Postcard Collecting Tips
Here are some random thoughts from one postcard collector to another. These tips are in no particular order. If you have other tips which you would like to see included, send me an email. email@example.com If you find tips here which need improvement or corrections, let me know that too. What follows are intended to be helpful suggestions.
Obviously these details are not comprehensive. Everyone has different experiences which influence perception. These are just a few tips I offer to encourage collectors to enjoy their hobby. So here goes:
Join a Postcard Club - If a postcard club is available to you, then join. If no postcard club is available where you live, then form one. This monthly gathering will certainly provide you with information, assistance, and even postcards for your collection. You may be able to find trading partners, sell duplicates, get free postcards from time to time, and even display parts of your collection.
Avoid Non-Buyer Remorse - When you see a postcard that you would like for your collection, buy it if it fits into your budget. If you think it is overpriced, yet it fits into your budget, buy it. Here's the deal. If you see a card that you like and do not buy it, two things will eventually happen. 1. You will be sorry you did not buy it. 2. You will never see another postcard like it. So when confronted with a postcard you are not sure about---to buy or not to buy---think about it, then buy it. You can always sell it to another collector or give it to someone else.
A Place for Everything - And everything in its place. As a postcard collector, you will need to set aside a location in your home where you can safely store and access your postcard collection. This place should have adequate space available so you can easily access your stuff. The space can start small and get larger. Plan on it getting larger over time. It can be a portion of a book case or it can even be a whole room. All file boxes or drawers should be accessible. When you have a postcard thought, you will want to quickly access your postcards.
Set A Budget Amount - Buying postcards can be expensive. Establish the maximum amount you can fit into your budget. Keep track of what you spend. When you have reached your limit, quit. But do try to spend your budget amount.
Don't Buy Into The Greater Fool Scheme - When the price of an item is ridiculously high, try to avoid buying it thinking it will be worth more later. The problem with this thinking is that you can get stuck with high priced items that will never sell to anyone else. This makes you the final fool in the greater fool sequence.
Sleeve All Cards - Maintain an assortment of postcard sleeves to use to protect your postcards. Cards kept without sleeves have a tendency to get soiled over time. Most cards need to be re-sleeved when you get them. Sleeves help keep corners sharp too. This is desirable.
Find Safe Storage - Postcards will stay in great condition provided they are not exposed to temperature extremes and high humidity. Further, cards should not be exposed to light all the time. Colors will fade, paper will fox and mildew can form. All of these are bad. The goal is to keep cards in mint condition. Further, protect the corners since sharp corners are very desirable. Use only archival pages if you put cards in binders. And avoid the photograph albums which have some sort of sticky stuff on them. This is really bad for postcards.
Keep A Want List of Categories - While attending postcard shows, the amount of cards available can be overwhelming. So if you have a list of the type cards you want, you can focus on them. Then when dealers ask if they can help you find something, you'll have your list. Try not to collect only one category. This will contribute to disappointment. Have a long list of postcards you would like.
Clean Cards Carefully - If you have a postcard with stray pencil marks, avoid vigorous cleaning techniques. A pencil mark is much less offensive than a fold where the postcard buckled while cleaned or than a card with a missing corner due to cleaning. A battery operated eraser might be a good investment. An assortment of eraser types is useful. Art gum erasers seem to be the best type to use. Experiment gently.
Use Manufacturers' Lists - Some postcard manufacturers have made available lists of the cards they printed. Detroit Publishing, for example, numbered most cards. You can put these lists of cards in a binder which you can bring to a postcard show. The binder can have lists of specific cards you seek. It will prove a helpful tool when building a collection. Fellow collectors have lists of manufacturers which they may share. You can make lists of sets you would like to have. Then check cards off as you get them.
Keep Your Cards Clean - As with any paper collectible, the oils in your hands can have a deteriorating effect on paper. Wash your hands thoroughly before working on your latest acquisitions. Sleeve keepers as soon as possible. Do not moisten your fingers to make going through cards easier. You may want to buy a rubber finger cap. This will help when going through many cards.
Use Magnifiers - Much detail on a printed postcard is hard to read with normal vision. So a magnifying glass is needed often. A jeweler's loop may also help with minute marks. Another sort of magnifier is the page magnifier available at office supply stores. Keep these tools handy for quick access while working on your collection.
Ask For Help - As you encounter aspects of the hobby which you do not understand, ask for help. Knowledgeable collectors are everywhere. Fellow collectors enjoy helping others. And you should help others too. This is a large part of the enjoyment of being a collector. Help who ever, when ever, where ever, how ever you can.
Learn eMail - If you are computer literate, great. If not, get literate. Surfing, searching and email are now an essential aspect of collecting anything. Get a book, ask a kid or attend a library program seminar. You don't need to own a computer. Use the computers at your library for free.
Make Computer Copies - When you find a postcard on the internet that you like, you can make a copy for yourself. Learn to use the right click, save as, then print. These prints will look good in a collection. Cut the copy to size then sleeve it.
Find Space Fillers - When you find a postcard in poor condition which you like but it is in poor condition, you may want to buy it --- for a reduced price --- as a space filler until a better copy comes along. If a better copy never comes along, at least you'll have an example which is better than nothing.
Make Enlargements - When you find a postcard you really like, you may want a larger copy to frame. Take the card to a copy shop. Enlarge it to 8 1/2 X 11 or 11 X 17. Mat it and frame it. This is a good way to increase your enjoyment of your hobby. If the copy shop will not make a copy due to copyright problems, you can find a self service machine and make the copy yourself. You may want to make additional copies for others as gifts.
Organize Your Categories - In file boxes, you may want to group each category. File tabs are available for various sizes of file boxes. If you make dividers for each category, you will be able to determine cards you need. Also, when you want to go through certain categories for the fun of it, you can readily find them.
Price Your Duplicates - You will end up with duplicates. Sleeve them and put a price sticker on each. That way when you go to a club meeting, you can find them in a hurry. You may even sell a few which may mean you can buy more cards. That's part of the fun of collecting.
Avoid Water Damage - Avoid storage in an area which can be subjected to water. This could be a basement or even a closet in a condo where plumbing pipes run overhead. If a leak occurs, bad news will follow. Condensation can also be a problem from air conditioning vents and lines.
Curb Your Enthusiasm - Although you would like others to enjoy your hobby, don't expect to make converts. A person either likes postcard collecting or wonders just why anyone would collect them. You know why you collect. Keep it to yourself. Show your cards only if asked.
About Repairs - Don't make repairs to your cards. Tape is a no no. Glue is even worse. Don't try to remove stains without a lot of experience. Chemicals can not improve a postcard's condition. And do not paint or spray postcards. You will not improve the condition of a postcard without archival restoration training.
Make Photocopies - When you have postcards which have a value greater than a dollar or two each, you may want to make copies for insurance purposes. This is particularly important for cards that are expensive. Keep the photocopies in a different location than the cards themselves.
Build A Reference Library - Depending on your collecting interests, you may want to gather reference books to help you identify aspects of the postcards you collect. Now with the internet available in your own home, many reference books are available online. In this case you may want to establish a folder for favorites. A collection of useful URL's will come in handy. Maps and dictionaries might be a good investment. You can determine what you need to aid in your collection.
Eschew Rubber Bands and String - Do not use rubber bands or string to gather postcards in bunches. The rubber bands deteriorate and leave stains on the card edges. String puts dents in the edges of many cards in a bunch and this is not desirable.
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