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Mon Apr 9 2012 10:55:09

An Expert on Selling Post Cards for Big Bucks on eBay: Part 1

By: Julia Wilkinson

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Post card (otherwise known as "postcards" in some places) expert Avril Harper has decades of experience selling them on eBay and in other venues. She has sold post cards for up to several hundred pounds (and dollars) apiece. Today the AB Blog chatted with Harper about how to tell which types are the most valuable. In Part Two, tomorrow, Harper will share the best places to find these collectibles with the least competition.

Q: Tell us how long you have been selling post cards, and what attracted you to this specialty?

A: I have been collecting postcards for about 45 years, and selling for about forty years.  I began collecting when my grandmother gave me a handful of postcards sent to her by my grandfather from France where he served during the First World War. 

I never parted with those cards, and never would, but they made me keen to learn more about postcards.  So I started visiting antiques fairs and flea markets and buying postcards featuring subjects that interested me at the time.  I have always loved dogs, for example, so dogs became my all-time favourite collecting area.  

I also collected, and still do collect, topographical postcards representing views of places close to where I live.  In time, my topographical postcard collection grew way beyond the areas I had visited or was interested in collecting and that is when I decided to sell some of my surplus postcard at local antiques and collectors’ fairs.  That was in the early 1970s and apart from a few years when I was raising my children I have continued collecting and selling postcards.  All of my selling took place at local fairs and by post until eBay came on the scene and I began selling online and abandoned fairs and flea markets.

Q: You write some about "Real Photographic Post Cards" (RPPCs) being some of the best to sell. Can you explain what these are and how online sellers can spot them when they're out sourcing?

A: Many newcomers are confused about what a real photographic postcard looks like.  It’s important to learn to distinguish a real photographic postcard from a postcard reprinted from a photograph, because the former is almost always much rarer and more valuable to collectors than the latter.   The ‘real’ part of ‘real photographic postcard’ is the giveway because a real photographic postcard is developed in the same way as other photographs, namely from negatives and using chemicals to create the image. 

Because it has one through the usual process of developing negatives into images, the real photographic postcard is usually shiny, just like most other photographs and snaps from pre-digital times.  However, some real photographic postcards are printed on non-glossy paper, and it’s this type of real photographic postcard that confuses newcomers most.

Matted or shiny, real photographic postcards were created in much lower quantities than mass market printed postcards of similar views.  For most purposes, however, it’s the view that attracts most collectors, not just the photographic process involved.  So newcomers can still generate very good profits for topographical view postcards even if they can’t personally recognise a real photographic postcard from a printed one.

One of the easiest ways to recognise a real photographic postcard is to look at the printing on the reverse of the card, where you might see something like ‘Real photographic postcard’ or ‘Published by the Kingsway Real Photographic Company’.

Another easy way to learn what is, and what is not a real photographic postcard is to ask someone selling postcards at fairs and flea markets.  Alternatively, look on the back of postcards where sellers sometimes write ‘RP’ or RPPC’ or similar on the reverse.  Those terms stand for ‘Real Photograph’ and ‘Real Photographic Postcard’ respectively.  Other alternative include ‘RRP’, ‘RP/C’, and no doubt others I haven’t encountered personally.

Overwhelmingly, if a person thinks their postcard might be a real photographic type, but isn’t quite sure, it’s usually best to call it a ‘photographic postcard’ rather than a ‘real photographic postcard’, then leave the decision to experienced collectors.

After a few weeks or months working with postcards, most people can identify a real photograph.

***

Tomorrow: Other factors that make a post card valuable, and the best places to source valuable post cards with the least competition.

You can find more information from Avril about selling post cards and her book at www.sellpostcardsonebay.com.




Comments (7) | Permalink

Readers Comments

An Expert on Selling Post Cards for Big Bucks on eBay: Part 1   An Expert on Selling Post Cards for Big Bucks on eBay: Part 1

This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Tue Apr 10 01:04:56 2012

Julia,

A very interesting blog. Look forward to the 2nd installment.

Bill

An Expert on Selling Post Cards for Big Bucks on eBay: Part 1   An Expert on Selling Post Cards for Big Bucks on eBay: Part 1

by: scview This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Apr 10 07:47:32 2012

If this article qualifies by Auctionbytes as ''an in-depth'' look at a type of online selling that others need to learn about...well...it falls well short of being informative.

It is nothing more than a ''plug'' for a ''guide'' to sell postcards that is designed to milk cash from the pockets of unknowledgable readers.

Click on the link in the article and you are sent to a site that wants to ''sell'' secret tips and knowledge...jeesh

Change a few works from postcards & such and you use the same words to sell weight loss pills & Sexual performance products.

This is a very poor article on a part of online selling & collecting that in reality has a very large collector base..and more than a few experts that actually know some thing about postcards.

Everybody who sells in any collectble business knows that if you sell in an auction format...you will get some items that sell at ''more money than sense'' prices.

The Link in the article above links to a page that treats these occurances as normal.

They are not. They do happen...but not nearly as much as the did on Ebay in years past.

This article is full of ''Kool-Aide'' but low in facts , help , and or knowledge.

It is simply a ruse that promotes a site that is selling ''junk'' knowledge.

Auctionbytes...you need to really take a hard look at articles like this. They serve no good in the long run.

Comments like ''the real photographic postcard is usually shiny, just like most other photographs and snaps from pre-digital times.'' are a gross simplfication of a type of cards.

Pre 1900 Real photopostcards usually have flat mat finishes with partial images across the front of the card, the extra space leaving room for messages.The Paper is stiff so that they could be more easily processed in open vats of emulsion fluid.

