Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Post cards: A separate hobby or just big trading cards?

I've had post cards on the mind as of late, spurred on by my own finds in the wild, and no doubt influenced by the postings of Doe MG (Hope you are still around!) The Shlabotnik Report and Fuji.

So it begs the question: Are post cards a separate hobby, or are they just large trading cards? And, to an extent, what defines a trading card? I am going to see if putting it in writing in this post helps me determine if I should combine my three collections that end in the term "Cards".

So far I've mostly resisted the urge to start buying post cards. I know they have a very long history, A quick trip to Wikipedia shows me that post cards actually predate trading cards by a few decades- the first being from 1840, where the earliest trading card I am aware of dates to 1868...and there's even some debate about if that was a post card or a trading card. The post cards with pictures, what I am interested in, they came later. I would say the long history is a plus with a negative aspect. (Older = harder to find and most expensive)

And the variety is endless. There is literally a postcard for every topic, from baby animals to naked ladies and everything in between. That, to me, is where the hobby has the most interest, the wide variety of topics. There are some things that never appear on trading cards- but there are post cards of them. Specifically, I'm speaking of architecture and buildings, which is something I have a great interest in but have never really been able to talk about because there's almost no trading cards that show them. Vehicles are also heavily covered, and most of my modest collection is (not surprisingly) automotive themed. Topical variety is the biggest plus of all.

The two have clearly crossed over as well. Post card size has been used for oversize cards in every sport, and Press Pass even once issued a box topper with space for a stamp! (although full 90s glossy coating, so good luck writing on it) The most well-known post card sized set is probably the 1976-77 Topps NBA set. Several sets have issued oversized trading cards and referred to them as Post cards in the packaging even though the backs were full of text- no space for a stamp. Familiarity with the size and proper storage is neutral. Storing the oversize cards has always been a challenge.

The writing aspect of post cards is a bit of a quandary for me. I dislike writing on cards. Post cards are, however, designed for just that. Finding un-marked vintage cards is not really commonplace, from what little I've seen, and there are even people who collect based on where they are sent from and when...being a long time Stamp collector you would think that would appeal to me, but other than dating the issue, it really doesn't... I'm going to count that as a negative, while at the same time saying it's interesting if the writing is to me or a family member, for instance, I have a card sent to my great-grandmother in 1947 in my collection.

And that's another thing. Trading cards, for the most part, are easy to identify and build a set. Post cards, although there are exceptions, are standalone issues that are generally not numbered and almost never dated. That...will drive me nuts. Not knowing the year of something, it makes my OCD go a little wacky. Having an undefined set with no years...not sure I could handle that. I'm also going to say this is a negative.

One of the big negatives has been the lack of printed material on the back. I'm used to the back having stats or text, and post cards generally have a VERY brief writeup. But, now that we're in year 10 of Panini having the exclusive NBA license, a back not having anything to read or look at is pretty much the norm. That hurdle has been overcome.  I no longer consider this a major drawback but now pretty much the norm. Neutral.

There's the cost factor. I can barely hang on with the collections I already maintain. Do I want to expand that even further?

My nature is to compartmentalize things. My OCD is well documented. Until 2016 I didn't even count Panini Stickers as part of my card collection. I didn't really count playing cards until 2018 until I took in a couple of TCG cards via trade. I still count and document multi-sport cards in a different total from the single-sport issues. Can I mentally handle three disparate concepts mixing together? I think so, because that will allow me to bring in the third collection that ends in "Cards" that I mentioned above. Since 1955, NASCAR teams have issued handouts- they started out as traditionally sized post cards, with blank backs and stamp space- and today have grown to come in a variety of sizes and shapes, ranging in size from smaller than a standard post card to so large that I could not fit it on my scanner tray even if my scanner was twice as wide as it is, and feature full color printing and text on both sides. They also come in diecut shapes as well, such as one that is in the shape of a car battery. While the vast majority of my collection is NASCAR, I also have some from drag racing, sprint car racing, and other forms of racing. Furthermore, there are drivers who I have represented in Hero cards (one of the accepted names for them. Some people call them post cards, autograph cards and handouts) who not only are not in my trading card collection- they never got a single trading card! This would allow me to add minor league drivers that never got to NASCAR to my collection, it would allow me to add some Indy drivers...and it would allow me to do something not possible in any other aspect of my sports card collection- it would allow me to say I got cards in my collection at an actual sporting event. I've never attended any basketball or hockey games- but I have attended auto races. As an added bonus- they are all scanned already. And there's a lot of them. When my local diecast dealer was closing his doors in 2010, he cut me a great deal and I added hundreds of them to my collection in a single day. Combined with the collection I had previously, I have about 1000 of them. Unfortunately, I have not added to the Hero Card collection since I believe 2011. With my local dealer closed, and my friend who used to go to the races at Pocono not going anymore (he always brought me back copies), and not having a show car in the Hudson Valley since 2010, they have dried up here. Some teams do give them out for free if you ask, I might have to go that route.

