Sunday, March 4, 2007

How old is my postcard? Part 2

Welcome to Moody's Postcards, your source for vintage, collectible postcards! My name is Richard Moody and I started the company in 1986 and we have been accumulating "old" (otherwise known as "vintage collectible") postcards for twenty years. We specialize in United States view postcards but we also have thousands of antique foreign views, topical postcards and trade cards. Our goal is to exceed your expectations and provide a superior selection of the collectible postcard you are searching for.

Part 1 looked at the front of the postcard for clues to the age of your postcard so today I will cover the reverse or back of the card. The first thing you need to look for is whether or not the back is divided or undivided. The generally accepted beginning of the picture postcard was the Columbian Exposition in May of 1893 and postcards had an undivided back then which could only be used for the address. That changed on 1 March 1907 when the divided back was authorized and you could included your message on the back. During the undivided back era, many postcards were designed with a blank space on the front to allow a message to be included without defacing the image. This is why you will see my descriptions refer to "proper writing on the front" which means the postcard has an undivided back or I will say "writing on the front" meaning the postcard has a divided back. This 1 March 1907 date refers to US postcards and other countries generally went to the divided back before the United States. England changed over in 1902, France in 1904 and Germany in 1905. See examples below with the Undivided postcard saying "This Side for the address" and the Divided Back showing the left side for correspondence and the right side for the address.

Many people today assume that a postcard with a 1 cent stamp is automatically very old but the rate for postcards was 1 cent until 1951 except for 1893-1898, 1917-1919 and 1925 to 1928 when the rate was 2 cents. Some of us were born before 1951 and we do not consider that VERY old.

Another clue to the age of your postcard is where it was printed. From 1893 until the beginning of World War I in Europe, many postcards were were printed in Europe with Germany and England being a major suppliers since they were the premier printers of the time. Notice that both postcard examples above show they were printed in Germany. During and after WW I, the United States became the dominant producers of US postcards.

Other clues to the age of your postcard are the general layout, stamp box design, printing fonts used by the different postcard publishers and in some cases, such as the Curt Teich Company, the production numbers on front or back.

Next time I will discuss the various stages or eras that postcards went through over the last 100 plus years which can also help in determining the age of your postcard.