We are always buying postcards and photos from before 1950 - email us at circa1910@tampabay.rr.com.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


We begin 2011 with a post for Angel-lovers as they appear on turn-of-the-century New Year postcards.  Angels appear with many classic New Year accoutrements, and also combine with the technological marvels of the early 1900s to add a 'modern' touch to the greetings our ancestors were sending to friends and family.

The first card in our post shows an EAS-published design of an Angel driving in the New Year in a shamrock-bedecked automobile.  Wherever found on early 1900s postcards, the green four-leaf clover is a symbol of Good Luck.  Traditional New Year postcards feature symbols of good luck and wealth.  In this post we see both these traditional designs and some unusual images.  Below is an Angel rowing pink blossoms into the New Year in a wooden shoe.  Like all the postcards in this post, it has nice embossing.

One of our favorite series shows a variety of Angels riding New Year bells in what appears to be the arched opening in a belltower.  They have rich embossing and bright shining metallics added - this series appears with either silver or gold, and we show two examples here.

Some of the Angels in this series are sweet like the one on the left (who may have lost his wings, unless they are tucked behind him).  The one on the right is more sensual and even a bit sulky...in any case, they all wear the skimpy scarves or ribbons we see here.  The traditional bell is for ringing in the beginning of a New Year, and bells appear with Angels, children, Father Time and on simpler New Year designs, too.

Below we see a glorious Angel in a belltower.  She holds a hammer to ring the bell, and a golden star lights up the dark sky behind her.  Magnificent colors, and, again, very rich embossing.  This is an early undivided back postcard so the sender has written a message on the front in the spaces provided.  

Here is an Angel with the classic image of wealth - golden coins that fill a big bag, overflowing in a dramatic image of financial success. The smiling Angel wears a pink gown, a pink floral headdress and even has pink-tinged wings.   Pink roses complete the unusual color scheme.   In other New Year cards, the gold coins appear with elves, pigs, children, pretty ladies and pouring out of purses. 

Below is an Angel with another classic New Year image - the Midnight Clock which appears in many New Year postcards.

Here the clock is decorated with red clover and green shamrocks, and our little Angel holds bells - a postcard that combines several symbolic details.

The last postcard in our Angel New Year post shows an unusual scene published by B.W....proving that even heavenly little Angels can overindulge during the holidays.

Price Estimates:  Angel postcards vary widely in design and price and can be purchased between about $5 and $20.  The ones shown here are all embossed, and most have gold or silver details added.  In EXCELLENT condition, they cost about $10 to $20.  Remember, these prices are only estimates.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Buyer Beware - Warnings & Pet Peeves

We have been buying, collecting and selling postcards since the 1970s, so we have had plenty of opportunities to make mistakes - we hope to warn you against making the same ones.  Our thirty-plus years of deltiology have also given us many opportunities to gather pet peeves.  Here we present both

Buyer Beware
This old rule - that the buyer needs to have a healthy dose of self-protection - applies to collecting postcards as it does in any purchasing situation.  Dealers often fail to mention the imperfections on their postcards from simple soil to terrible tears.  Sometimes they have not noticed the flaw; sometimes they are choosing not to mention it. Look carefully whether you are buying online or at a show. 

At a show, put aside all the cards that you are considering buying from any given dealer and then, when you are finished searching, go over the cards carefully, taking your time.  If the cards are in sleeves, and they usually are, you may wish to remove the cards for a closer inspection; sleeves hide a multitude of flaws.

When buying online, search beyond the seller's description.  Even when you trust the seller, examine the card carefully.  The best sellers can make mistakes.  Plus, there is NO reliable way of evaluating the difference between grades of quality as they are used by sellers.  For instance, we have seen both VERY GOOD and EXCELLENT condition used to describe postcards with tears, ink stains, large creases, pinholes and other significant flaws.

IF the flaw cannot be clearly seen in the photo on the listing AND the seller has not mentioned the flaw in the listing, you may be able to return the postcard for a return - we encourage you to do so, as returning postcards that are poorly described helps to keep sellers honest.  You may have to pay the return postage, which doesn't seem fair, but is the usual manner of accepting returns.  At Postcardiva, we pay postage both ways if the error is ours but many sellers will not offer you this.

