|Mon Apr 9 2012 10:55:09|
An Expert on Selling Post Cards for Big Bucks on eBay: Part 1
By: Julia Wilkinson
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.