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Learn About Postcard Ephemera


									Learn About Postcard Ephemera
Looking for something interesting and fun to collect? Try postcards.
They're perfect for someone who wants to get "into" ephemera but doesn't
know where to begin. The goal, of course, is to become a deltiologist.
That's the name of someone who collects and studies postcards. But you
can just enjoy your collection without knowing any of the particulars of
vintage printing. Maybe you just like photos of Main Streets or travel
cards from National Parks.
A brief history of postcards
The postcard was patented in 1861 by Philadelphian John P. Charlton.
Charlton sold his patent. The US Postal Service, in 1873, started selling
postcards printed with stamps. This gave patrons a quick way to send a
short message. These were the only legal postcards made until 1898 when
Congress passed a bill allowing private companies to print the cards.
Within ten years of their introduction in the US, European printers began
creating and marketing postcards.
It could be said that the picture postcard (PPC) was born with the
passage of the Private Mailing Card Act. The PPC market expanded and the
public demanded a diverse range of subjects. In fact, PPCs were so
popular from 1898-1918 that many deltiologists call this the "Golden Age
of Postcards". PPCs can be "dated" by various means from the most obvious
(the send date), whether or not the back is divided, the presence of
borders, and of course, the type of paper and ink.
Why collect postcards?
Postcards do not require very much storage space. A couple shoeboxes will
hold hundreds. In the United States, the postal service requires
postcards be 3.5" - 4.25" high and 5" - 6" long and no more than .016"
thick. Or course, once you're hooked on collecting them, the cards may
fill up your spare room and attic.
It's cheap to begin a collection. Chances are, you already have a few
either on your refrigerator door or in a desk drawer. No doubt your
friends, family, and people at work have postcards. Odds are, unless the
message is risque or too personal, they'll be more than happy to give
them to you. Most homes in the Victorian Era had an album full of
postcards in the parlor. Maybe you'll luck out and your MeMaw has one
tucked away in a box in her attic. Also, when someone you know goes on
vacation, ask them to send you postcards of their destination. See? You
already need a shoebox to hold the cards, don't you?
Vintage postcards are relatively inexpensive when compared to other
items. Think of the cost of Rookwood pottery versus postcards. Or
autographs of famous 18th century politicians... Vintage postcards can
sell for hundreds of dollars, though. The most popular ones are holiday
related, especially Halloween and Christmas cards from the early 20th
century. Cards are frequently reprinted so it pays to learn about what's
vintage and what's not from online sources or books about postcards.
Price guides are available.
You can learn something from your collection. Postcards are historical
documents as well as present day chronicles. Trace the evolution of
handwriting through the messages, check out interesting stamps (you might
even become a philatelist), or compare photos of towns in 1915 to those
of 2008. Document urban sprawl.
You can tailor your collection to fit other interests. If you're also a
Trekkie, there are Star Trek postcards. For those who collect military
memorabilia, there are numerous possibilities from personal cards sent
home from the troops to picture postcards of towns in which they served.
How about postcards of landmark buildings? Or of your hometown?
Frame postcards for an instant art gallery.
Go ahead. Start your search. Check your home for postcards. Tomorrow, at
work, ask around and see if anyone there will bring you some cards. Call
your Mom or your MeMaw and ask if they have an album from yesteryear.
Shuffle through some collectibles websites and see if any particular
topic interests you. Holiday postcards? Cats? Dogs? Airplanes? Chances
are, there's a postcard for just about everything.
Val MacEwan, perhaps best known for helping folks buy ephemera, is also
an administrator of the Ephemera Network, a leading forum covering the
subject of Ephemera.

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