Pet Peeves - We always feel peeved when sellers use non-descriptions such as "over 100 years old!" (yes, we know)... "wear appropriate for age" ... "normal wear" ... "expected wear" ...  "typical wear" ... (there is no such thing...you can find a postcard of any age that is near mint, and the exact same card in a condition indicating it has been used to scrub the floor.)... "nice condition" or "great condition" without any details (what does that mean?)

More Buyer Beware
Your best bet in receiving postcards in the condition you expect is to ask questions and to examine the picture on the listing very carefully before you bid or buy.  If the photo on the listing is small or underexposed, we recommend skipping the listing...it's easy to upload a good quality photo of items for sale and we are suspicious of sellers who choose not to do so.  Also, we know that buyers can be at fault.  We have purchased desirable cards in a fit of excitement and found when the postcard arrived that a flaw was visible - but we missed it. 

We attended an eBay seminar where the speaker said "rare" was the most over-used word in eBay listings and we have noticed this is true in postcard listings.  If you have a good library of postcard guides, you will have a way to research if the postcard is indeed rare.  Another way to check is to look in the eBay Stores and Completed Listings to make a price comparison.  You may find several of the cards you saw in the Auction listing available in Stores for more or less than the Auction opening bid.  Shop both carefully and completely and you will find cards you want at prices you can afford. 

Today is Halloween, which reminds me of another odd problem.  We've seen labeling of postcards that is just wrong...for instance, European Easter witches flying on brooms listed as Halloween postcards.  Also, Thanksgiving postcards with pumpkins can be listed as (the more valuable) Halloween postcards.  Look carefully!

There are so many Buyer Beware points when purchasing Real Photo postcards that we will devote an entire post to RPPCs later.

More Pet Peeves - We are always irritated when sellers label ordinary cards as though they are the artwork of popular artists.  We don't pretend to know everything about every artist - there are fat books about this - but we do recognize how sellers try to glamorize their listings by attaching Flatscher, Brundage or Schmucker to listings of postcards with uninspired artwork.  We collect those three artists, and don't like to see their illustrious names attached to poor quality designs.  The fact that so many of their images are unsigned opens the door for unscrupulous or ignorant dealers to use the artists' names on designs that are not theirs.  Your best protection against this is to know the work of your favorite artists so well that you can recognize their style.  When in doubt, either question the dealer (we have sometimes learned valuable information this way) or refer to your guidebooks. 

More Buyer Self-care 
 We recommend you limit your collection with a few basic rules. Rules are personal - you will decide what rules you want to use.  The purpose in limiting your collection interests is to keep you from becoming crazy (or destitute) following up on every attractive card you see.  Because we consider our collection an investment, for instance, we do not knowingly buy cards that have flaws.  We will wait a long time to find a card we like in excellent condition, passing up those that appear with creases, bends, corner chips or marks to the front.  We have also chosen - arbitrarily - not to collect black and white artwork or state views (except California and Florida, our two 'home' states).  With these rules, we have managed to keep our collection to a workable number.  Most people find they have special interests and some collectors only purchase one specific kind of card, like Advertising or Indiana views.  We have been at shows and met people who only collect hospitals or images of people vomiting (true, I swear) and once read about a lady who only collected postcards of cows with one foot in the snow.  Now, that is a limited collection!

Do you have your own pet peeves, shopping experiences or buyer warnings to share?  We would like to hear about them!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lots and Lots of BABIES - Multi-baby Fantasy Postcards

In this post we look at the charming and odd multi-baby or multi-babies postcards...these were published in France, and are flat cards with lots of babies (and sometimes toddlers) placed in a variety of settings.  We begin with babies driving around in an automobile with a stork (probably from one home to another, dropping off babies along the way), and with babies perched, sleeping and seated in nests on tree branches.  

 A more unusual multi-baby card shows babies and some young children with an old-fashioned fire engine. The ladder is 'decorated' with children.  Some of the children have  dresses, suits, odd hats, a number with military flair. Others are dressed only in nightgowns or underwear. Each child has its own attitude, and, because these are collages, the scale is not always consistent.

Below, the babies are on a round amusement park ride, lots of babies squeezed into the seats.

 Here are children riding in a hot-air balloon far above the town, with lots of pretty girls, a child with a tophat and little babies in the rigging.  There's a big balloon, a basket, but no heater - keeping in mind the safety of the babies, no doubt.

One of the most fascinating themes in the multi-baby realm shows babies drinking milk from a cow - here is an example of four little ones and a placid bovine tolerating the feeding process. 

