Aficionados buy and sell historic postcards frequently at a fair price. Postcard collectors also buy for their collection.
Those stale older cards from your grandparents’ lockers could be worth a fortune.
While most people nowadays prefer to post photographs of themselves while on holiday to their social media page, sending postcards was previously a common practice.
Up until the 21st century, postcards were the primary means of communication. Did you realize that vintage postcards are highly valued nowadays, despite social media? Which are the most valuable, then?
You’re about to find out, though. These things are currently becoming more expensive. Keep reading to know more old postcards.
Table of Contents
19 Most Valuable Postcards for Postcard Collectors
The collectibles industry is currently paying a lot of attention to postcards, which have evolved into collectible cards.
For a variety of reasons, Collectors collect them. For example, some collect postcards as decorative items, while others use them as mementoes—especially those with rare images.
Regardless of your motive in the postal card collection business, values for old postcards may continue to go up as time goes by. This is because collectors spend a lot of money buying the most priceless antique postcard, while vendors spend a lot of time and effort keeping the most priceless ones.
Among other important factors that we will discuss in later sections of this article, their significant modern worth continues to be heavily influenced by their rarity in the 21st century. But this section will look at nineteen of the most valuable vintage postcards.
After reading, you’ll understand the valuable postcards in high demand if you need top dollar, why people desire them, and where you can find them. Additionally, collectors and auction houses will learn how to negotiate bargains that benefit both parties.
Without further ado, let’s dive into it.
19. Hollins VA Postcards
One of the first private postal cards was the Hollins Institute panorama card. As of May 19, 1898, the U.S. Congress permitted people to use them.
The card contained space on one side for the addresses. One scribbled the private message on the side with the Hollins institution.
Keep in mind that the theme of this postcard is art and universities. As a result, you can use them as wall décor in your home.
This postcard’s historical significance and vintage Hollins photograph attract collectors.
The lowest cost is 34.95 USD.
18. Royal Postcard of Staff of Maharaja
Are you an enthusiast of rare Indian postcards? Then, this old card will serve Your expectations.
You may see a picture of the Maharaja of Cooch Behar’s staff on the front. If you decide not to sell it, the item can also serve to spruce up the interior design of your office 0r house.
It’s also a fantastic gift for someone who enjoys vintage masterpieces. Keep in mind that the card is made of paper. So handle it carefully if you have it. It is also a 1950s London print.
The cost is at least USD 40.
17. Hubbell Michigan Snow at House Postcard Collection
These postcards came during World War I, when white border postcards were the primary trend.
Few people used postcards because of the effects of war. These actions cost the printing companies money.
Therefore, these companies decided to create unprinted white borders. As a result, cards like the Hubbell Michigan collection saved ink more.
The Hubbell is an example of real photo postcards depicting the Hubbell house in the winter. There are lots of collectors that want to own it.
Because of its history, you should already anticipate the postcard’s great value. These postcards existed from 1915 to 1930. They cost roughly $40 at the very least.
16. Brattle Street Postcard
These postcards from the 1940s stand out since they are made of linen. Even now, linen enhances the brightness and longevity of ink marks.
In addition to the card’s quality, many customers adore the artwork. Older vehicles with distinct coloured front parts are all its unique features.
You also like the charming appearance of the historic Brattle Street in the U.S. Collectors should keep in mind that Harvard University is the primary focus of the card.
Thus, the art of Harvard, vehicles and town significantly increase the card’s value. Unfortunately, these days, obtaining such a postcard is difficult.
They cost at least 18 USD today.
15. Japanese Geishas Dancing With Musical Notes
If you loved music back then, this 1914 postcard would be ideal for you. The front of the card features Japanese Geisha dancers and musical notation.
Through music, it enabled people to appreciate the sender’s culture. You can also play the music by reading the notes on the card.
Your collections will gain value from these cards. However, it is one of the very rare vintage postcards. So, be careful with it if you have one.
These musical postcards cost at least $20.
