Frequently Asked Questions



Postcard Collecting FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)

The most frequently asked question is,  "What are my postcards cards worth?"

Family Member -Well, a postcard has several levels of value to different people. To a family member with a real photo of a family member, the card has no dollar value because it will never be sold. But it has tremendous sentimental value. Cards of a personal family nature should never be sold. Rather, they should be passed on to any family member who shows an interest.

Collector - Depending on how long a collector has looked for a specific card, it may have greater or lesser value. Take the Hold To Light Eiffel Tower postcard I have in my collection. I looked for a card  like that for several years. Finally I found one from a dealer in Great Britain on eBay. I was willing to pay $45. Is the card worth $45? Probably not to anyone else but me.  But I really like it that much. There are other cards which I have that I paid 25 cents for that are worth just that or even less.

Dealer - When you sell to a dealer, you will get a slight fraction of what you paid, probably. That is because carrying those postcard boxes all around the territory takes energy. So when a dealer invests in cards you may sell, there is the time factor to be considered. The money spent might be invested for even a decade. How many times will the card need to be carried in and out of a show before it sells. That is what the dealer is asking when giving a value to your items.

Sell Them Yourself - If you have the time and energy, you can list postcards you have for sale on online auction sites. In that way you will likely get more than if you sell to a dealer. But it dopes involve time and effort. Ask around to find a person who sells online. Ask them how to do it. Buy the Dummies Book for eBay or check it out at the library. It may turn out to be fun like it is for me.

"How important is the condition of the postcard I have for sale?"

The answer is VERY. Most collectors will be interested in condition even before the price. Cards can have defects. But a card with a defect will sell only as a place holder until a better one comes along.

"Where can I find postcards for my collection?"

Postcard shows and sales are probably the very best place to find the cards you need. By looking at them in person, you can evaluate condition and other visual aspects much more closely than you can examine cards bought online. But getting to a postcard show may be difficult. They are held only so often and then in a limited number of places. You could go to stamp shows where stamp dealers might also have postcards. Stamp shows are held in many places.

Or you could seek out a postcard club in your area. My wife and I drive about seventy miles to attend the club we belong to. We can not go to every meeting. But when we do go, we are able to find cards for our collections. And if we have cards for sale, we take them, too. That way the hobby kind of pays for itself. Well, not really. But a club is a great way to find cards.

Flea Markets are not too good. You might hit it lucky and find cards now and then.  But condition isn't the greatest at a flea market, usually. Consignment shops where antiques and collectables are sold is a good place to find some cards. But do not expect the large quantities which are available at an actual postcard show.

Can I exchange postcards with other collectors?

Probably. In fact that was the method used by collectors at the turn of the previous century when postcards were just coming out. Ask around. There are numerous ways to get hooked up with postcard exchanges. Go to google and search "postcard exchanges". You will find hundreds of hits. There might be just what you are looking for through that search engine. Again, the internet can open collecting doors to you.

What is the Trading Roster, (aka The Trading List)?

We have a list of people who are primarily interested in exchanging cards. We love to get cards in the mail and are willing to look for cards for others in return. The Roster is kept and distributed by Betsy Kurzinger, ( To get put on The Roster send an email to Betsy with your mailing address, email address and a brief list of your collecting interests. It's best if you use the form:

John Doe
1234 Main St.
Anytown, AK 99999
* Woodchucks, rodents, holidays, beer, aircraft, comic book heroes.

Everyone who is on the list should get a copy automatically. It is currently being emailed by volunteers, and all additions and corrections still go to Betsy Kurzinger. Updates are distributed via email every few months or so. We have a few members who don't have workable email addresses for one reason or another, and they have made private arrangements with some nearby list member to get a mail copy sent. Recently, only updates are sent every month. Every six months or so the Roster is purged, so be sure to pay attention to the listserv announcements.