Below we see a bicycle race with little children riding and also filling the bleachers as spectators.  Again, the scale is erratic and the riders vary from tiny babies to children with Victorian outfits.

A later version of the multi-baby postcard is a real photo collage of babies on an airplane. Note the scale - the babies are either very large or the airplane is very small.  Nice tinting adds a healthy pink shade to the naked babies, some of whom have luggage.  What, do you suppose, is in those suitcases? 

 During and after World War I, a series of multi-baby postcards were produced in France that alluded to baby soldiers and to re-populating the country after the losses in combat.  Below are two patriotic multi-baby postcards - both tinted photo montages - with infant soldiers among flags and a chariot of Victory drawn through the sky by doves.   

We close with another early 1900s multi-baby image - one of my favorite printed baby scenes - showing the infants in an orchestra, each child with an instrument, and a baby serving as Conductor.  Delightful, humorous imagery to add to any postcard collection! 
Price Estimates:  Multi-baby postcards were made of flat, soft paper and often have noticeable edge and corner wear.  Finding them in Excellent condition is difficult. Therefore, this price estimate is for cards with some edge/corner wear but without holes, tears or significant creases.  Prices range from $5 - $18 depending on how common or rare the image is; pictures of babies in cabbages, women plucking babies from ponds or carrying babies in buckets are common and at the lower end of the price range.  Postcards of rare images and/or in superior condition are at the higher end.  

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mechanical Antique Postcards

This post focuses on MECHANICAL postcards - we define mechanicals as postcards that move, that change, that DO something.  Although some dealers use the word "mechanical" for cards that do not fit this criteria, we feel strongly that the term should be reserved for cards like those shown here.  Our first illustration is a risque mechanical - when you open the door a lady in the bathtub is revealed

The children on this Easter mechanical change to a lady with a dressed rooster when the tab is pulled.  This type of mechanical is sometimes called a "venetian blind" card. Santa Claus cards of this type are  a wonderful addition to a holiday collection.  This type of card is also available with risque scenes.  Children love mechanicals - the pull-tab type of mechanical postcard can be found in newer,  less expensive postcards.  One popular pull-tab postcard shows an alligator and the pull-tab opens and closes his mouth.  When you are shopping for postcards to give a child, we recommend you look for fun postcards that are low in price - children may enjoy their postcards without taking terrifically good care of them, and you don't want to be anxious about cost and care.     
The Thanksgiving Turkey postcard is an example of "kaleidoscope" mechanicals where the wheels on the side of the card allow a colorful striped disk behind the die-cut design to be turned.  This creates a wonderful moving effect, and these postcards come in many holiday and greeting designs - an Easter egg, a  butterfly, a dancer,  a lighthouse, some stunning Christmas and New Year images and more.
The lady standing outside a house with a pink flowering tree is an example of "calendar" mechanicals, where wheels allow the day and date to be changed for the occasion.  These are mostly designed to be birthday or holiday postcards, and there is quite a variety.  Although they are colorful and often embossed, these can be acquired quite easily. 
Here is a pretty girl on a calendar mechanical with a mailbox.  The colors and embossing are superb, yet this card can be purchased at a reasonable price.  The series includes an assortment of lovely girls.

This ship themed mechanical postcard has a fuzzy plush background and a die-cut ship that stands up from the background.  We show it flat and with the die-cut standing.  The colors are applied to the highly-embossed image by airbrush with brilliant blue forget-me-nots and gold details. 
 The last postcard in our selection of mechanicals is a French postcard for the soldier to keep track of how many days he has remaining to serve.  In other words, it was an early count down device!  Very colorful, with wheels for the date today and the remaining days at the bottom. 
Price Estimates:  Prices for mechanicals vary according to the rarity, condition, and theme.  At the most reasonably-priced end of the spectrum we find the calendar and stand-up postcards, which may be purchased for about $10-$15 each, or even less if you are a careful shopper.  As we move up the value scale, the kaleidoscope postcards cost between $30 - $50 each. All the pull-tabs (including "venetian blinds") range from $15 up to high prices for the rare images - risque, Santa Claus, etc.  These estimates are for postcards in EXCELLENT condition, and they are only estimates.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


This post focuses on Gibson-published Halloween cards, with brilliant colors on flat designs.  Art deco cards,  produced from about 1915-1920s, are becoming more popular as the competition among collectors to purchase top quality postcards from 1898-1915 becomes more intense.  Also, art deco styling is growing in appreciation and value in every form, from artwork to furniture, and that increases the prices of these fun Halloween postcards, also.  The Gibson postcards with Halloween designs can be whimsical, such as the series shown here with spooky jack o' lanterns and surprised children with their pets.  The children wear court jester costumes in bright colors - we love the color palette used in these designs! 

