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Postcard Collecting Tips for The Beginner Collector

by Bob Hendricks

These articles are reprinted from 1958 issues of Post Card Collector News


Part 1

March 22, 1958

Deltiology made its more recent surge of popularity in the early 40’s. This was about the 4th peak the hobby had made since 1900.

During World War II the hobby of collecting picture post cards reached new heights with a more serious trend to collecting for purpose rather than whim.

With this revival mail exchanges between collectors in all parts of the world once again made the post card a sought-after and pleasure-giving item after more than a decade.

Outside of the racks in local stores and traveling the only new source for cards was to exchange card for card with collectors in other areas.

Until 1945 the field of mail exchanging expanded rapidly. As collectors across the nation became closer together, cities with enough collectors formed local clubs permitting collectors to get together for the first time to exchange, discuss and display their cards. The local club idea spread to more than 20 cities in the U.S. in a very few years.

In the early 50’s extensive research was started by methodical collectors and groups which had a tendency to bring collectors out of the “general views” classification into a more highly specialized and technical field. The older cards took precedence to the newer cards. In more than 50 years this was the first great change in the usual procedure of collecting cards.

With richer tastes it then became more difficult for the advanced collectors to make satisfactory mail exchanges. The new trend for old and rare cards plus the elaborate cards of the turn of the century made wanted cards harder to find and too costly to send back and forth in the mails.

It was then also that prices of sought after cards sky-rocketed out of reason in an effort by unscrupulous dealers and unethical collectors to make a fast buck. The field of research had brought more knowledge to the collectors, made them aware of finer cards and the reason why. Naturally after 50 years not many of the gems of yore were available to the increasing amount of collectors who wanted them.

Collectors revolted at the unfair increase in card costs and in time prices have leveled off and with the exception of a few uninformed dealers who are not familiar with card values.

During this revolt, by supply and demand a more natural relationship of prices did evolve with most collectors satisfied with prices that had worked themselves into relative positions.

Today, the novice comes into an entirely different field than did the collector of the 40’s. He can start as a specialized collector, he can join a local club and make quicker contacts and learn the inner workings of this hobby more rapidly, or he can start as of yore as a general collector. He can trade by mail or with local collectors from a broader selection of more colorful cards than a decade ago.

It is becoming more and more apparent that a new group of collectors are following the trend of the 40’s with an increased interest in exchanging modern cards.


Part 2

April 5, 1958

Today, in keeping with a natural trend of inflation, post card collecting is more expensive to pursue than it was a decade ago.

With the majority of modern cards on the rack priced at 5¢ each as compared to the 1¢ card of the 40’s naturally the collector will have to buy and exchange more cautiously in order to amass collections of such volume as his predecessors.

It was nothing for a collector in the 40’s after two, three, or four years to reach the 100,000 mark in his collection. The collector didn’t pay 1¢ each for all of those cards — undoubtedly many were given to him by friends or he bought collections and quantity lots.

Today with finer old cards having been recognized for their worth in a collectors eyes, and with current market price for new cards 5 times greater a new collector must tread with caution, especially with the increased postage costs.

The new collector can go for quality instead of quantity and have a very worthwhile collection. Many of the 1940 quantity collections were accumulations of anything and everything. If quality cards were removed it would have reached a figure far short of 1000.

A beginner must decide if he wishes to accumulate or collect. Is he going to keep all that comes his way, or is he going to specialize in one or more subjects? How much time does he have for corresponding and exchanging, filing and keeping records of his collection. How will he store his cards? Does he have ample storage space for a good size collection; will he keep his cards in shoeboxes, file cabinets or albums? A novice today has the advantage of seeing the hobby from afar where a decade ago the beginner surmounted the problems of his collecting activities as he came to them. Maybe this made the hobby more appealing.

When a beginner passes the stage of a stack with a rubber band around them he should consider the procedure he will follow next. How rapidly will my collection grow for storage space? Will I start with shoeboxes, file boxes, or albums?

I heartily suggest the beginner use shoe boxes, unless cardboard or steel 4x6 files are readily available. As the first shoebox fills up, the collectors can see what his trend is becoming as h manages to classify and itemize cards which have appeared repeatedly in his box. A shoebox will hold approximately 800 modern cards.

He should decide then if he is going to collect by subject or geographically, or both. With a shoebox full card separators are a necessity to know quickly what you have.

If you plan to collect by subjects, start an alphabetical file starting with all subjects beginning with the letter “A” and on through “Z.” For example: art, airplanes, autos, boats, birds, buildings, cats, courthouses, catastrophes, etc.

If you plan a geographical file, procure an alphabetical state index and set to the basic state segregation. Under each state place city cards in alphabetical order. Once it becomes apparent that a state is too large for easy location of cities, subdivide the state by sections of the city (parks, downtown, civic buildings, residences, hotels, or any specific location worthy of its own divider. It is wise too when old and new cards of a city become in abundance, that the old be divided from the new. Of course by the time your collection has reached mammoth proportions. Such subdivisions are vital in locating your cards to avoid duplication.


Part 5

November 29, 1958

You may have entered the hobby with a specific card in mind and a desire to collect only that type of card. Maybe you have picked a subject that is available in abundance or one that is like the proverbial “needle in the haystack.”

Maybe you have been introduced to new and interesting types of cards that you didn’t realize were available, and in such abundance. Maybe you have added to your specialties.

For the novice there are many classifications or categories in which he might expand.

GEOGRAPHY: An unlimited field offering a wide variety and inclusion of special subjects under the locality in which they originate. Includes map cards.

