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Picture Postcard Popularity

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Question: I think this Halloween postcard is just darling. It's in great shape for being over 100 years old (it's postmarked 1912). When did people start sending postcards? Was mine one of the first? How much is it worth?

Answer: Vintage postcards are particularly popular with collectors. These small cards cater to all interests, provide history and are affordable. The United States passed postal regulations allowing postcards in 1872; however, picture postcards did not become popular until shortly after 1900. Most postcards found today date after 1910. One of the most collectible categories in the field is Halloween. Your card shows the imprinted signature of American artist Ellen Clapsaddle (1863-1934), a highly regarded illustrator associated with the Wolf & Co., which was a major postcard publisher in New York. Her postcards are coveted by deltiologists (postcard collectors), especially those cards featuring children, jack-o'-lanterns and African-Americans. Don Clarke, a postcard collector and dealer, suggests the value of this early 20th-century card is $20 to $25 based on the wear on the upper left corner and the subject matter. Condition and subject matter are extremely important factors with postcard collectors.

-- by Tom Hoepf, associate editor of Auction Central News


Don Clarke; The Postcard Price Guide: A Comprehensive Reference, Fourth Edition by J.L. Mashburn (2001: J.L. Mashburn/Colonial House Publishing, 828-667-1427,; Fantasy Postcards With Price Guide: A Comprehensive Reference by J.L. Mashburn (1996: J.L. Mashburn/Colonial House Publishing).