Grading and pricing collectible postcards

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Postcard pricing is affected by demand, condition, and rarity. Demand is probably the most important factor.

The grading of postcards is necessarily subjective. The following are commonly used grades used to describe the condition of postcards. Watch out for descriptions like "average" or "good considering its age" or "very good except for a small tear (or stain)." These terms usually mean the card is fair or worse, and the seller does not understand the importance of condition. Another term that is misused, especially in internet auctions, is "fine." This could mean anything from fair to excellent.

Mint(M): A perfect card just as it comes from the printing press. No marks, bends, or creases. No writing or postmarks. A clean and fresh card with sharp corners. Older postcards are rarely seen in this condition.

Excellent (EX): Card has no obvious defects. No bends or creases. Corners can have slight bumps, but are not blunt or rounded. Card looks clean and fresh, with no soil or marks on the picture side. May be postally used or unused. This is usually considered as the baseline for pricing.

Very Good (VG): Card has minor defects that do not detract from its overall appearance. Corners may be slightly blunt. May have almost undetectable crease or bend. May be postally used or unused. Most collectible cards are in this condition. Cards in "very good" condition should be priced about 20-25% less than cards in excellent condition.

Good (G): Damage is more noticeable. Corners may be more rounded. Card may have minor bends or creases. Neat writing on the picture side of undivided back postcards or a small handwritten signature on the picture side may be acceptable to some collectors. Cards in this condition should be priced 40-50% less than cards in excellent condition.

Fair (F): Excess soil, stains, creases, writing, or cancellation marks that detract from appearance. Cards in this condition are not considered collectible unless they are rare. Collectors may buy cards in this condition if the price is low enough. May also be bought by someone who is just interested in the image.


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