You have a stack of vintage postcards, and you’re sure they’re worth some money. You could be right but determining value for older items can be challenging. There are several resources available for valuing a postcard, including websites and appraisers, but you can sometimes determine the age and rarity of your postcard merely by looking at it.
Determining Postcard Value
The first thing you’ll need to do if you have older postcards is determine the age of each of them. A 1907 postcard’s value could be much higher than one from just a decade or two ago, depending on the type of card it is. The oldest-known picture postcard brought $50,000 in 2002 when it sold at the London Stamp Exchange. It was posted in 1840.
Some of the most valuable postcards are Pioneer postcards, which were manufactured between 1873 and 1897 in the U.S. These cards are unique in that you won’t find a message on the backside, only the address. The postal service prohibited writing messages on the back of postcards until the early 1900s.
Researching Vintage Postcards
There are various sites online that will help you determine a postcard’s value, including PostcardValues.com. These sites will help you determine age, assuming there isn’t a postmark on the card you’re holding, as well as find identifiers that could make it rare. A 1907 postcard’s value is even greater if it was signed by the artist or was part of a limited-edition printing.
Another factor influencing a postcard’s value is the scene depicted on it. Some of the most valuable postcards include photos of ocean liners or railroads, as collectors are interested in making these rare images part of a collection. Photos from the early 1900s of homes, families and other personal scenes are also popular, falling under the name Real Photo Postcards.
Making Money Selling Postcards
Once you’ve done your research and noticed the difference between a 1907 postcard’s value and a 2010 postcard’s value, you may think you have a great business opportunity. If you have inherited a big box full of postcards, you could be right – temporarily, at least. But when you’ve sold all the postcards you have, you’ll need to know where to track down some good deals on old postcards that you can flip for a profit.
If you’re willing to put some time in, you may be able to find some vintage postcards you can sell. You may find some at estate sales or even garage sales, where family members simply want to clear out belongings as quickly and efficiently as possible. It may be tempting to check out antique stores or online marketplaces, but chances are those sellers know what they have and price their postcards accordingly.
If you have a stack of vintage postcards, whether you’ve inherited them or purchased them at a steal, your next step is to figure out where to sell them. One of the best places to sell vintage postcards is at a place where collectors gather. Look for collectors’ fairs in your area if you want top dollar. You can also check antique dealers and sell your cards on sites like eBay, but be sure you know the value of your cards and don’t accept less.
Protecting Old Postcards
Until you can figure out where to sell your vintage postcards, make sure you protect them. Plastic sleeves will help keep dirt and debris away as well as safeguard the paper against yellowing with age. You can buy special postcard albums designed for the shape of your postcards, assuming they’re somewhat standard.
For your most valuable postcards, don’t take any chances with security. Lock them in a safe deposit box or invest in a fireproof, waterproof safe for your home. If you’re waiting for them to appreciate or looking for the perfect buyer, the last thing you want is to lose your postcard to a thief or natural disaster.
Stephanie Faris is a novelist and freelance writer whose work has appeared on the websites of Pacific Standard, the New York Post, the Intuit Small Business Blog, and many others. She is the Simon & Schuster author of eight children’s novels, including the Piper Morgan series.