The absolute majority of postcard collectors worldwide collects topographic subjects. Views from the place or region they live now or have lived, places their parents or ancestors came from or because of any other personal relationship.

The second largest group are those who have concentrated on one or more subjects. From artists to zoo and others you hardly thought of before. Not to forget the very specialised collectors and, the ‘investors’ who accumulate particular quality cards hoping to make money with in the (near) future.


Now the probability that you ever find each and every card fitting in your collection is pretty low. Even with an unlimited budget and time. That Is probably also part of the fascination of collecting (old) postcards. You never know what you might find next.

The more cards you hold, the more difficult it becomes to add “new” cards to your collection. This leads to sort of frustration of course, some start to collect a second topic, others close their collection and quit. Ever increasing prices might be another reason.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some potential postcard collecting subjects. Not only to show alternatives for those looking for another field to collect, but also to understand the unbelievable variety of (old) cards around. Topo cards are naturally not part of this section.

Many old post cards qualify for various collecting categories indeed. The Stella Polare was an Italian research vessel that started with a mixed Italian / Norwegian crew from Kristiania in direction North Pole on June 12, 1899. Part of the crew managed to cross the 86th degree of latitude on April 25, 1900; other sources say this took place on April 23. The card shows the ship leaving Spezia. No publisher listed only the printer ‘E. Voghera’, Rome. The card was mailed from Spezia to an address in Alsace under Printed Matter postage rate in January (?) 1901 Probably a postcard exchange. This card could be of interest to collectors of: Italian ships - research vessels - North Pole expeditions - art nouveau designs - ?



Overprints – this is indeed something for a collector looking for a real challenge. You need a good eye for details and plenty of time to look through numerous postcard boxes and piles to built up sort of ‘collection’. Cards can be found worldwide, not limited to a specific country or period.


Windmills – are found often illustrated on postcards of all times. Either the main topic of the card or part of the background, on topo cards as well as subject/greetings cards. Inexpensive collecting subject although you might soon need extra space to store your finds.


Handpainted – this covers a wide field, from amateurish pencilled sketch to quality water colour / oil paintings in postcard size. Some are really done by hand other were arranged using stencils and other helpful aids. There is still a lot to discover and many are unique.

Oshawa (Canada), Factories of General Motors of Canada Ltd. Although not in good shape anymore, the (cheap) card  pretty aged with dirt (?) spots, an interesting piece. Size 140 x 82 mm, printed in brown ink, image halftone. Promotion imprint on address side. See the General Motors Exhibit at the British Empire Exhibition 1924. Canadian Building, booths: 51, 52, 53 and 67. Qualifies for different collecting categories.


Greetings from Saxony - where the cute girls grow. This is a ‘Large Letter’ type card. Although this particular design was named ‘Microscope-Card’ by the publisher Carl H. Odemar from Magdeburg (the design protected under no. 1276). Inside the letters many small view of women, some ‘risky’ dressed found. You need indeed a magnifying glass to enjoy. Capital Letter cards were popular around the turn of the century. This is a bromide photo card, p/u in March 1903.

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