Postcard Identification by Age
Postcard Types By Age
The size of a postcard is a tip off as to age. Other
markings will help you identify the age. Here is a guide of how to determine the
age of any postcard you may have. Take a trip through my museum to see what you
can see. Have fun. Remember to copy an image with a right click and put it in
your book of favorite images. No charge. More about copying images from the
Private Mailing Card
The post office produced tons of postal cards well
before any postcards were even dreamed about. The postal card had the postage
printed on the card. It was intended exclusively for a message. There was no
picture on the card. They were used as an important communication tool in the
later part of the 1800's. They make a great collection depending on the
Here are numerous examples of postal cards from early years. Most are worth
25 cents regardless of date. Check a stamp catalog for values of these items.
There are rare ones which are valuable, but not many can be found these days.
You had to be there.
Pioneer Era (1893-1898)
Although there were earlier scattered issues, most pioneer cards in today's
collections begin with the cards placed on sale at the Columbian Exposition in
Chicago, Illinois, on May 1, 1893. These were illustrations on government
printed postal cards and privately printed souvenir cards. The government postal
cards had the printed 1 cent stamp while the souvenir cards required a 2 cent
adhesive postage stamp to be applied to it. Writing was not permitted on the
address side of the cards. Here is an example of this early postcard type. These
postcards can be quite pricey.
More on Chicago History and the 1893 Expo HERE.
Private Mailing Card Era (1898-1901)
On May 19, 1898, private printers were granted permission, by an act of
Congress, to print and sell cards that bore the inscription "Private
Mailing Card." Postage required was a 1 cent adhesive stamp. A
dozen or more American printers began to take postcards seriously. Writing was
not permitted on the address side. Here is an example of a private mailing card.
Although the cards may be a hundred years old, many are worth a dollar or less
depending on the picture side. Others can be hundreds of dollars.
Post Card Era (1901-1907)
The use of the word "POST CARD" was granted by the government to
private printers on December 24, 1901. Writing was still not permitted on the
address side. In this era private citizens began to take black & white
photographs and have them printed on paper with post card backs.
These are cards which were produced by photographers in their studio or
while touring the countryside. Not everyone owned a camera, please. But this
photographic technique was less expensive and often recorded family members for
the future. They are invaluable to family members, but serve less well in
collections when the subject is not known. If there are secondary aspects of a
postcard which are collectable, they can get quite expensive. Some of the more
expensive cards are of aviation, automobiles, occupations, events, notable
personages, and what ever else anyone can think of to collect that they like.
Real Photo Dating Guide
AGFA ANSCO 1930-1940s
ANSCO 1940-1960 Two
stars at top & bottom
AZO SQUARE 1927-1940s
Square in corners
AZO DIA 1907-1908
Diamonds in corners
AZO TRI 1 1904-1918
Four Triangles pointed up
AZO TRI 2 1918-1930
Triangles 2 up 2 down
CYKO 1904-1920s Hollow
CYKO 2 1906-1908 Solid
DEFENDER 1 1910-1920
Diamond above and below
DEFENDER 2 1920-1940
1945-1950---EKKP 1904-1950---EKO 1942-1970---KODAK 1950 on---KRUXO
1907-1920s---NOKO---1907-1920s---PMO 1907-1915---Sailboat 1905-1908---SOLIO
1903-1920s---VELOX 1 1901-1914 has squares in corners---VELOX 2 1907-1914
Diamonds in corners---VITV 1925-1934.
Divided Back Era (1907-1914)
Postcards with a divided back were permitted March 1, 1907. The address to
be written on the right side and the left side was for writing messages. Many
millions of cards were published in this era. Up to this point most postcards
were printed in Germany which was far ahead of this country in the lithographic
processes. With the advent of World War I the supply of postcards had to come
from England and the United States. The value of these cards starts to go down
due to the availability. There are probably zillions of these cards still in
boxes, trunks, and albums just waiting for discovery.
Most of our postcards were printed in the USA during this period. To save
ink, a border was left around the view thus we call them "White
Border" cards. High cost of labor, inexperience and public taste caused
production of poor quality cards. High competition in a narrowing market caused
many publishers to go out of business.
Linen Era (1930-1945)
New printing processes allowed printing on post cards with high rag content
that caused a "linen-like" finish. These cheap cards allowed the use
of colorful dyes. Once of no interest to collectors, they are popular today due
to their availability and price: often low, but on the rise. Now perhaps 25
cents to a dollar. Eventually they may be valued at perhaps several dollars
depending on content and image.
Photochrome Era (1945 to 1960 - regular size cards)
The "chrome" postcards started to dominate the scene soon after
the WWII. These cards are very colorful and are full bleed off the edges.
Continental Era (1950 in Europe, 1970 in the USA to
Postcards printed and sold on the European continent went to this larger
size earlier than the USA. Thus the name Continental has been assigned to this
size postcard. Although this size is not popular with collectors, typically, and
may not even be found at postcard shows, the day will come when this size enters
the collecting market. Now most continentals are 5 cents or 10 cents each.
These cards are an advertising method which is strong in Europe and now in
the United States. The cards are free for the taking. When a rack is filled with
rack cards, it is not unusual for someone to come along and take them all. If
you ever find a rack of free cards, go ahead and take a few of each, but leave
some for the next person. These cards are quite labor intensive to build a
collection since they mostly travel due to a trade. They are valued at what ever
the market will support, as are all cards. But a good rule of thumb is that 25
cents should get you most cards. There are exceptions.