Postcards from the swamp

Many of you may not be familiar with Deltiology, but I’m sure you have either picked up some in your travels or sent some to your friends or family at one time or another.

What is Deltiology you ask… it is the study and collection of postcards. The first postcards were published in 1869. Nine years later over 231.5 million were mailed out. Your primitive form of e-mails if you will.

New York postcards

In the beginning collectors sought out those that were postmarked – with those featuring a city or landmark, being mailed from that city. Nowadays, collectors tend to ignore the writings and deal mostly in blank, pristine specimens in whatever topic interests them – like geography, history, art, sports, portraits, animals, etc.

Postmarks do help in dating a postcard though often you can tell by the way people are dressed or the automobiles on the streets. Before digital cameras and cell phones were invented, I used to pick up postcards along my travels in case some of my photos didn’t turn out.

Picture postcards can be assigned to “the Golden Age of Postcards” (1898–1919), the time of the linens (circa 1930–1950), or to the modern chromes (1940). Modern chromes are color photographs and thus differ from photochromes generated from black and white photographs before c. 1915. Picture postcards can also be differentiated on the basis of other features: undivided backs are typical for c. 1901–1906, and divided backs for c. 1907–1915, while white border cards are common from c. 1915-1930.

Worldwide deltiology is the third-largest collecting hobby after stamp collecting and coin/banknote collecting. Collectors may find picture postcards at home in boxes, attics, or scrapbooks, generate their own on trips and vacations, and acquire them from stores, flea markets, friends and relatives or purchasing on the Internet, or through other collectors

Some collectors also like to collect postcards that are made out of cork (Spain and Portugal) or those featuring embroidery, fashioned from balsam, constructed like a jigsaw puzzle or made from tin…I have a few of these myself as I had never seen postcards made out of anything but paper before.

Postcard featuring street car made from cork in Portugal

A postcard I made from a trip to wine country in New Zealand.

The most valuable picture postcard in the world was sent by Theodore Hook Esq. to himself in 1840 and was bought at the London Stamp Exchange auction, UK on 8 March 2002 by collector Eugene Gomberg (Latvia) for £31,758.75 ($45,370.60). It is also considered to be the oldest postcard in the world and with that I bid you adieu until the next time…thanks for visiting! Stay warm

One thought on “Postcards from the swamp

  1. I always loved getting postcards from various people …in my life. I have many postcards from my mother’s adventure ….they tell a story…which is pretty cool. Postcards are like a time capsule…they captured a special time, and place, in the lives of many!


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