards. Old cards are cards just like any other cards.


I am also interested in the conversation. I haven’t run across any profiles that say they don’t want retro/vintage postcards, but I just got the feeling that that they might be second-rate postcards (a step above the much-hated ad/handmade postcards maybe?!?). I purchased thousands of secondhand, but brand new, New Zealand postcards from the 1980s on our Ebay-like site. They are fantastic, in my opinion, because of the 33 designs, they show scenes from 1980s NZ that wouldn’t probably make the cut on modern postcards because they aren’t an instagram-like scene. They are in excellent quality, glossier than anything I have seen, and to me are very interesting! But I get the feeling that if I send them to someone, they might not like them as much as a new postcard. And I have no idea why I have that feeling, seeing that I’ve never seen anything negative about vintage/retro postcards!

I look at the gallery of postcards from time to time, and the ones that stand out to me are old-time shots of funny things (a guy wheeling a washing machine up a tram track while a tram goes down the other way), or retro postcards. I guess I will have to put in my profile that I like retro postcards! :slight_smile: