How Do I Find the Value of an Old Postcard?

Ellen van Deelen/CC-BY-2.0

The value of an old postcard can be found in guides including volumes published by Kovels and Picture Postcard Values. Kovels has an online subscription service that allows users to view prices of various postcards. Picture Postcard Values features prices for more than 6,000 entries and illustrations for more than 400 postcards in a book available to order.

Kovels explains postcards were first permitted in Austria in 1869 and then in the United States in 1872. Many postcards collected by contemporary aficionados were created after 1910. Hand-colored versions were made during the 1920s and 1930s. The amount of postage on a postcard can help date the item.

Many factors determine the value of an antique postcard including age, condition, topic and rarity. The Postcard Guy lists several eras for postcard collecting, including Pioneers, Early Century, Mid Century, Chrome and Modern. Pioneer postcards are the earliest type and were made before July 1, 1898. Most Pioneer cards were printed directly on government postal cards. Modern, or rack, cards can be found in restaurants and on retail racks all over the world.

Europeans enjoy postcard fairs where enthusiasts, buyers and sellers gather to discuss postcard collecting. Dealers can buy booth space at these fairs, which occur every two to four months.