Outside of going antiquing with Debbie, one of my favorite past times is postcard collecting.
I started collecting postcards about 10-years ago. To date, my collection has grown to more than 1,500 postcards, which I have neatly organized by state, city/town, person and subject in numerous three-ring binders in four-to-a-page archival sleeves.
My collection consists mainly of postcards with family ties, such as where my parents grew up, went to school, visited on family vacations or lived. I also have an extensive collection of comical postcards from the World War II era and many that date back to the early 1900s, some of which were postmarked before my grandmother was born in October 1909.
I mostly collect postcards from Iowa - Montezuma, Des Moines, Iowa State Fair and various state landmarks; Missouri - Lake of the Ozarks, Bagnell Dam, Mark Twain, Hannibal, Branson area, Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo, Jesse James, Joplin, Boothell area of Southeast Missouri, Current River and more; Oklahoma - Tulsa, Will Rogers, oil wells, Oral Roberts, Route 66 and Oklahoma landmarks; South Dakota - Mount Rushmore, Black Hills, Corn Palace; Washington, D.C., Tennessee - Smokey Mountains, Nashville and Memphis; Kansas - Dodge City and various state landmarks; Niagara Falls - Canada and US sides; Grand Canyon, Arkansas, Mississippi River, hillbillies, military and outhouse comic postcards and more. I have also started collecting postcards of every Iowa town.
Postcard collectors are referred to as Deltiologists. In one newspaper article I read, postcard collecting is the world’s second most popular form of collecting after stamps.
According to an article by Barbara A. Harrison on the American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors website, Deltiology is the collection, study, and preservation of picture postcards for fun, recreation, relaxation, and enjoyment - and for the historical preservation of life in years past.
“Many people collect because they are nostalgic or perhaps yearn for a time they never experienced,” Harrison wrote. “Antique cards give us a glimpse of the past; modern cards picture contemporary times. Antique cards tell us about social climate and life style, changes in transportation and business, and show us what existed before a disaster or a wrecker’s ball had its way. They remind us of places that are gone, or changed beyond recognition. They hold memories.”
Even though I have been collecting for a while, I’m still learning about the art. Many postcards were designed by various artists, certain publishers and time periods and can have great value. Others are as valuable as the collector wishes to pay.
For me, I like to pay from 50 cents to $2 or $3 each. I purchase many of my postcards on eBay and others I get at antique stores and flea markets. The most I have paid is around $11 for a postcard from Van Buren, Mo., the town where my mom attended high school.
I also like to trade and have a gentleman in Des Moines who I trade with at the Old Threshers Reunion and What Cheer Flea Market. I give him postcards I don’t want and I dig through boxes of postcards I enjoy collecting.
Postcard collector shows are held all across America. I’ve been to a smaller show held in early April in Iowa City, but have never been to a big show in such places as Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Wichita or Tulsa. I hope to attend one of the bigger shows in coming years.
Each year I enter some of my postcards in the Iowa State Fair antique division in Pioneer Hall. I usually get a ribbon each year and enjoy that.
And for the first time, I’m going to be giving a presentation on my collection at the North English History Center on Sunday, March 20 at 2 p.m. In late April, I will be giving a presentation on my collection at the Linn County Iowa Historical Society in Cedar Rapids.
It’s good to have a hobby, no matter what it is. For me, it is fun and relaxing to dig through postcards at places such as the Brass Armadillo in Des Moines.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.