What do you look for when collecting postcards? How do you start this fascinating hobby? How did I start?
Who's the woman behind Old Postcards? My name is Tyne Henney-Scrafton.
Well I am always getting asked how I became a vintage postcard seller. I rather hope the word 'vintage' in that context, means the postcards and not myself! So many don't realise that it is the second largest collecting hobby in the world - second only to stamp collecting. So let me try and give some tips both for buying and for selling postcards.
How did I start?
Well, it was my late mother who got me into actually collecting postcards, back in the 1970s. I used to go round book fairs with her and at a lot of the fairs there were people selling old postcards. We were both interested in vintage views of our home town of Runcorn, in Cheshire and my mum already had a good collection of them. I soon followed her example and started to pick up lots of them over time... this was pre internet days of course so we could only buy them at fairs. I collected them for many years, branching out into other areas of interest, e.g. old Isle of Arran postcards and old French ones, both of which are still my favourites. After several years I had some cards to sell, and as by that time the internet had arrived, guess where I went to sell them... Ebay!
After buying in large collections, taking out what I wanted and selling the rest, well it just developed into more than a hobby, I decided to set up a small business and the rest is history as they say! That was in 2004 and it is still going strong today as you will know, now that you have found this website! The following link is to our FAQ page where you can find most questions answered.
How do I start collecting?
You have the whole internet at your fingertips but don't forget to visit postcard fairs in person, it is well worth it! Also go to flea markets, car boot sales, you will find vintage postcards for sale at all those too. Bear in mind that the cards at postcard fairs are usually all a bit more expensive but you will find some rare examples if you look.
Other than that, there are lots of sites selling them on the internet, most folks head for Ebay although I am glad to say hundreds every day, visit my own website and buy direct from me; all the postcards in the shop are fixed price, so you can just click and buy and have them sent out to you usually the same day. Old Postcards is a member of the Postcard Traders Association and the website is fully secure.
So... you have fairs, the internet, how else can you get vintage postcards? Try some house clearance shops and small bookshops and shops selling curios in the high street. I warn you though, the latter in my view, tend to overprice the cards they sell.... but it's worth having a look through them if you see any.
Why would you collect vintage postcards?
- love of local history, seeing life as it used to be
- genealogy based interest, many people buy them for the details of the addressees and the content of the messages if written and posted.
- to sell on. This is where I come to how you can sell vintage postcards.
Where can I sell old postcards?
If you have a collection, it is always worth approaching a dealer like myself, who may wish to make an offer to buy the lot from you. This is a much cheaper option for you, than selling to an auction house as you don't pay any commission on the selling price. Indeed, if we buy collections in, we even pay for the cost of posting them to us so you are never out of pocket.
Another way is to auction them on Ebay or to sell at a fixed price there. Remember again, the hidden costs of doing that.... the fees on Ebay are quite high!
Which postcards are worth more than others?
Aha - the 64,000 dollar question that most people ask! Well... the old saying goes that everything is only worth what you can get for it. That is very true! So how do you know if your postcards are worth anything?
I am not a postcard valuer.... but I make offers for collections of postcards if they are of interest to me and I think I can resell them. That last bit is most important - remember that any dealer you sell your postcards to, needs to feel fairly sure he/she can resell them at a profit. Hence the amount you are offered for them, will not necessarily be what you would get for them if you sold them yourself. However, it takes all the hassle out of it for you if you sell to a dealer.... not having to list them for sale in the internet and paying fees if you make a sale... also not having to pay very high seller commission if you sell through an auction house.
I always try to make a fair offer for postcard collections; and I also pay the postage as mentioned elsewhere in this blog, for you to send them to me.
So... back to the question, which postcards are worth more than others? Sometimes a postcard of a person's ancestor's village is worth more to them than anyone else, so the price can be immaterial. Especially if by a stroke of good fortune, the person writing the card or the addressee, is an actual ancestor - this has been known and it is one reason I always try and list the name of the addressee in the details, when I add them to my shop. For privacy reasons I don't do this for later cards, but those say pre 1940 if the name is legible, then I try to include it.
Other factors which influence the worth of the postcard is ... a real photo postcard is always worth more than a printed postcard; so look out for that in the title and/or description. Postcards of small rural places were not published in the great numbers that cards of seaside locations were, so are worth more as there weren't that many. World War 1 silks, the embroidered cards, especially if they have regiment names or coat of arms on, are always sought after. Shipping postcards also have some valuable content, as I specialise in topographical postcards I cannot advise you on which but if you're into shipping as a subject, make sure you read about it online and that will guide you.
Busy street scenes will always fetch more than a postcard just showing a woodland walk for instance. The detail in the street scene postcards is very much key to their worth... do they show long since demolished cinemas and theatres, post offices, etc? If they do, this adds to their value. People also like looking at the fashions and old cars on such postcards, especially if the area shown is now pedestrianised.
I do hope this short blog has been helpful to you - thousands of postcards cross my desk each month and fresh stock is added to the online store each day.... so do keep checking back if you are seeking cards of a particular area. We also send out occasional newsletters - so do sign up for that if you wish - you'd be first to hear about sales and discounts that way!
Thanks for reading this and for visiting the website in the first place. I run the business by myself and appreciate each and every customer who supports it.
Enjoy collecting postcards and browsing the store, thank you again and I hope that I can help you in building your collection!