14. Chinese Fruit Seller Postcard
You will receive a substantial profit from the sale of this postcard rarity. The initial users sent it by Russian postal service to China. The years 1903 through 1915 saw a lot of them.
Given its lengthy history, it is sure one of the most valuable old postcards so expect it to be in high demand. Just keep in mind how plain the card appears. A fruit salesman clutches some bags on the front of the card, and people use the card to wish their family members well.
Prices may start at $30 and go up to $4000.
13. Grand Rapid Michigan Postcards
The Memorial Towers and Fulton Street Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan, are depicted in this vibrant postcard from Grand Rapids, Michigan. The scarce Benjamin Franklin one-cent stamp is another unique element of this lovely, culturally and historically relevant card.
Messages can be written on the back of the card, giving them enough room. This paper-based postcard, published in Michigan, United States, in the 1930s, is presently valued at $500.
12. Capuchin Missionaries in Ottoman
The Capuchin missionaries sent the card in the early 20th century in Mesopotamia.
It depicts two horses tied together transporting a missionary cart. One of the earliest images of Iraq and one of the wackiest stretched limousines you will ever see! But the driver eats carrots.
Today the postal card is worth up $1000.
11. Pioneer Postcards
The pioneer postcard printed in 1898 in the USA is quite precious. It belongs to the category of early postcards.
The U.S. Congress approved the production of this postcard in 1898. The cards served as advertising tools and frequently contained details about a store or a sale.
Since U.S. postal service law prohibited writing on the address side of a postcard until the early 20th century, they only had writing on one side.
Due to its rarity, this card has a high value. As a result, these cards are selling for at least $400.
10. Governmental Postcards
Although private companies started producing postcards well before the 20th century, the U.S. Government didn’t allow an inscription of the phrase “postal card” to be used on their cards until the 1900s.
In 1872, the U.S. government began issuing “official” postal cards to lower the cost of using postcards because private postcards were more expensive.
The United States Postal Card tag and a stamp were on the top corner of the governmental postcards, which had a straightforward design.
It permitted writing or messages on one side. However, in the 19th century, U.S. law did not permit writing on the official postcard’s address.
Despite having a basic design, the Governmental Postcard is one of the most valuable cards. It is selling for roughly around $1,000.
9. The Launch of the RMS Titanic Postcards
The Titanic ship probably doesn’t need an introduction because it was a well-known symbol of tragedy and grandeur. However, this information increases the historical relevance of the postcard’s statement about the ship’s inaugural voyage.
The 1911 postcard was created and published by the Ismay & Imrie Firm in Liverpool, London, United Kingdom.
The postcard carries the inscription, “The Launch of the S. S. Titanic May 3rd, 1911.” It presents a photo of the Titanic ship leaving Southampton Dock alongside other smaller ships before its fateful voyage.
Designers of the product gave the image a decorative framing. As a result, the card is attractive to the eye despite having minimalistic graphics and portrayals.
The Launch of the R. M. S. Titanic postcard value runs up to $2,000.
8. Olympic Three Men of Carlisle
The Olympic three men of Carlisle postcard is especially beloved by sports fans. Three athletes affiliated with Carlisle, Pennsylvania, are shown on the card: Olympic athlete Louis Tewanima, coach Pop Warner, and football hero Jim Thorpe.
To honour these athletes, Carlisle residents created and used this card in 1912. The sportsmen’s last names were listed beneath the statement, “The Three Men Carlisle will Honor.”
In Pennsylvania during the nineteenth century, the postcard had widely used. It is one of the most valuable postcards because of its vintage status, historical importance, scarcity, and general setting.
The Olympic three men of Carlisle postcard costs approximately $1,500.
7. Ellen Clapsaddle Signed Christmas Postcard
Before the invention of email and social media, family members simply mailed Christmas postcards to their loved ones throughout the holiday season.
The most expensive and desirable of its kind is a Christmas postcard that the American illustrator Ellen H. Clapsaddle has signed.