If I integrated them into my collection, it would give me a huge boost to my collection totals, and different people, without having to spend a single cent or do any scanning...they are all scanned already (although I am not sure the scans are any good- I wasn't always as thorough as I am now, I used to accept "good enough"). I might even be able to pull full lists from Excel- I had a Excel chart of them but I don't know if I will be able to find it now as it may have died with my 2nd laptop in 2012. I don't know if it shows, but the more I'm thinking about it, the more enthusiastic I'm getting here. Big plus!

One final thought before I post some "trading card" collection already includes:
  • stickers
  • tattoos
  • "coins" (really medals, coins are issued by governments)
  • poker chips
  • iron-on patches
  • cloth
  • pieces of used, dirty clothing
  • pieces of seats, car parts, hockey sticks, balls, and more
  • plastic
  • metal 
  • gum
  • posters
and probably some other stuff I can't think of at the moment. 

Is it really such a stretch to welcome in other forms of cards? Is the fact that they are bigger and may have some writing on them enough to keep them separate? 

What do YOU think?

Now, onto the cards. As you may recall, a few weeks ago my brother and I went to the New York Aquarium at Coney Island. While there were no trading cards in sight, there was a store selling post cards. I brought home three.

We are trying to get souvenirs from each Adventure my brother takes me on, and since this is the closest thing to a trading card I could find, it did the trick. The top card is the Cyclone, which dates to 1927- and is the first thing I saw when we turned the corner before pulling into the Aquarium lot, which is looking right up at the red letters visible on the middle loop. It didn't exist yet when this photo was taken. (Circa 1955)

The second card is of Surf Avenue circa 1920, although to be honest I mostly chose this one due to the cars on the street.

The third image is just a general Coney Island scene. I'm not sure if it's reproduced vintage art or new art made to look vintage.  All three cards are exclusively made for the Brooklyn Beach Shop, which is right on the boardwalk. The cards were a no thinking needed purchase at 99 cents each, as well.

My mom recently renewed my Scale Auto Magazine subscription (as a Christmas present) after I had let it lapse earlier in 2018- something I'm kicking myself for because it's the first time I've missed any issues since I began reading the publication in 2000. For those of you who think I'm organized- I'm not. I didn't realize it had lapsed until I realized one had not shown up in several months! As part of the confirmation of subscription, they sent along this card of a Dodge Challenger, although the builder was not identified.

A few weeks ago, my brother and I hit an antique store, and I don't know if I've mentioned it before- but I'm a big fan of them. I have NEVER failed to bring home something related to models, cards or cars, and this was no exception. (They did have some chewed up -literally- WWI era non-sports cards but were asking too much money for them so I didn't bite...pun intended)
What they did have was a section of Automotive cards and of course I had to look at them- my eyes spotted this bright red Plymouth from an aisle away, but I was prepared to just look....

Until the next card up was...
...this 1969 Chevrolet trucks card, which included the El Camino! They don't call me El Camino Billy for nothing- I knew then and there I would be getting these two cards. They had a third car card, but it was in bad shape. Severe tape damage, possibly a was from 1955, so for the right price I would have overlooked that. They wanted $5 bucks for it, so I passed on it.

I also found a Newburgh parking token, which fits into both my automobilia and numismatic collections, and a book about cars.

So, in 2019 I've already added 6 post cards. That's more than I added in 2018 for the entire year (I don't [yet] keep records on the collection so I don't know exactly, but I think the total for the year is 1) I am definitely a post card collector, and have been for years, albeit low-level. The question is, is it time to integrate my post cards and hero cards with trading cards, and have one big card collection? Or do I continue to keep them separate, three unique, distinct collections?

Whatever choice I make, there is one post card I didn't buy and have regretted ever since. On ebay a few years back, there was an early 20th century post card of the Chrystenah, a cruise ship on the Hudson River that sailed back in the day. The card was water damaged and had some minor paper loss around the edges, but they wanted $20 for it. I didn't go for it, but I've been regretting it since- I've not found a copy for sale again. I want that ship because it was captained by a family member (not by blood, but I still consider him family) If you click on the name of the ship, there is a scan of  an undamaged copy of that very card on Wikipedia.

