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Tue Apr 10 2012 11:38:57

Where to Find Valuable Post Cards to Sell on eBay & the Titanic?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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This is Part Two of our interview with Post Cards Expert Avril Harper, who has been buying and selling the cards for 45 years, sometimes making hundreds of pounds on a single card.

One idea to keep in mind in selling post cards (aka "postcards"), as well, is what events are in the news: for example, the post cards pictured above and below, which recently sold for high prices on eBay, feature the Titanic, which has been in the media a lot recently because of director James Cameron's exploration of the wreck and a new tv miniseries about it.

Sourcing Post Cards: Best Places to Find Them

Q: In terms of sourcing, where are the best types of places, in your experience, to buy postcards to resell?  Estate sales, "boot" sales, flea markets. from private collectors, etc.?

A: I buy from all of those sources, and more, and it’s also possible to buy entire collections on eBay and from other online auction sites.  But I’d say the best place to purchase from is auction salerooms in small towns and villages which few big postcard dealers know about and which even fewer ever get to visit.

Local salerooms are where most people offload collections inherited from family members, and because most vendors know little about postcards themselves, it’s possible for extensive collections to sell way below their potential resale value on eBay.

Generally speaking, the least profitable places to source from are direct from traders specializing in postcards, because they know how much those items are worth, and
usually there’ll be no scope for buyers to make money from reselling other dealers’ stock.

Q: Can you tell us about some of your most exciting postcard sales over the years and what made them so valuable?

For me and most other experienced sellers the most profitable postcards represent known locations, such as towns and cities, as well as small villages.  Items that depict specific locations are called ‘topographical’ postcards.  But not all topographical postcards are worth buying to resell.  I have sold postcards for several hundred pounds apiece, as have many other eBay sellers, and I’ve had others that remain in my eBay shop for years no matter how much I reduce my prices.  

Factors likely to make one topographical postcard worth hundreds of pounds while another is practically worthless include:

-  Rarity of the view.  If the view had to be photographed, or drawn or painted, within a short space of time, perhaps just minutes, then few photographers and artists would have the chance to reach the scene to capture the view.  So we are talking here about a royal visit, for example, or a tram or railway accident, or perhaps a suffragette breaking windows and being led from the scene by police.   Some incidents last just seconds or minutes, and very often just one local photographer could reach the scene in time to capture the view. 

-   If a one-off, short term event, like a tram accident, happens in a small village away from mainstream public transport services, that makes it even more unlikely more than one photographer or artist will arrive at the scene to capture the view.  And again that makes the item more valuable than a similar incident taking place in a major town or city where several photographers and artists might be vying for space to record the event.

Other postcard types, such as featuring specific artists, or depicting dogs and cats, or depicting thousands of different subjects, are also potentially very valuable on eBay.  But there’s a lot to know about those other types of postcard which many people fail to learn even over a lifetime of buying and selling postcards.  That’s why I always recommend newcomers stick to selling topographical postcards.

Least Valuable Post Cards

The sign of a topographical postcard worth very little, if anything at all, is a view that could be depicted any time of any day, such as an empty park or church without vehicles and people passing by, or a well known popular tourist attraction such as Buckingham Palace in London which was the subject of many thousands of postcards. 

Avril's Biggest Sales

I have had several postcards sell for two and three hundred pounds (or three to five hundred dollars on the American site) and usually purchased from local auction salerooms where collectors and major postcard sellers were absent on sale day, and which cost me just a few pennies apiece as part of a larger collection.

So to summarise, make the most money by focusing on:

-     Real photographic postcards.

-    Views of events that were short-lived.

-    Views of locations distant from major transport systems.

-    Views with a lot of activity which are usually referred to as ‘animated.’

I hope my experience helps you to make a good profit buying and reselling postcards on eBay.


Thanks to Avril Harper for sharing her years of experience with us! You can find more information from Avril about selling post cards and her book at

Have you had success selling post cards on eBay, Delcampe, or elsewhere? What image or view was on the post card? Share your story a comment!

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