Real Photo postcards from 1900-WWI run half & half ''Shiny finish'' & ''Flat finish'' depending on photographic paper used.

After WWI Real photograph postcards are 80-90% gloss finish with a must more supple photographic paper (So that they could more easily be printed from a rotary drum film processing machine)

Telling a Real Photo postcard from a printed postcard is quite Easy.

Take a magnifying class and look at the image on the postcard. See any dots? It is not a Real Photograph postcard. See a seamless image with no dots, one that as you look closer you can see even more detail with the maginifying glass? You have a real Photograph Postcard.

It takes about five mins to teach a person how to spot a real photograph postcard out of a batch of litho printed postcards.

No ''secret'' knowledge is needed.

The Comment: ''One of the easiest ways to recognise a real photographic postcard is to look at the printing on the reverse of the card, where you might see something like ‘Real photographic postcard’ or ‘Published by the Kingsway Real Photographic Company’.'' is partially accurate but overly simple.

See http://www.playle.com/realphoto/?PHPSESSID=ijjcj353tik8b2knv5ehq0q2j1<
BR>
For
an photographical index of Photographic paper stamp box backs that are found on Real Photograph postcards.

This not only identifies the postcards as a real Photograph type or...but also lets you date your image to within a fews years of manufacture.

And again: The best way to tell the difference between postcard types is to look at the Postcard with a magnifying glass. If the photo is printed, you will see that it is made up of a lot of little dots, the same as a photo printed in a newspaper. A Real Photo Postcard is solid, no dots.

The comment: ''Overwhelmingly, if a person thinks their postcard might be a real photographic type, but isn’t quite sure, it’s usually best to call it a ‘photographic postcard’ rather than a ‘real photographic postcard’, then leave the decision to experienced collectors.'' is quite offcolor.

Using this type of description misleads novice collectors and is a very poor business practice. It is akin to fraud to do this. It is ''not best'' to do this.

Look, I have personally sold over $1,000,000 USD of postcards on ebay.[According to Ebay's own stats]

I have been selling online since AOL was just allowing you to post lists of postcards with no picture capability.

I started one of the first postcard web sites [Web-Pac.com] back when Amazon was just an idea.

I was Ebay's #1 seller of postcards for seven years in a row [And flown to LA Expo by Ebay on their dime] before I left them.

I am the number one seller of postcards on Delcampe.com , Bidstart.com , Boocoo.com & Webstore.com.

I run a shop with 10 Employees who do nothing but work on selling postcards online.

In short I believe I know what I am talking about.

This article above is simplistic , self serving & misleading.

The article serves to promote a e-book of outdated & marginal tips.

Contact some real Postcard dealers with current knowledge and get some valid perspective on the postcard hobby.

Contact http://marylmartin.com/ Mary Martin Ltd in the USA , http://www.old-postcards-shop.com in Berlin , Germany, Robert Bogdan Author of the ''REAL PHOTO POSTCARD GUIDE'' at Syracuse University [Book available online , but sorry...no secrets for you to download for a price..just real knowledge], or The Postcarddude on Ebay [160,000+ Positive feedbacks on Ebay & counting]. They will be glad to help you write a real perspective on the postcard hobby.

Stefano Neis
Owner SCVIEW Antique Images & postcards


An Expert on Selling Post Cards for Big Bucks on eBay: Part 1   An Expert on Selling Post Cards for Big Bucks on eBay: Part 1

by: vero This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 11 03:27:30 2012

Thanks Stefano
Great Comment = TRUTH

An Expert on Selling Post Cards for Big Bucks on eBay: Part 1   An Expert on Selling Post Cards for Big Bucks on eBay: Part 1

by: Eyedeal This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Apr 11 04:14:16 2012

Stefano has been so helpful and knowledgeable when I was first learning about postcards.  He knows what he is talking about. Even when I was first selling on ebay, he always had at least 25,000 postcards up for sale.

I studied what he sold and the prices he sold items for and learned so much that way too.

I am relatively new to postcard selling, since 1998 on ebay.  

Thanks Stefano for all your advice and help throughout the years.

Nancee


An Expert on Selling Post Cards for Big Bucks on eBay: Part 1   An Expert on Selling Post Cards for Big Bucks on eBay: Part 1

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Apr 11 09:46:17 2012

Thank you Stefano. Years ago I picked up a box of postcards along with some other nifty things at a yard sale for $10. The Post cards were fascinating to look at, but I didn't know much about them. I read Julie's on-line magazine and saw the reference for the lady that the above post was about. I too was frustrated that when I got to her site, there was no real content, just a push to buy her e-book. I still have that box and someday when I get caught up in listing my niche products (LOL!) I Will check into the resources you mentioned. Your post was much more informative than the original post. Thank you.

An Expert on Selling Post Cards for Big Bucks on eBay: Part 1   An Expert on Selling Post Cards for Big Bucks on eBay: Part 1

This user has validated their user name. by: Nan
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Thu Apr 12 11:29:46 2012

@Stefano - Thank you for your generous and informative post!  I just compared my small stash of RPPC's to the information on the Playle's site, and learned two new things about them!

An Expert on Selling Post Cards for Big Bucks on eBay: Part 1   An Expert on Selling Post Cards for Big Bucks on eBay: Part 1

by: Allotment This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Apr 19 12:27:56 2012

Just wanted to echo the many posts above.  It was a disappointment to see a 'Get rich quick' article on your site.  The inaccuracies regarding Real Photo postcard identification are well covered in the response from Stefano above and I'd add a reference to the excellent New York Metro club site on the subject --   http://www.metropostcard.com/guiderealphoto.html



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