Another series has a bright orange and black 'checkerboard' trim around the edges; here is an example.  In this image we see the same pumpkin with a surprised child suited up in a traditional clown costume.  The color scheme is more subtle and restrained, relying on the images for impact.

The cat border marks one of the most highly valued Gibson Halloween designs - these cards cost over $100 each and any purchase of them below $100 should be considered an excellent bargain for any collector.

The two cards here with little girls show off the same humorous artwork combination...jolly pumpkins scaring the kids on vibrant backgrounds with bright - even startling - colors.

In a slightly more sinister vein, a black cat blows a holiday horn and appears to dance with a ghostly character sporting a jack o' lantern head...
We finish this post with a witty Gibson Halloween design that uses a spider web as a background for our tumbling little girl in her jester-clown outfit with pointed hat.  A witch rides through the orange sky, or may have become entangled in the web, while a belltower holds down the left side of the image.  

Price Estimates:  Like all art deco design, these vivid postcards are increasing in price.  Expect to pay from $25 - $40 for the orange designs, and (as described) over $100 for the designs in the popular cat-border series.  These prices are for postcards in EXCELLENT condition, and they are only estimates.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Whitney HALLOWEEN Postcards

Whitney published postcards, as I have mentioned in a previous post, seem to suffer from being too new, too simple or just too sweet.  For whatever reason, they are priced lower than other antique postcards.  Some of the Valentine, Christmas and Easter images are certainly less imaginative and elaborate than the works of other publishers, often lacking embossing.  And those Whitney holiday postcards frequently feature cute children, with the emphasis on cute.

While collectors who treasure fine artwork may focus on postcards published by Paul Finkenrath Berlin, Meissner & Buch, Faulkner, Winsch and other publishers, I urge you to examine Whitney postcards more closely and evaluate whether there is a place for some of them in your collection.  In this post, we look at some Whitney Halloween postcards, all of which are embossed.  Above is an image of the Whitney little pumpkin heads bobbing for apples in a night scene lit by a big yellow moon.  A black Halloween cat arches its back - probably scared of children with jack o' lantern heads. 

Here is one of my favorite Halloween images from Whitney,
with a cheery child in a jack o' lantern clown costume, standing between two tall metallic gold candleholders,  an art deco design with bright colors and shining gold details. 

A wonderful series of owls and cats communing in the woods offers huge yellow moons surrounded by shining golden spatter.  Here is one of this series, where the two well-known Halloween icons appear to be comparing claws.  The blue sky and misty leaves make a fine contrast with the other colors that light up this design.

The impish rascal on the right plays in a soft blue evening sky with a big pale moon, shining gold stars and white fireworks above dark trees and a house, outlined with shining gold lines.  This design includes nearly day-glo colors on the imp, with turquoise skin and brilliant orange cap and shoes.  Is this a true Halloween design?  We choose to put it in our Halloween collection, based on its greeting:  Stay at home though the moon shines bright, for Elves are floating around in its light.     

Below is another charming pumpkin head design, with the black cats feeling much more playful in this scene.  The lettering is in gold and it says, The blackest cats that ever were seen wish you good luck this Halloween.  Looks as though one pumpkin head has carved a pumpkin head for the cats.  One cat is already sporting his costume, and another is about to be slipped into his feline pumpkin head.  I don't know any cats that would tolerate this sort of hilarity, but this is a fantasy postcard after all.

We close with an example of an unusual fun series from Whitney that pairs the usual black cats and pumpkins with an unexpected group of dressed mice, all celebrating together like Halloween holiday pals. 

Price Guide:  Whitney Halloween postcards are rapidly increasing in price.  We paid $18 and up for the ones shown in this post, but they have about doubled in price since then.  You may still be able to get some bargains in the $20 - $30 range.  On eBay, you can put in a Search for Whitney Halloween if you are interested in being alerted when new listings appear. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

An International Postcard Exchange

I'm delighted to add a link at the bottom of the Postcardiva blog to postcrossing.com, which is an easy and fun way to exchange postcards with people around the world.  Check this out - I think you'll like it!  It would also make a great activity for a youngster who loves to get "real mail". 

