What Are Rare Postcards?


Quick Answer

Rare postcards are those that were originally made to be one-of-a-kind, such as early "photo cards," or those that were bulk produced, but of which few examples remain. Being rare does not always make a postcard collectible or valuable.

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Full Answer

Postcards began to gain popularity in the 1870s, first as blank cards meant to be printed with advertisements, quickly followed by souvenir picture postcards. Early postcards allowed writing only on the printed side of the card, but by the early 1900s, a divided back — allowing separate spaces for the card to be addressed and for writing a message on the same side — meant the picture side could be left intact, ushering in the popularity of postcard use. Millions of postcards were printed and mailed between 1907 and 1915, when the effects of WWI and the use of the telephone brought an end to the golden age of postcards.

Things that affect a postcard's rarity are its original production number, how many remain, its condition and whether it was franked. The significance of the image on the card as well as the written message, the sender of the card and the postcard's recipient all affect the value as well as the rarity of the postcard.

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