Vintage postcards are among the
most popular of all collectibles on eBay and the basis of my own
business selling at the site. Let me tell you why they
represent such a profitable and easy to run business:
In the early days of postcard collecting almost every family had
its own album, sometimes several. These heirlooms were
cherished and passed through the generations, and postcards were
rarely destroyed or lost. Consequently many very early
postcards remain in undamaged condition today, the vast majority
belonging to descendants of their original recipients and still in
their original albums.
Postcards are usually very small and incredibly easy to store
close together in boxes stacked high one on top of the other.
When I traded at postcard fairs, for instance, my entire postcard
stock, once the biggest in the north of England, occupied a tiny
corner of a spare bedroom. Compare this to space needed by
sellers of larger, more fragile, unusually shaped antiques and
collectibles which need to be stored separately surrounded by
bubble wrap and plastic chips, in varying size boxes which must be
placed separately on the floor, not stacked one above the other.
Postcards are usually all the same shape, roughly the same weight,
making them extremely easy to pack and very inexpensive to post.
And that means you won’t have to be constantly looking for boxes
of varying size to pack and post your products, as happens to
eBayers selling oddly shaped items. All you need are a few
cardboard backed envelopes, or you could make your own stiffeners
for everyday envelopes from empty breakfast cereal boxes.
Postcards also fit into any local post box, so you’ll make fewer
visits to your post office compared to larger more fragile items
that need to be individually weighed and postage calculated and
stamps applied one by one.
Most postcards are similar in size and shape and so few features
vary between consecutive postcard listings on eBay, usually just
location, age, condition, publisher and postmark. And that
means you can create one listing template to suit every postcard
you ever list from now to forever, where only title and
illustration and a few other features need changing each time.
People who collect one postcard typically collect lots of
postcards, so you could develop a huge customer base of people who
will watch your listings very carefully, and buy from you many
times in future.
Postcards can very often be purchased in offline auction salerooms
in big bundles at very low prices. That’s usually because
auctioneers don’t want to spend time listing hundreds of items
individually. You’ll often find few private bidders on big
bundled offered this way, primarily because most collectors are
interested in just one or two of those cards and don’t want to buy
hundreds they don’t require just to get at those they do want to
Topographical Postcards and Why They
Are So Profitable
importantly, you should know that not all vintage postcards are
rare and some aren’t even worth the paper they’re printed on.
In fact, some postcards printed in the early 1900s are even more
common than items printed today. This is because the
Victorians and Edwardians were prolific collectors, not just of
postcards but of countless very different things, and during the
Golden Age of postcard collecting, from the late 1800s to 1914
when the first World War started, many millions of cards were
printed. Many of those items were carefully stored away and
cared for over several generations.
that means right now many vintage albums containing thousands of
postcards from more than one hundred years ago are in better
condition than items being sold on the high street today.
Finally, don’t let any uncertainty about age, rarity or value
bother you because very soon I’ll show you how to guarantee
whatever you buy always fetches a profit, and sometimes a big one!
The Two Most Important Words in this
Business and Why You Must Use Them in Every Listing
Two words must go into all your eBay
titles. Those words are 'POSTCARD' and the topographical
location of your postcard, namely the PLACE NAME. This is
because most collectors search on eBay by place name sometimes
accompanied by ‘postcard’ and don't always look under individual
eBay postcard selling categories.
Those two words, 'postcard' and 'place
name' are enough to generate most early visits to your eBay
listings. But there are other things that might influence a
person’s decision to buy a postcard. Such as:
You should be looking for old postcards, the older the
better, preferably pre-1939. The older your postcards are,
the more chance places they depict have changed their appearance
or changed their name. And by implication, that usually
means the more bidders you’ll attract and the higher your
finishing prices will be.
