I used to be really heavy into collecting vintage and antique postcards, so much that I had a whole Etsy shop dedicated to them! (Unfortunately, I don’t really have the time to dedicate to it, plus I’m in a “there’s too much stuff in my house” phase, so my collection is now mostly limited to North Carolina and Louisiana postcards.) When I’d list a postcard for sale, I’d do a little research into the postcard printer, when the card was produced, and what location was depicted on the card. So I’ve amassed quite the knowledge on vintage postcards. I’d like to share some sources where you can find these treasures.
The major era of postcard production is between 1900 and 1970, with the most popular among collectors and those who enjoy vintage graphic design being the linen postcards from 1930 to the 1960s. These postcards, as you see in the gallery above, are the brightly colored ones printed on textured paper. The large letter “greetings from” postcards like the Charlotte one are the favorites! If you want to learn more than you ever thought about postcards, I highly recommend visiting Alan Petrulis’s Metropostcard.com.
So where can you find these? Well, they’re everywhere–just check your local antique store like Sleepy Poet Antique Mall here in Charlotte or The Depot at Gibson Mill in Concord. And there’s thousands upon thousands online at eBay or Etsy. But libraries and archives also make digital copies available. The two major mid-century postcard printers were Curt Teich and Tichnor Brothers, and both have archival collections available.
- The Curt Teich postcard archives are held by the Newberry Library in Chicago, and they’ve made scans available on the Internet Archive in their Newberry Postcards collection as well as through the University of Illinois (though not all are scanned, but their holdings may be searched).
- The Boston Public Library holds the archives of Tichnor Brothers Inc. postcard publishers. They made scans of 25,000 postcards available through Digital Commonwealth, Massachusetts’ digital library consortium.