Judging from the vast number of pop-up greeting cards that you can find online and at shops these days, you might assume that the format is a relatively recent development, but the cards actually made their first popular appearance during the Victorian era.
Their development mirrored that of the “moveable books” produced for children by such authors as Ernest Nister and Lothar Meggendorfer, but on a much more abbreviated scale, of course. Some had paper honeycomb decorations that could be opened to form pom-poms or hearts, but most were designed to stand up to form three-dimensional scenes.
The design of pop-ups continued to evolve, possible influenced by the publication in 1962 by Florence Tempko’s highly successful book Kirigami, the Creative Art of Paper Cutting. Kirigami combines the paper folding techniques of origami with paper cutting. Though the process generally involves a single sheet of paper, it can easily be adapted to multiple layers.
Today, pop-up cards are ever more innovative and complex – some even have confetti, lights, and sounds – and a plethora of new companies (Lovepop, Freshcut, PopLife, etc.) and paper engineers (Robert Sabuda, Peter Dahmen, etc.) have been competing with Hallmark and American Greetings to gain the attention of today’s consumer – and collector.
While prices for brand-new contemporary cards generally range from $5 to $15, vintage and antique cards are highly dependent upon rarity, subject matter, and condition.
Christmas and Valentine cards generally fetch more than others, as do cards that are not torn, soiled, or written upon. A look at recent sales online found that most single specimens sell for from $5 to $40+, but special pieces have sold for up to $80+.
One last thing: whether you’re interested in vintage, or you’d rather collect contemporary cards for your own amusement, remember to NOT use cellophane tape or glue to stick your specimens in an album; do NOT store your cards in anything other than an archival-safe album or box; and do NOT write anywhere on the card or its envelope. You’ll thank us later if you ever decide to sell.
Interested in learning more about collecting pop-up cards? Check out these sites, and
Greeting Card Association (GreetingCard.org) – Organization sponsors the annual Noted: The Greeting Card Expo for “greeting card makers, publishers, retailers, buyers, artists, sales reps, and licensing agencies.” They also host the LOUIE awards for the best cards in various categories.
Malcom Warrington Invites You to Learn about Victorian Greeting Cards (Collectors Weekly) – Interview offers valuable tips and insight.
Movable Book Society (MovableBookSociety.org) – Their quarterly newsletter, Movable Stationery, offers “features about everything in paper movables.” Site also has links to major paper engineers.
Paper Engineer Creates Magnificent Pop-Up Cards (MyModernMet.com) – Article about Peter Dahmen includes links to videos showing his process.
These Pop-Up Cards Are Incredible Feats of Paper Engineering (InterestingEngineering.com) – Great pics.