Saturday, May 30, 2009


I just wanted the world to know that I finally got the grass mowed.   I'm sure there are about 2 acres worth of mowing to do, and I started on Tuesday.   It took me till today (Saturday) to get it done.  I gave up Wednesday & Thursday (because of rain), and Friday decided it was do or die time - the grass was getting high even for my standards, and my grass mowing standards are pretty low.   Friday I managed to get two thirds of what was left done, even with having to stop once because it rained for a few minutes.   I finished the rest of it this afternoon - the first day without rain in a long time.

And just so you know, these were not cool, misty little rains - it poured.  Then it stopped.  Then it was EXTREMELY humid.   Then it poured again.    The plants love it.  So do the bugs.  Too bad I'm a human.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Requirements to be an 'exchanger'

This is a post about racism.
We came into a nice little inventory haul the other day, mostly postcards and photographs, but it also included other paper items, lovingly known as ephemera.  Ephemera is typically a paper item that has a specific use and is usually discarded.  A ticket to a sporting event is a good example.
One of these pieces of ephemera was a combination advertisement and application to join a club which exchanged items.  You could even chose the items you wanted to exchange - postcards, coins, stamps and several other things.  It would be a fun way to advance a hobby.   The address for the organization was Nashville, Tennessee, and it looked to be 1940's - 1950's, and someone had filled it out.
There were only two requirements you had to meet before you joined - you had to be serious, and you had to be white.  Actually, being white was listed first.
My first thought was how could they verify either requirement?
My second thought was that the world has changed a bit since then.
And my third thought wandered to my home town, Hindman, Kentucky.
Hindman, Kentucky is the county seat of Knott County.  It is by far the largest town in the county, but it's population has never, at anytime in recorded history (or pre-history for that matter) broke the 1,000 barrier.  It is a tiny place, and it is where I spent the first years of my life.   My parents were both school teachers, but I guess it wasn't working out financially or security wise, so my father (who was in the reserves) went to active duty in the Air Force, and for the next 10 years I found myself living in various places in the USA and Europe.   Although we'd go back for visits, there was a disconnect with me and Hindman.   I lost contact with it.
I went to college in Kentucky - it was the only place I considered home at the time.  As an 18 year old freshman, I met a classmate who was black, who told me he was from Knott County.  I didn't say anything, but I remember being confused because I didnt realize any black people lived in Knott County.   I was born there, grew up there, found myself back there frequently, and in all my life I had never seen a black person in Knott County.  
So, my curiosity aroused, I looked around and came to my own conclusions.
First - there were black people living in Knott County.  I don't know how many.
Second - it was obvious that the social arrangements that existed between the black and white citizens of Knott County were solidified long before I was born.  There was no need for any "whites only" signs or any other outward manifestations of Jim Crow laws in Hindman, because black people did not go there.   As a county seat, Hindman was the location of many local government services.  Property deeds, car registrations, things like that.  I often wondered, if black people never went to Hindman, how did they receive those services.  I still don't know. Perhaps they didn't receive those services.
Third - I realized I had lived my whole life up to that point with a very false perception.
So, the society I grew up in was not quite as benign as I thought it was...a society that was so thoroughly segregated, I didn't even realize it.  If you wanted someone to join some organization in Hindman, Kentucky in the 1950s, for example, there would be no need to include being "white" as a requirement.  I'm sure it was understood - by everybody.
I can't remember that classmate's name, and he has no idea how much of a shock and a revelation he was to me.  Because of him I noticed things I never noticed before.
But I didn't go around trying to change society.  I, who had spent my formative years bouncing around the USA and Europe, joined the Army after college and continued to bounce around the USA and Europe.
This little piece of ephemera brought back some thoughts.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Our eBay Business - Feedback

Ratz!  I guess I have one more eBay post in me, I was hoping I was done with it for awhile.

eBay's feedback system is sort of like the community monitoring itself.   When ever someone buys or sells an item, they have an opportunity to rate the seller or buyer thru feedback.   The feedback percentage (100% is perfect) gives an idea of the person's online reputation.  

Last year eBay made some sweeping changes in the way feedback is handled.  One of the changes is they allowed feedback from repeat customers to count toward the total, as long as it was left at least a week apart.  Before that change your feedback for a user-id was only counted once, no matter how many times you bought from a seller, or a buyer bought from you.  

Another of the changes was that sellers could only leave positive feedback for buyers.   Apparently this was so buyers would have a "more positive experience", and would feel freer to give sellers poorer ratings without fear of retaliatory feedback.   Apparently the folks at eBay never heard of the concept of an "insane buyer".    Most buyers are rational beings, but I've ran into 3 or 4 that I can think of over the ages, who were a little less than rational - it happens.   

I've had some harsh criticism hurled at me, pretty much out of the blue, by people who don't know a thing about me.   I have a feeling these people struggle with life in general, and I never respond to it.   They end up getting themselves blocked, and that's that.

eBay provides no way to filter feedback - so if someone has some negatives, it's very hard to find out exactly what it was about.  You have to page thru and manually search it out, and usually it just isnt worth the effort.   Sometimes though, you'll find that the buyer who left the feedback really had no basis.  Other times you find out much more about the seller than the seller ever intended.  People are allowed to respond to their feedback, and the response a seller leaves to a negative speaks volumes about the seller.   

We have yet to receive a negative feedback.  Eventually it will happen, and I'm not too worried about it.  We do the best we can.