BUILDINGS: Most civic buildings are widely collected with court houses and post offices being the most popular. Governor’s mansions, state capitols, city halls, etc. Public buildings include museums, libraries, schools, colleges. Churches are very popular—as churches or specialized by faith. YMCA, YWCA, Masonic, Elk, and American Legion halls are plentiful. Theatres, hotels, stadiums, dining rooms, restaurants, and swimming pools are also plentiful.

ANIMALS, BIRDS, FISH: This field is as wide as are species, both wild and domestic. Most popular in the domestic are the cats, dogs, and horses. The wild animals are predominantly illustrated on zoo cards. The National wildlife Federation has an extensive line of animal, bird, and fish cards.

TRANSPORTATION: Old and new of trains, streetcars, buses, planes, boats, automobile, wagons, tractors, military. Next will come rockets.

SCIENCE: Observatories, laboratories, stars, planets, etc.

NATURE: Rocks, flowers, trees, seasons of the year, sunsets, snow, land, sea, and air, etc.

RELIGION: Churches of all denominations, interiors, exteriors, parish houses, shrines, grottos, personalities, schools, etc.

ARTS: Music, literature, art, personalities, works of same, homes, monuments, galleries, etc.

FAMOUS PEOPLE: All walks of life: Presidents, governors, mayors, sports, theatre, religion, birthplaces, homes, graves, monuments, etc.

LABOR: Farm, factory (interior and exterior), equipment, Unions, etc.

GREETINGS: All holidays, New Year’s, Valentine’s. St. Patrick’s, Easter, etc.

POLITICS: Presidents, Governors, Mayors, Senators, issues, campaigns, conventions, etc.

THOROUGHFARES: Pathways, country roads, city streets, highways, freeways, interchanges.

CITIES: Skylines, aerial view, street scenes.

CATASTROPHIES: Floods, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, wrecks, etc.

ADVERTISING CARDS: Products advertised on post cards.

MILITARY: Army, Navy, Air Corp, Marines, Seabees, etc. Camps, ships, planes, armories, etc.

LODGES & CLUBS: Elks, Shriners, Masons, Lions, Rotary, etc. buildings, personalities, etc.

This list could go on and on, unlimited as there are things in this world that could be reproduced in pictures form on a post card. This inkling of subject matter leaves the hobby at your disposal to collect what you wish, and how you wish. Happy Hunting!


Part 6

December 6, 1958

To the general public our hobby is still somewhat of a novelty. Though practically everyone had had contact with post cards at one time or another — it still somewhat amazes many to witness a display of post cards.

In the past 10 years, hobby clubs, antique shows, local post card clubs and individuals have done much to bring the hobby to the eyes of the general public.

On a nationwide scale the All States Hobby Club with a convention in a different city each year has been a strong leader in the public relations department of Deltiology. Though the ASHC is primarily an all hobby club, it was started by post card collectors eleven years ago and post card exhibits have predominated in each of their hobby shows since.

Local post card clubs such as the Metropolitan Club of New York, Windy City Club of Chicago, Wolverine Club of Detroit, Bay State Club of Boston and the Pasadena Post Card in California are just a few who have put on numerous hobby shows and exhibits to educate the people of their city on the fine qualities of their hobby.

Individuals in the hobby have singularly made the greatest strides in spreading the word of our hobby to the nation. Displays in schools, libraries, and store windows have done much to tell of our good qualities. Individuals have had write-ups in newspapers and have appeared on radio and television shows to give the hobby a boost. The non-collector (person who has no instinct to save things) can be completely amazed at a nice display to think that people would collect an item like a postcard, and the results interests and delights them. The collector who has never been brought into contact with our particular hobby can see and appreciate the why and wherefore of saving post cards. Quite often new recruits to the hobby are drawn from other collecting fields. Generally speaking, if a person does not have the collecting nature they can not be smitten with Deltiology. It’s in the blood — you have it or you don’t.

You as an individual may find many opportunities to expound the virtues of our hobby. A timely and educational subject displayed in a library or school lobby will do much to stimulate interest and win you acclaim for your unusual cards. Holiday and historical cards are always good.

Holiday cards, and historical cards that tie in with dates and city and state or national holidays attract considerable attention when placed in downtown store windows in connection with a commodity being offered by the store. Some times a series of related cards scattered in the same corner of 6 or 8 windows of a large store can induce a window shopper to make sure he looks into each window to see additional cards.

Old cards of your home town usually create quite a stir when put on display or written and illustrated in the local newspaper in connection with a local event.

If you belong to social organizations, planned talks and mounted cards at any of the Lion’s Club, Women’s Club, Rotary, or other local clubs will be welcomed.

Your specialized subjects might easily tie in with a local concern which they could use as material for displaying their merchandise. A good example of this was shown by Rubie Sharon of Redondo Beach, California. For years she has been specializing in rare decks of playing cards. Playing card post cards have been an associated collection. For the past two years she has been asked by a Casino in Gardena, Calif. To display her playing and post cards in their lobby. Special cases were built with glass fronts to hold the cards.

Her cards have created a minor sensation with visitors to the Casino. The proprietors have been so pleased with the public reaction that what was to have been a short term exhibit at the start has extended into more than two years with the company offering Mrs. Sharon a periodic check for a nominal amount for the use of her cards.

Perpetuate your hobby, show your cards, share your hobby, develop interest in what you are doing into your locale — who knows, you might even create enough interest to start a local post card club.


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