Publisher: Some people collect by publisher and so you'll find
people collecting postcards of Newcastle and Gateshead but only
those created by Johnston and Son of Gateshead who were renowned
for quality, highly detailed postcards under their trademark name
'Monarch'. Other famous publishers include Brittain and
Wright who worked in Stockton-on-Tees and were famed for the
‘Phoenix Series’ and have a popular following today. You’ll
usually find the publisher’s name printed on the back of your
postcard, and you should mention it in your product’s title and
description. Additionally, many photographers and publishers
numbered their images to make them easy to access later and that
number should also go into your eBay listings, preferably in the
title to make searching easier for your potential buyers.
Condition is important to purist collectors, people who collect
postcards per se, but less important to people for whom the scene
depicted is the main motivation to buy. To satisfy
both collector types you must give an assessment of condition
backed with a clear and detailed image of the card from both
* Print and Production Type:
Some people collect only photographic postcards, some only collect
printed items, others seek artist impressions of their
topographical area. This should not over concern you right
now because plentiful collectors exist to buy whatever
topographical postcards you list of whatever production type.
* Format or Size:
The earliest postcards were 'court' size and smaller than most
postcards printed from about 1900 onwards. Very early
postcards had undivided backs, that is devoid of a line down the
centre to separate message part from address section and the
undivided back helps date a card in the absence of other clues.
Postcards were and still are produced in other sizes and formats,
such as bookmark size, giant or midget, lettercards like a
concertina of pictures, and so on. Again, don't worry about
any of this right now; you’ll learn all of these things with
experience, until then what you omit to say about a card will be
obvious from a clear illustration, preferably several
To make the highest profits possible
you should focus on getting the maximum number of postcards
uploaded at any time, based on creating a template for your
topographical view postcards which suits every item you list and
requires only the TITLE and ILLUSTRATION and a few other minor
features changed between listings. Get this right and you
can easily list fifty or more postcards in a few hours at most.
Which Topographical Postcards to Buy
and Which to Avoid
are catalogues to help you price vintage postcards, and modern
cards, too, but since the advent of eBay those price guides are
best viewed as that - just guides - because the only real guide to
what a postcard is worth is the price someone else is prepared to
pay for it.
people are prepared to pay staggering prices on eBay for postcards
they'd like to own.
there's no way anyone can tell you to 'buy this, don't buy that!'
because no one is ever sure what value another person will place
on an item someone else considers virtually worthless. In
fact I've seen many tatty, really ordinary postcards worth pennies
at most fetch hundreds of pounds on eBay and I've sold many such
A Simple Way to Determine Rarity
me tell you why you should always ask the following question
before you buy any topographical view postcard to resell on eBay:
How often could this view be recorded
on a postcard?
If the answer is hundreds, even
thousands of times, the postcard is not rare and could in fact be
worthless. So a church that looks the same today as it did
in the late 1800s will be worth just pennies unless some other
factor increases its value. The same goes for beaches,
parks, cliffs, rolling hills and other common-a-garden views.
If the answer is 'only once' because
this picture depicts the day the church caught fire, for example,
or it shows the Royal Family who visited there once, or it
features a close up tram or a shop owner standing outside the
premises with his name showing above the door, then the view might
have existed for just a few seconds and will now be quite rare or
even unique. That’s because many such events were
spontaneous and few printers, artists and photographers - main
creators of postcard views - are likely to have been present to
record the event. So few postcards created then, coupled
with many having become damaged or lost or discarded over the
decades, means few examples exist today and yours could be a
Especially look out for named location mining disasters with
family waiting outside to hear their loved ones' fates; specific
location railway accidents with bodies and carriages lying
crumpled at the scene; trams crashed with dead and injured still
at a named location.
Notice throughout that last sentence I have used terms like ‘named
location’, and ‘location identified’, because a disaster scene
without some means of identifying the geographic location is not
strictly a topographical postcard at all but rather a ‘disaster’
All articles provided
in good faith and to the best of our research and writing
capabilities. Readers must not act on any information
provided at this site without first of all contacting their
medical advisors. Information without medical back up must
not be viewed as an alternative to seeking medical advice.
is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an
affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for
sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to