`The postcard was not invented, it evolved and with its creation the writing habits of the civilised world changed `, so said expert Frank W. Staff. Yet as with the hand written letter before it, the postcard has been naturally surpassed by the internet and emailing, as the most convenient means of keeping in touch with people. But the postcard is regarded as more than just a method of communication - to collectors and historians they represent the spirit of a bygone era. When the world`s first postcard appeared in Austria in 1869, it triggered off a craze for postcard collecting and caught the public`s imagination, so much so in fact that in their heyday between 1890-1920, they even took the place of traditional family photo albums. Picture cards became status symbols and would reflect a person`s position in society. Cards such as those published by `Valentines of Dundee` and `Raphael Tuck` in particular, were especially sought after as these were of the highest quality.
During this golden period, postcards featured every conceivable subject, after all these were exciting times. Notable examples included hand painted picturesque views of famous sites and buildings, while fantastic photographic images captured major political and sporting events, as well as recording and celebrating important moments such as early aviation. But from another perspective these cards are historically significant because they provide an insight into the social history of the world, by visually depicting and charting the effects of defining moments which include the First World War, and the rise of industrialism.
A number of factors will influence a collectors purchase, first and foremost they will consider the card`s condition. Any sign of wear or markings which has effected the card`s appearance will lower it`s value. On most occasions, a person`s interest will determine how popular postcards will be. But there are exceptions, original card sets will attract collectors whatever the subject, as they are rarely found on the open market, unless they have re-issued on limited edition. Two examples worth mentioning, are one which illustrates Dante`s Inferno, which uses lavish colours to portray dark visions of decent into purgatory. This unusual piece wills undoubtedly is the centrepiece of one`s collection and would cost $120 for 12 cards. This is matched by the second item which features the Anoxic campaign during World War One. Published in 1918 this extremely rare six-card set provides stunning images and is listed for $80.