Collecting Vintage Real Photo Postcards

ChristmasReal photo postcards are photographs which have been developed and printed on postcard stock.  A caption was often written on the negative (which was often glass).    Real photo postcards have been produced since the early 1900's.   Kodak sold a postcard camera and you could buy a roll of film, take your pictures, and have them developed on special postcard paper.  These cameras captured many family photos, events, and disasters.  Many of these postcards are rare, one of a kind items and historical documents.

Collectors should look at real photo postcards carefully.  Details such the toy a child is holding, a car, or a building in the background can make these cards particularly interesting and valuable to certain collectors.

Some real photo postcards were mass produced by photographers.  The caption on these mass produced cards is usually much neater than on one of a kind photo postcards. 


Tips for identifying real photo postcards:

  • Real photo postcards are printed on photographic paper.  There is often an indication of the type of paper on the back of the card.  See Playle's guide to real photo postcard stamp box markings to help identify postcard ages.

  • The caption on real photo postcards is often hand written and white in color.  These captions were marked or scratched into the negative.

  • Modern postcard printing processes recreate photos using dots or pixels, like in a magazine or newspaper photo.  Actual developed photographs do not have dots.  Look at the postcard image with a magnifying glass - there should be no dots visible in a real photographs.