Dating postcard backs

The back of a post card can give several clues about the age of a card.

How to Estimate the Age of a Postcard

If the postmark on a postally used card is readable, that is the first clue to its age. Most of the cards that made it to the post office were mailed within a year or two of being produced. On a card that was not mailed, the first place to look is the stamp box.

Stamp boxes are the small rectangular boxes printed on the upper right hand side, where the stamp is to be affixed. By comparing identical mailed and unmailed cards, researchers have developed a pattern to determine when a particular style of card was produced. On real photo post cards, codes in the stamp boxes can also be helpful in dating the card.

Stamp boxes on printed or lithographed cards also offer dating clues.


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Often there is a reference in the box to the amount of postage required. Of course, if the card is used and has a stamp, that too gives a clue, both by its value, and the style of stamp itself. When World War I ended at the end of , the rate was lowered to its prewar level of one cent. The postal rate was raised briefly from 1 cent to 2 cents in and in ; the conclusive raise to 2 cents was in Commission Rate Board overestimated revenue needs in and was forced to reduce the postage rate in Most of the earliest American picture post cards that exist today are those that were sold at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, starting on May 1, These were illustrations on government-printed postal cards and on privately printed souvenir cards.

The government postal cards included a printed 1-cent stamp; the privately printed souvenir cards required a 2-cent adhesive postage stamp to be affixed. Messages were not permitted on the address side of the cards; after attempting various forms of explaining that regulation, the U. Private Mailing Card Era An Act of U.

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The required postage was a 1-cent adhesive stamp. At this time, a dozen or more American printers began to focus on post card production. Still, no message was permitted on the address side.

2 thoughts on “Dating and Authenticating Real Photo Postcards”

Real Photo Post Cards to Post cards that are actual photographic replications were first produced around They provide a quality black and white photographic record of history in the making and they can usually be enlarged somewhat without losing image quality. They may or may not have a white border, or a divided back, or other features of post cards, depending on the paper the photographer used.

Many of the real photo post cards being done at the current time are reproductions of earlier historic photos. Ile de France, Paris: Marianne - a French national symbol, with French definitive stamps. Pic du Midi - observing stars clearly, A64 Carcassonne, A Futuroscope Vulcania Space City, Toulouse.

Le Tour de France: You find a pretty and interesting postcard in a secondhand bookshop, maybe in France, or on e-bay. But the correspondent did not date their message and the postmark franking on the stamp is smudged. Can you discover how old the card is? To help make some sense of being able to date old postcards, first we give a short general history of postcards.

This is be followed by more detailed listings for some countries - Great Britain, the United States of America and France. The card had the address on one side and a message on the other, but no picture. Before this, there were advertising cards that were often hand-delivered. One of the first postcards, sent in Austria in Postcards started to be sent internationally in , after the first meeting of the General Postal Union in Berne. Because only the address was allowed on the back of the postcard, messages were written on the same side as the picture.

Below is an example, written anywhere and everywhere. Cesson - Grande Route de Rennes and tramway. Thus, the other side could be to be used entirely for the picture.

Previously, messages had been crammed onto the same side as any image. Chicago white border postcard. Linen postcard with a white border.

Dating and Authenticating Real Photo Postcards – SABR's Baseball Cards Committee

Linen postcard without a border. Most linen postcard production stopped in with the start of World War Two, although some printers continued with this fabric-based printing stock until the early s. It must be remembered that many years, even decades may pass between the taking of a photograph, when it was published on a postcard, and when the postcard was posted. These were the first privately printed souvenir postcards in the country. The words "Post Card" were not printed on postcards until December 24, Cards previous to that had to have the Private Mailing Card Statement.

dating old postcards

So, if your card is marked "Private Mailing Card," is dates from - A divided back postcard example 3 has a line down the middle, or some other indication that one half of the back is for the address and the other half is for a message. Early postcards had an undivided back example 2. The back of the postcard was for the address only. There was often a statement that said "this side for address only. If your postcard has an undivided back, it is from or earlier. Many early postcards were printed in Germany.

The German cards were of exceptional quality and are some of the best examples of old postcards available.

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