I ended up winning the lot of “450-500 Sleeved Mixed World & Theme Postcards.” Participating was simple and exciting; closing the deal with Fusco was a breeze, too. I paid for my lot ($45 plus shipping, in case you were wondering) and they shipped it to me. The lot was soundly packaged and arrived within a couple of days of payment. It couldn’t have been any easier, and I couldn’t have been happier. (Unless I had won the second lot, too, of course.)
Soon after, I was browsing eBay listings and found another lot that I couldn’t help but bid on. This time, it was “Huge US, Holiday & Topical Antique Postcard Lot 600+ Pieces.” I thought it would round out my newly acquired mixed world and theme postcard collection, giving me many topics to explore and write about. (That the lot was located in my home state of Wisconsin, and hence wouldn’t take long to deliver, was an added bonus.) I set my limit and was outbid in short order. I then set another maximum and bid and was outbid again. Then I set another limit (clearly, I don’t know my limits) and bid yet again. The fourth time I set my maximum bid, it was finally enough. I won the lot. At just over $76 for more than 600 postcards, I figured it was a lot of entertainment and education for less than 15 cents per postcard. I paid the seller (via PayPal, of course) and received my purchase in short order.
Though the postcards were securely packed in a USPS Priority Mail box, I was not thrilled about the cards being tightly packaged in a bread bag, effectively rounding, creasing and chipping many of the corners. But overall it balances out to a lot of “edutainment” for a relatively small investment.
After winning just two auction lots, paying roughly $125 for more than 1,000 postcards, I’m excited on the prospect of diving in and sharing what I find.
I don’t expect to find any cards that are worth more than $5 apiece. Generally speaking, postcards in large box lots – like any collectible in large lots – tend to be well-handled. By holding onto realistic expectations, I keep myself from being disappointed and may have some pleasant surprises. To quote Allentown, Pa., bottle digger Rick Weiner: “I’m not in it for the money; I’m in it for the history.”
If you’re looking to start a postcard collection the same way I did, through box lots, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $200, depending on the description. (The better the description, the higher the bids.) However, there have been cases where lots slip through for a fraction of their auction estimates.
Because of my new interest in collecting postcards, I decided to launch a new column called “Postcard Ponderings.” I don’t aspire to replace Barbara Andrews, a dear friend who wrote about postcards for many years in Antique Trader – she is irreplaceable. Instead, my goal is to spark discussions of the values of postcard collecting – and not just in a monetary sense.
Postcards reflect art, culture, history, geography, humor, technology – the subjects are limitless. By exploring the postcard topics and their historical context, the postage, postmarks and messages, as well as home display ideas, an interesting journey lies ahead. I hope you’ll join me in the exploration by following my new column through Auction Central News.
Karen Knapstein is Print Editor for Antique Trader. A lifelong collector and student of antiques, she lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Joe, and daughter, Faye. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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