Glossary of Postcard Collecting Terms

• Postcard Collecting

• Postcard Types

• Postcard Terms

• Postcard Topics

• Grading & Pricing Postcards

• Articles

• Resources (Links)


Advertising postcard. A postcard that advertises a product, service, or event.

Advertising trade card. A card that advertises something but is not a postcard.

Antique postcard. Usually refers to a postcard published before 1920.

Artist-signed. The artist’s signature appears on the postcard illustration.

Chrome. A printed glossy-surface postcard that was based on a color photo.

Comic. A humorous postcard.

Continental size. Size is approximately 4 X 6 inches.

Deltiology. The hobby of postcard collecting.

Divided back. Card back is divided into a message space on the left and an address space on the right, allowed in the U.S. since 1907.

Embossed. The card design is printed so it is raised above the surface.

Exaggeration. Part of the image is exaggerated by scaling it much larger than the rest of the image.

Exposition. Usually an official World’s Fair, but there are also smaller regional fairs called expositions.

Folder. Reproductions of postcard views (about 12 to 18) printed on both sides of a long strip of paper that folds up into an attadhed wrapper.

Golden Age. Period during early 1900s before World War I when postcard collecting was very popular

Greetings. Greeting cards printed as postcards for birthdays, holidays, friendship, etc.

Heavily embossed. Degree of embossing is greater than average and colors appear to be airbrushed rather than printed realistically. Sometimes has a flat paper backing.

Hold-to light. Usually means multilayerd postcards with parts of the top layer cut out. When the card is held to the light, the cut-out areas (such as a windows, lights, sun, or moon) appear illuminated. Another type has oiled sections that transmit the light.

Installment set. A set of individual postcards that form a larger picture when placed side by side.

Large letter. Outlines of large-lettered place names are filled with images.

Linen. Postcards printed on paper with a linen-textured surface.

Linen era. Early 1930s to early 1950s.

Lot. Multiple postcards offered for sale as a group.

Mail art. Art exchanged through the mail—includes postcards, faux postage, etc.

Maximum card. A postage stamp with an appropriate cancellation is placed on the picture side of a postcard having a similar image (maximum concurrence of postcard, stamp, and postmark).

Modern era. Mid 1970s or later, usually continental size.

Multiview. A card with multiple pictures.

Name band. Card with multiple picture areas separated by a solid color band printed with a location name.

Novelty. Postcard made of unusual materials or having an unusual shape.

Old postcard. Can mean any card that is not new, but more often means cards from the 1920s or earlier.

Oversized. Length of the card is greater than 6 inches.

Pioneer. Card produced before the Private Mailing Card Act of 1898.

Postal card. A card with preprinted postage supplied by the U.S. Postal Service.

Private Mailing Card. The term "Private Mailing Card" was printed on the address side of privately produced postal cards between 1898 and 1901.

Rack cards. Modern advertising postcards distributed free on racks.

Real photo. A photographic image printed on photographic paper with a postcard back. Images printed on cardstock by a printing press are not real photos.

Series. A group of cards published on a particular subject and having a similar design. Often, but not always, has the word series on the back.

Stamp box. A printed rectangular box in the upper right corner of the postcard back that indicates where the postage stamp should be placed.

Standard size. Postcard measuring 3˝ X 5˝ inches.

Tinsel. Substance similar to glitter that was used to decorate postcards.

Topical. A card that fits into a specific subject category.

Topographical. Same as a view card.

Undivided back. Postcard published before 1907 when only the address was allowed on the back of the card.

View cards. Cards based on realistic images of specific locations.

Vintage. Usually refers to cards from the the 1930s through the 1960s, but could mean any card at least twenty-five years old.


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