I will now end the post with some interesting post cards that I have had in my collection for quite some time.
 I bought this on Cape Cod in 2003, my first visit to the ocean
 I have no idea where I got this post card of cows.
 My three favorite ships on my favorite lake.
 The Thruway Rest stop actually sells Thruway post cards. I have been on every mile of the Thruway, it runs from the Pennsylvania line by Niagara Falls to NYC.
 I saw these two replicas- that's the Nina and Pinta- in 2017 when they came to Newburgh, and got three post cards. (every design they had)
This is a classic. You can find these in every tourist trap shop in Lake George, and I love that fact. This design has been in production probably longer than I've been alive, and this copy could have been bought in the 1980s or 1990s- I have more than one. I could drive up there right now and get more if I chose to.

Here's some examples of the NASCAR and other racing Hero Cards I discussed.
 1973 Vic Parsons. A driver who has no traditional trading cards produced
 Here's the one shaped like a battery Note it's too large to fit fully on the scanner.
 I got this one at a show car appearance in South Glens Falls, NY in 1998.
 Another driver who does not have any traditional cards.
 My local team!
Another big plus for the Hero Cards is that they are NOT censored like traditional trading cards are. The Budweiser, Crown Royal, Jack Daniels cars, the tobacco cars....they were shown as they really were, not some made up crap.

Now, if I do decide to integrate the collections, how much work would this entail for me? To be honest, not much. I'd have to move two albums on my original Fotki- the Post Card Collection album would be moved from Other Hobbies to Non-Sports, and the Hero Card Album would be moved from NASCAR by Me to the NASCAR section of the trading card folder. I'd have to check each scan to make sure they are up to my current standards- and then I'd make a copy of each of the relevant images and sort them into the folders on my remote hard drive for posting into the Cardboard History Gallery. It would probably take me about 2 days to fully integrate them into my card collection. Oh, I would also have to adjust my totals in my Excel collection charts. That might add a third day. Maybe less time if the scans are good and not needing to be fixed.

Not hard stuff to do, if I choose to do it...and it leaves me only one more item with cards in the name to reconcile as part of their own collection, or part of my overall Cards collection, and that is the GI Joe file cards...but I will save the talk of them for another day.


  1. I say yes they are cards. I inherited my grandfathers postcard collection. Has some really great pieces. But I’ve also accumulated around 800 Sports related mostly baseball postcards. Include them

    1. I had no idea they made that many Baseball post cards, though it shouldn't surprise me! I think I've seen a few of yours on Twitter.

  2. I keep my baseball postcards with my other cards, I just store them in the oversized cards section. So, yeah, cards.

    I still can't get myself to include stickers or many of those other things you listed as part of your "trading card collection." I always separate them out and often just stash them in a box.

    1. All of those things actually came as inserts in traditional cards, believe it or not.

  3. I never talk about it, mostly because nobody really cares to hear about it, but I collect postcards too. So if were voting here, I say go for it!

    1. I think you would be surprised how interested people actually are!

  4. As strange as it seems, my answer is "it depends".

    If I knew the year of the postcard, and if it belonged to a team set or something like that, I would count it. I think I would count the racing hero cards.

    I've got a couple of postcards of Cleveland Stadium that I put with my card collection, but I don't count them as part of my Browns card collection.

    I buy a lot of Browns stuff, and any Browns related postcard would fit in with the Browns stuff that I buy so I would still want them but I keep my card collection by year so I would need to know the year of the postcard release.

    1. It's funny, but I think you actually precipitated this line of thought. When you sent me those Suns postcards a few years ago, they went right into my NBA collection. In fact, they have been in the Suns album on the Cardboard History Gallery since I uploaded the team!

  5. They really are CARDS, so seems like they should be included.

    1. That's the way I'm leaning...and I had pretty much decided by the end of typing the post that it was the direction I wanted to go.

  6. To me postcards are distinct from cards, but there are some items such as team issue player postcards which are both. Then again, I'm not much of a non-sport collector, so I can see how your perspective would be different.

    And begging the question isn't the same as raising the question!

    1. Non-Sports are a huge part of my collection. I should really talk about them more on here but I just have less access to them.

  7. Great post! My post cards and trading cards are in two separate collections. The one exception are the 1997-98 Donruss Priority Post cards. They contain photos of hockey players, so they're oversize hockey cards to me. The same would apply if I acquired any other sports related post cards.

    1. It was actually your recent post that finally got me to compose this post, although I had been thinking about it for a while before then!

    2. It's pay back. :) You've been the inspiration for at least one or two posts on my blog.

  8. I have a good amount of sumo wrestling post cards in my collection. I totally consider them cards and part of my overall card collection.

    1. I think I may have seen some on your blog...but I have so little knowledge of Sumo wrestling that I'm not sure it "registered" in my head!

    2. Postcards were meant to be collected just like trading cards.