Monday, September 13, 2010

NOVELTY Postcards - Add-ons, Silk, Velvet, Real Hair & More

Novelty postcards are full of surprises - with such a wide variety available, you can add novelties to almost any existing collection.  They are the perfect way to begin a youngster's collection, because children love the unusual and humorous charms of novelty postcards.  Plus, novelty cards have been produced from the early 1900s until modern times, so there are lots of novelties to choose from when selecting for your own collection or for a young friend's. 

In this post, we begin with simple novelties and progress to some more expensive types.  Above, velvety rabbits decorate an Easter postcard.  Fabric attachments included velvet, "silk" which is the term used for almost any shiny fabric, felt, and other materials as the subject required (for instance, there is a padded pin cushion novelty postcard of a lady's big bottom in plaid cotton).   Here are a big purple velvety Iris bloom, and a padded red "silk" heart. 

 This pretty silver postcard has die-cut (or die cut) edges, adding to its fancy charm.  Die cuts could be on the edges of a postcard or in the center of the design as we see in the booklet novelty postcard with yellow roses.  This greeting card "opens" which is another form of novelty - the booklet-style of card that had pages inside for printed or hand-written good wishes. 

Attachments or "add-ons" are another category of novelty postcards.  The greeting booklet above has a ribbon tied hinge, and ribbons are popular attachments.  Novelties also come with dried flowers, beads, feathers, spring tails for animals, "fur" or "hair" which is not real even if it says so in the dealer's advertisement, little envelopes in which notes could be stashed, and even unusual attachments like cigar labels, bags of salt on linen postcards from Utah's Salt Lake, or seeds as shown on this St. Patrick's Day postcard. 

There are some fun postcards with cut-out holes so that fingers can be inserted to create a lady's legs, even a donkey's ears.  Children find these amusing, and they especially like "squeaker" cards that had a little squeaker placed  between the layers of the postcard, with an air hole, so that pressing the center of the card created a squeaking sound.  "Google" or "googly" eye creatures are another popular novelty for kids - all sorts of animals in vibrant colors inhabit these cards with add-on eyes that roll when shaken. 

Metal add-ons may incorporate a metal charm into the design (turkeys on Thanksgiving cards, for instance, or Happy Birthday lettering on a floral design) or be the whole of the design as shown on this Best Wishes card with a metal shamrock as well as lettering.  These cards are made of heavier-than-usual stock to accommodate the prongs that held the metal attachments in place.

Another form of novelty is the postcard with exceptional embossing, as shown in this Easter design of chicks and a huge egg.  These may be referred to as "heavy" or "extra" embossing, and the colors were usually applied with airbrush.  Some are simple and crude  -  this is an example of a fine-quality postcard where the colors are elaborately designed and carefully applied.

Novelties include postcards made of unusual materials - in this group we include wooden, copper, celluloid and leather postcards.  Fold-out (called Pullout in Europe) novelties have accordion-folded views inside the postcard which are revealed when a flap is lifted.  The bathing beauties are an example of this - they are sometimes listed as MECHANICAL postcards so we suggest you look in both categories when you are searching for these.

More elaborate silk novelties include those greetings and holidays where fabric clothing is applied to an already colorful, and usually embossed, design.  These Easter girls are an example:

Above are two New Year novelty postcards, both with the date in the design and with attached calendars.  Each calendar has pages inside showing the months and days.  The one on the left also has fringe attached,  and a blue bow at the top. 

Here is an unusual novelty with a lady behind an added metal screen that is attached to the postcard with the edges secured between the postcard's layers.  The entire effect is that of a screen door - she is waiting for a fellow to come and invite her out, and she has picked out the day when he should show up for their date.
Our last and most expensive novelty in this post is the Santa Claus with a beard add-on.  These postcards, as well as the pretty ladies with hair attached, are usually advertised as "real hair" although, of course, the hair is not actually real. Santa is shown here on an embossed  postcard with beautiful colors and a Christmas design including toys, evergreens and colorful holly. 
PRICE ESTIMATES:   Simple novelties  may be purchased for about $5 and up, and middle-range novelties for $10 and up.  The complexity of the design, the quality of the artwork, and the richness of the embossing on holiday cards will add to the price, as will the rarity of the novelty.  Very unusual or hard-to-find novelties will cost more - "real hair" Santa Claus cards can cost up to $200 or more.  These are prices  for cards in Excellent condition, and they are only estimates.