The term ‘hand-painted’ should not be mistaken with ‘hand-coloured’. The latter describes a regular printed item being coloured by hand with or without the use of stencils, airbrush etc. But also when it reads “hand-painted” it is often not unique. Both terms make you believe you have something individual, superior quality to industrial production in hand (and so costs extra).

‘Authentic’ hand-painted cards were often done on standard postcards (some show official postal form imprint like “C 154” in Germany), or just a plain piece of (better/special) card board. Some time after the turn of the century it must had been quite popular, as the shops selling inks and brushes had special postcards one side blank on offer.

True hand-painted cards are individual pieces. There could be (slightly) different versions of  same view around. The best examples I have seen come from regular correspondence (= are dated).

handpainted_bullfighting_Barcelona_1903 handpainted_view_baltic_sea_coast

These 3 cards above were all addressed to (Miss) Neumann living at Eberswalde near Berlin in 1903. Above right, dating from early January, thanking for a fine Russian Christmas (?). On the left a nicely done bull fighting sketch, sent from Barcelona in late August. And finally a landscape with (half hidden) hut from a small place near Rostock, Baltic Sea, mailed late June 1903. The creator/sender(s) had some talent, probably an art student(s).

Old woman who has collected wood or reed crossing a wintry lakeside area. The card was mailed within Munich in February 1903. Sender had a quite large, sweeping handwriting.

A water colour work on a special postcard that was bought at “Adrian Brugger”, who appeared to had been the best address in Munich for (hobby) artists’ requirements. Appointed to the court of Bavaria. His name is found imprinted on lower left corner of address side.


Hand-painted Easter greetings, signed E. Mueller. Painted on a piece of card and afterwards glued onto a regular standard postcard (C 154 postal form). A rather thick, robust card. Mailed in 1904 from Hessia to a city in Silesia. Several people wrote good wishes and also a poem on the card. Unfortunately I cannot make out if one of them was also the artist.

Sailing boat by moonlight passing a rocky coast. This card belongs to a different category of “hand-painted” cards. The same view produced in small quantities, probably always on order. No publisher mentioned, only the description “Handgemalt” = hand-painted. To ease production stencils were used for parts of the design. I use to call these cards (there are many!) “opaque white cards”. The surface is quite sensitive, not fixed. Most likely a water-colour paint mixture. The card was p/u in 1911.

handpainted_sailing_boat_by moonlight

Spring motif with two birch trees. Rather simple done design, not very accurately. Surely took not long to finish a card like this. There are a number of other views, of same make (“opaque white card”) but better quality. Although the motifs appear looking similar. Almost a type of silhouette design. This card was not p/u, of post 1905 date, bears number 504 together with the initials “M.M.B.”

Of interest to you? German collector Kurt Droege ( is still researching these unusual postcards which were around for a longer period.

Not considered yet are the hundreds of hand-painted designs from Japan and China. These appear to be of interest to a number of collectors according to ppc auction research. – There are of course many other cards that would quality for this category, entirely or partly hand-painted, sprayed (air-brush) etc. In case collectors / visitors show interest, I will gladly add more cards.


Not only kids like to colour drawings, pictures, comic’s and so on. Publishers / traders soon offered suitable articles including postcards. This card with the three cherubs in Donatello-style were printed by monochrome collotype process. Publisher line reads: American Post Card. “Photo-gelatine” series 221. Subject 3376. In caps For Hand Coloring. Mailed from the USA to Germany in 1913. Message in French language.

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