On the postcard with Ellen Clapsaddle’s signature, a young child wearing a blue Christmas outfit and headgear presents Santa with a note while carrying a bag of gifts.
Its use of various vibrant colours in its design sets it apart from other products. In addition, the postcard bears Ellen’s signature and the message, “Best Wishes for a Happy Christmas.
These old postcards can cost up to $1400
6. Young Boys Pump House Postcards
The Young Boys Pump House postcard serves as a reminder of a significant time in U.S. history. It brings to mind the U.S. oil boom and the infamous use of child labour in various regions of the nation. The latter was eventually made illegal in the U.S.
The card depicts the Kern River Oil Field in Bakersfield, California, with four young boys gathered around a pump house and oil rigs.
One boy is in front of a pump house, while the other three boys are on the roof of a warehouse. Thus, the inspiration behind the postcard’s name. A certain Carl and a friend created the card together after taking the photo.
This 1908 postal card with historical significance when in excellent condition, It’s a unique object that collectors lust after.
The Young Boys Pump House postcard brought about £6,000 at auction.
5. Cleveland Indians Postcards
Nap Lajoie, Addie Joss, Elmer Flick, and seventeen other Cleveland Indians (now known as Cleveland Guardians) are baseball players in a photograph by famed baseball photographer Carl Horner.
These individuals were among the first players to gain the Hall of Fame induction. The value and attraction of the cards among baseball fans were therefore aided by the faces of these Hall of Famers. Finally, in 1905, the U.S. issued the card.
The Cleveland Indians cards are one of the most sought-after baseball postcards, which attracts aficionados. The card is monochromatic and features designs and images in black and white. The card also features the team name “Cleveland” and the year of issue “1905.”
4. African Mother and Child
A unique vintage postcard from the 19th century, the African American Mother and Son postal card features two people.
In front of the American flag, it shows a young, crouched African-American mother cradling a young boy. As a result, the card has historical and cultural significance.
It has a simple, monochrome design with black, white, and brown colour tones and is also rare to find.
At an auction, an African American mother and son postal cards brought in $16,000.
3. Boston Red Sox With Rookie Babe Ruth Real Photo Postcards
When the postal card debuted in 1915, Ruth Real was 22. At the time, he was 710 home runs away from his record career, which lasted four decades after retiring.
While he had slugging skills, the eighteen-and-eight pitching record during the official rookie season made him a Fenway fan favourite.
The image on the card is thought to have welcomed the Braves Field faithful for the third and fourth World Series games. The Boston Red Sox-American League Champions-Season 1915 is written at the postcard’s bottom border, featuring squad photos from the production before the Boston Red Sox won the World Series.
Each player is identifiable in the traditional team photo by their position and the last name, printed in bold; Ruth Real sits in the back row’s centre in the picture.
It was one of the first recognized collectibles made before Ruth appeared on trading cards and recently sold at an auction for a value of $34,000
2. 1911 Tower Behind Trees
The “Tower behind Trees” was created by artist Karl Schmidt-Rottluff in 1911. Stamped
postcard with coloured crayons over ink sent to Dr Elsa Hopf, Hamburg. Additionally, the artist has included a handwritten remark on the verso. It recently sold at an auction price value of $28,000.
1. Penny Penates
The first and most valuable postcard was made in 1840 by English writer Theodore Hook in a fun manner.
From Fulham, London, Hook sent himself this picture postcard from the 19th century, which included a hand-painted depiction of 12 post office employees with large pens and a Penny Black stamp.
The item wasn’t found until 2001 when British postal historian and philatelist Ted Proud made the discovery.
In addition to being the oldest postcard, Penny Penates is the sole surviving example of Penny Black, the first adhesive postage stamp.
Additionally, it shows the words “Penny” and “Penates” inscribed on either side of an oversized green ink well with the designation “Official.” With just watercolour, Hook could complete all the designs on the paper postcard.
In 2002, Penny Penates sold as the most costly antique postcard ever. Latvian postcard collector Eugene Gomberg purchased the postcard at the London Stock Exchange auction in 2002.