One cannot receive The Trading Roster without being personally listed on The Trading Roster. It is generally considered bad taste and a "no-no" to distribute The Roster to folks not listed on The Roster. Please protect the privacy of those on The Roster. After all, we hope you wouldn't sell your best friend's address to some bulk mailer.

People, who want to be on The Trading List, must participate in the postcard mailing list discussion forum or have some connection to those there.

Changes of snail mail, email address or interests should be sent to Betsy directly. Note that Betsy only adds people or makes changes if she gets a direct request from the person.

The Trading Roster is one of the main ways in which we all get to know one another and share experiences—and postcards!

A special thanks also to Alan Brushaber and Diane Loukanis all others who have helped in the distribution and organization of the Roster. It's hard work, and we appreciate their work.

What is the IPE?

The IPE is the International Postcard Exchange. The IPE is an organization devoted to promoting peace and brotherhood throughout the world through the exchange of postcards. Membership is $10.00 or the equivalent value in postcards.

For more information contact:
Jennifer Batt, Executive Director
International Postcard Exchange
7960 N.W. 50th St. #108
Lauderhill, Florida 33351 USA
Tel: 1-305-746-8585

How should postcards be stored?

There are many answers to that question, but in general, they should be kept in acid-free, archival quality storage materials, away from light. There are some definite things to avoid: Don't store postcards in plastic containers for long periods of time, and never keep them in the film & sticky back kind of photo album! Both of these storage methods will eventually deteriorate the cards. Keep them away from old craft/pulp paper style albums. These inexpensive papers contain high amounts of acid.

Many serious collectors keep at least their best cards in Mylar (a polyester film) or polyethylene sleeves or in special archival storage boxes or pages. In general, most archivists consider polyethylene, polypropylene, and Mylar stable storage media. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a cheaper plastic, but contains plasticizers that can migrate, leaving an oily residue on your postcards over time. One can recognize PVC by its distinct "plastic" smell. Archival quality materials generally have very little (if any) odor.

What is a "Modern" postcard?

Sometimes the question comes up as to what the definition of a "modern" postcard exactly is. Many collectors of antique postcards consider cards made after the "White Border Era" to be "modern" cards (including linens). Others consider only photochrome cards to be "modern" cards. Finally, others consider only the most recent, currently-published cards to be "modern." If you're in doubt as to what another postcarder is talking about, it is best to ask. This especially true when in comes to setting up a trade in email. If they say "No Modern Cards," find out what the mean by that before you send them a card. If you don't want linens or newer, it is probably better to say "No linens or newer cards" rather than "no moderns." Avoid the problem, and be specific.

What exactly is a "Standard" postcard? What is a "Continental" card?

Finally, the question comes up often about what exactly "standard" and "continental" postcards are. "Standard" postcards measure 3.5x5.5" (89x140mm) while "continentals" measure 4x6" (100x150mm). Of course, these are approximations. Individual manufacturers and cards can and do vary. In some regions regulations specified other slightly smaller or larger sizes. Although cards that are 4x6" (100x150mm) are the most common card today, when a postcard says "standard," they mean something smaller.

What is the difference between postcards and postal cards?

The major difference between a postcard and a postal card is that while both are intended to be sent through the mail, a postcard must have a stamp or other postage added to it. A postal card is purchased in the Post Office and already has the postage printed on it. The postage is in the upper right corner. Postal cards have been printed by the US government since 1873 and by foreign governments for about the same time. Postal cards come as single cards or as message reply cards (two cards attached across a perforated edge.) Reply cards were intended for the sender to pay the postage of the person replying. The replyer simply tore off the reply card, addressed it and put it in the mail (sometimes the reply card was pre-addressed as by a company asking for a reply).

All US postal cards are listed in the same catalogs that list US postage stamps and are part of philately called 'Postal Stationery' which includes envelopes with stamps printed on them.

Postal cards are often found at postcard dealer's tables under the heading of Postal Cards.