Price guides and reference books are invaluable tools for the novice postcard collector. Much can be learned regarding types of vintage postcards, prices of old postcards, their identification and relative scarcity, etc.
One of the most basic guides, and one which we highly recommend for the beginner, is The Postcard Price Guide by J. L. Mashburn. While we find the organization of it somewhat confusing, there are thousands of postcard categories including topicals, artist-signed postcards and real photo postcards.
Others in his series include The Artist-Signed Postcard Price Guide, with hundreds of artists cited and profuse illustrations. He’s also written Fantasy Postcards With Price Guide, the Black Postcard Price Guide featuring hundreds of black Americana images, and the Sports Postcard Price Guide. These old post card price guides can sometimes be found in retail book stores, although more convenient online locations exist. We’ve looked through hundreds of postcard reference books to bring you the list of some of the better volumes, seen in the image below. Click on the individual thumbnails to learn more about the books you’re interested in.
Other useful reference books include the hard-to-find 1975 publication, A Directory of Post Cards, Artists, Publishers and Trademarks by Barbara Andrews; Publishers’ Trademarks Identified by Walter E. Corson; the 1982 Standard Postcard Catalog by James Lewis Lowe; and the 1991 Investment Guide to North American Real Photo Postcards, a profusely illustrated classic which is also somewhat difficult to obtain.
Remember that all price guides are subjective; prices depend on what the market will bear. One good example of this would be glamour girl postcards or “pretty lady” antique postcards. They used to fetch high prices but, with the importation of many discovered in Europe, the market for these softened. As always, condition is important. A card with dog ears or soft corners, with creases, with tears, with postal ink on the front, etc. will always bring less than one in mint condition. Sometimes a lesser card is desirable as “filler,” until one can trade up and replace it with a better postcard.
For collectors of vintage postcards, old postcards and the antique postcard. Deltiology, the hobby of collecting vintage postcards, is one of the fastest-growing collectibles hobbies. Old postcard collections interest collectors of antiques, memorabilia and ephemera; collectables such as old vintage postcards are used by museums and historians to document what was.