Recently sold at an auction value of $44,000
How to Grade Old Postcards
Just like with every other antique collectible, the condition of old postcards is an essential consideration in its value.
Even though postcard grading is an inherently subjective process, worn, torn, or unclean cards typically have a lower value. Therefore, if you find broken cards, they might not be worth much financially and are best used as filler.
When purchasing cards, be cautious of descriptions like “average” or “good for its age,” as these typically denote that these cards may not be in good condition.
Below are some of the ways to grade your postcards
These are flawless cards identical to how it was when it was new, without wrinkles, bends, writing or postmarks and postmark date, and as though not mailed. A rare sight and term that isn’t typically used to describe old cards, these cards are crisp and immaculate with sharp corners.
Similar to Mint, but with minor signs of ageing or tarnishing, likely from being stored in an album or another unprotected storage media. They are s Still spotless and flawless cards, though.
Postcards that look like Mint have no bends, folds, or pinholes and have no noticeable faults. However, the card’s corners are square rather than rounded or blunt; thus, it might be postally used or unused.
It may contain writing a postmark on the address side alone, but this does not take away from the appearance of the cards, which are clean and new on the image side.
It might exhibit some age symptoms, a fading of the colour, or perhaps the tiniest hint of album marks when seen at an angle or in bright light. However, this is typically regarded as the basic situation in terms of value.
Even if the condition is less than excellent, postcards with corners obviously rounded or blunt and slight bends or wrinkles are still collectible.
It may have moderate creases and minor postal damage, whether worn or new, revealing apparent flaws, but these flaws won’t detract from the item’s overall beauty.
On the front or address, there may be writing or postmarks, as well as other noticeable album marks or discolouration. Postcards in this condition could be worth less than those considered to be in excellent condition by a collector.
On the other hand, the incomplete postcards display a severely damaged image. These types of cards are a space-filler and of relatively little value. Consequently, they are graded as poor and don’t even deserve a special heading.
Factors That Affect Old Postcards Value
Are you interested in adding old postcards to your antique collection? while you conceive that brilliant idea, here are the factors that affect the value of old cards
Rarity: Postcards’ value is increased by scarcity, as with all antiques. Your card might be extremely marketable if it was a limited-edition printing or if few have survived the years. However, rarity often coexists with other qualities; for example, a card is considered rare if it has just one printed copy.
Subject Matter: Another important factor when evaluating value is the subject matter of the cards. Cards from historical events or locations that are long gone provide a window into the past. Certain subjects, like historic ocean liners, command high prices from enthusiasts, and these cards may sell for more at auction.
Antique enthusiasts may specialize in particular subjects like pets, railways, sports, or holidays.
Postmark: Along with the message on the back, a postmark can assist in determining a postcard’s age and provide authenticity for lovers. The postmark’s type and state can significantly impact the value, though.
Postmarks from unique locations or those created by obsolete devices might be marketable. The value of a postcard can increase with fancy cancellations, such as a hand-drawn one.
When purchasing a card with a rare cancellation stamp, you can face further competition because some people specialize in collecting postmarks only.
Other factors include
- The country of the cards
- Signature of an artist
- Photos or printed
Where to Buy or Sell Old Postcards
If you are considering selling some or all the postcards in your collection or want to buy more, below is a list of marketplaces to make good money.
- Antique stores or shop
- Antique collection websites
- Garage sales
- Estate Sales
Among the unique items are old postcards. These things’ worth varies depending on age, rarity, current condition, and topic.
The vintage postcards on this list offer the market’s most excellent prices. Some of these cards cost a lot of money. However, despite being prestigious vintages, others frequently sell for less money.
The most expensive postcard available is a Penny Peanuts card. Because it’s the oldest, it sells for a high price.
Vintage postcard collecting is enjoyable and lucrative. In addition, some of these cards can beautify the interior of your home, office, or other areas.
Do you have any unique vintage postcards? Please tell us in the comment section.