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Cox: Value of ‘penny postcards’ can be big bucks

This postcard was sent by a visitor to the St. Louis World's Fair of 1904.

This postcard was sent by a visitor to the St. Louis World's Fair of 1904.

Postcards are among America’s favorite collectibles. Since this is National Postcard Week, it seems a perfect time to discuss their collectibility and salute one of the area’s best clubs for enthusiasts, the Tucson Post Card Exchange.

According to Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles by Ralph and Terry Kovel, the first legally permitted postcards originated in Austria in 1869. The first “penny” postcards were mailed in the United States in 1872. Most of the picture postcards are from the early years of the last century.

The price of postage fluctuated, so it is often possible to determine when a card was mailed both by the postal mark and the amount of the stamp. For example, the rates are 1872 (1 cent), 1917 (2 cents), 1919 (1 cent), 1925 (2 cents), 1928 (1 cent), 1952 (2 cents), 1958 (3 cents), 1963 (4 cents), 1968 (5 cents), 1971 (6 cents), 1973 (8 cents), 1975 (7 cents), 1976 (9 cents), 1978 (10 cents), March 1981 (12 cents), November 1981 (13 cents), 1985 (14 cents), 1988 (15 cents), 1991 (19 cents), 1995 (20 cents), 2001 (21 cents), 2002 (23 cents), 2006 (24 cents), and 2007 (26 cents).

Postcards can vary in price depending on rarity, condition and desirability. A quick check of eBay revealed dozens of interesting cards being offered for sale including a Halloween card depicting a black cat from the 1920s, $35; a real photo image of Phoenix from 1910, $45; a Santa in blue robes promoting a laundry soap, circa 1915, $65; a view of the Titanic, $275; and a series featuring seven movie stars from the 1930s (Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, Gary Cooper, Mae West and George Brent), $65 for the set.

The value of postcards has continued to increase, especially for older, more desirable cards. In special demand are holiday cards, designs by important illustrators such as Hank Feilig and Harrison Cady, cards relating to politics and labor, and images of small town America.

One of the premier clubs is the Tucson Postcard Exchange Club. Members meet the first Sunday of each month at 2:30 p.m. at the Pima County Medical Society Building, 5199 E. Farness. The meetings are open to the public. Membership dues are $15 per year.

For additional information, contact club president Jack Mount at jdmount@cox.net

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