Saturday, August 4, 2012

Protect Your Postcards

As I have mentioned several times before, I started collecting postcards when I was a small child.  I cherished those cards that my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends gave me.  Unfortunately cherishing an item and taking good care of it can be two entirely different things.  I had about 100 antique at that time but they are definitely worse for wear.  I had shoved them in a box and then repeatedly removed them to look at the lovely images.  Handling them with bare fingers and not using care caused them to be dog eared and worse.  You have to remember I was only around 8 years old at the time.

By the time I was ten I was starting to realize the value of some of these cards.  I found magazines in the library etc. so I knew I wanted to organize my growing collection and protect them.  But I was not knowledgeable enough and my folks didn’t really know either.  They had no interest in the collection so they basically let me do whatever I felt would be right.  So I put little letters in the corners (sometimes with pen, Aghhh!) and covered them with saran wrap and taped them closed. 

A few have survived (by a miracle) and don’t have writing on them.  I find them to be very near and dear to my heart.  But unfortunately most of them are in a grade 4-5 condition are what I consider to be very poor.  Over the years I learned how to better keep them and had them in photo albums and real sleeves but the other unfortunate thing was that the common public really didn’t know about the difference between acid free albums and the other. 

It is really important to keep your collection in a cool, dry storage area away from direct sunlight.  I you keep them where it gets too hot or has direct sunlight it can cause damage to the colors and may cause them to get brittle.  Using Acid free materials is also imperative; I buy the actual postcard sleeves which is the best if you are really serious about collecting.  I only remove them from the protective sleeve to scan the images and then I carefully place them right back in.

Store them so that they are lying flat.  I have some in my collection to sell that are slightly curled because they were carelessly stored on their edge and never checked.  If your cards look like they are getting bent or curling you are going to have to find another way to store them.   Some are stiff enough to be filed this way but some are not.  Real Photo Postcards tend to have the most problem with this and naturally want to curl a little.  I find that making sure they are lying flat or in an album helps to prevent them from getting more curled. 

Never write on the postcard itself, no matter what, file them with a catalog system or organize them in an album but do not write on them.  Even if the pencil is light it still may cause damage to the card and bring down the value.  A serious collector may pass it up or want it for a lower cost if you have it marked directly on the card.  Often I see prices and vender numbers on them.  I still get them and sell the card but it can bring down the value.

Here are some great resources to purchase the postcard sleeves from (Note: all of the cards I sell come with a protective sleeve)
I purchase from Playle's Collector Supply on Ebay at  They seem to have better prices and I have always had a good experience with them.  Their feedback score is 100%
You can also buy directly from BCW and save if you buy in large quantities.  Even though I use a lot of sleeves their shipping costs are killer so I typically will use Ebay to find the best deal.  But you can check them out at
Other useful storage items are photograph boxes (found at Michael's) and Postcard Album Pages (found at BCW or Playles Collector Supplies)

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