We have received 1 neutral feedback.  This involved sales tax, believe it or not.  We operate as a business, with a license and everything (just like grown-ups), and we are required to collect sales tax from anyone with a  North Carolina address who buys anything from us.  Every quarter we dutifully send it along to the state.   A buyer took some issue with this or thought we weren't doing it correctly.  He left us neutral feedback, saying he'd sent several emails and we never responded.  I checked our email inbox (and junk box, just in case), and there were no emails from him.  So I responded that we had never been contacted about this, blocked him, and went on with life.

eBay also provides a means for 'detailed feedback', where a buyer can rate a seller's description, communication, shipping time, and shipping & handling charge.  As a buyer, I like it, as a seller, I'm ambivalent.  The biggest issue is that it is all subjective.  Different people have different standards, so two buyers will very possibly rate the same results differently.  However, all in all, it is probably a good thing.  If the descriptions are accurate, and you ship the item quickly, you should have no problem in the long run with the detailed feedback.

Some people dislike the current feedback system very much.  I'm somewhere in the middle.  

Saturday, May 23, 2009

How Children in North Carolina Argue

Child 1:  Is too so!!

Child 2:  Aint not neither!!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Our eBay Business - philosphies (or....just some thoughts)

Some scattered thoughts about our eBay experience.  If one paragraph bores you, please skip to the next, cause these are not in any particular order.

eBay functions on trust.   Customers send us money, and trust us to send them the item they purchased, quickly and safely.  As sellers, we trust that when someone bids on an item or wins an item, they intend to pay.   The vast majority of the time, everything works fine.  

If you're the type who assumes the world is out to cheat you, you'll struggle with eBay or online selling in general.

It's better to keep listings simple & to the point.  I put a lot of "policy" type stuff on the "About Me" page.   I've seen some sellers all but threaten their buyers in their listings, and I don't understand that at all.  

Pictures are important - make sure they are good.  Include as many as needed, better 1 too many than 1 too few.  Make sure your background is plain, and include as little of it as possible.  I take two pictures of each postcard we list - front & back.  My background is a solid colored blue cloth.  The pictures include the corners & edges, which means it also includes a slice of the background - but I try to minimize it.    For the various kinds photographic images we list, I'll take the same pictures as I do with postcards, but I also crop it to show details.   A good picture is as much, if not more, of a selling tool than your written description.  A bad picture can cost a sell, especially if the person who might be buying is undecided.

When I receive money for an item, in my mind that item now belongs to the person who sent the money.  It's my responsibility to ship it as quickly and safely as possible.  As a result, we gather up the dog and head to the post office every day.

Communication helps tremendously.   This is my level of communication:  when an items sells, I'll send an invoice (unless the buyer pays very quickly).  The invoice has the full price and other payment information on it.  When I receive payment, I send an email acknowledging that I received it, and letting them know when I will send it, and as a verification, the address where it's going. Once I ship it, I send another email letting them know it's on the way.   I don't know if that is overkill or not, but I like people to feel warm and fuzzy.  Then after I ship it, I go ahead and leave feedback.

eBay's feedback system is a whole other post.

Included in every shipment is a paper copy of the invoice.  This invoice includes the store logo, and a simple web address that takes people directly to the store.  That web address is

Don't click it unless you want to go there.

I've learned the correct way to package things up over the years.  I think.  

This eBay stuff takes a lot more time than you'd imagine.  It's not a full time job, but still, we spend hours on it every day, and a lot of it is tedious.     

It is very hard to get the pictures exactly right.  I have photo editing software, and at the very least I use it to crop out background and straighten the picture.   However, I've learned that things look different on different monitors sometimes, no matter what you do.   Sometimes the lighting can change the appearance of the item slightly, and nothing I know how to do can get it exactly right.  (especially with the chrome postcards).  So......I do the best I can.   If I think it's a big enough issue, I either won't post it, or I'll mention it in the listing.  

It's a rush when something sells.   

If you have a curiosity about things, that helps.  Postcards cause us to look up a lot of things, to seek out a bit more information about it's subject.   I now know more about Winona Lake, Indiana than I ever thought I would.  I've never been there, and have no plans to go, but I know it's history and what it has been famous for down through the years.  And the only reason I looked it up was because we listed a series of cards from 1908, sent by a person in Plymouth, Ohio, to a person who was spending the summer (or at least a long time) at Winona Lake, Indiana.

Before you list an item, make your peace with the world.

It is better to sell an item for a little less, than to not sell it for a little more. 

On the other hand, you'll never get what you don't ask for.  

An item will never sell if you don't list it.

I've found that eBay de-values certain things.  People buy items by the box full at estate auctions, and turn around and re-sell them for a quick profit.  They have no emotional attachment to them, they just want to get their money back and hopefully a bit more.  I know this for a fact, because I've been a part of it.   Its like a thief steals a $10,000 necklace, then pawns it for $50. To the thief,  it's $50 profit.   Well eBay sellers are not thieves, as a rule, but it's a similar emotion.  You may end up with an item worth $200, but if you only paid $5.00 for it, you'd gladly take $40 for it now, instead of trying to wait for the $200 that may never come.  

If you stay with eBay long enough, you'll have moments where you get a lot of money for an item you didn't pay much for.  

If you stay with eBay long enough, you'll sell an item to someone who will turn around and re-sell it for MUCH more than what you sold it for.  Most of the time you'll never know.  But it happens. 

The staff at our eBay store has experienced both situations. 

If you buy an item for $200 & sell it for $225, you make more money than if you buy an item for 10 cents and sell it for $10.   The point is, sometimes you do better if you risk a bit of money.

Packaging material is expensive.  Recycle & reuse any type of boxes or packaging material you receive.  

Tape doesn't weigh much.

I think a logo for your store helps.  Also, spend the few bucks for a simple domain name that takes people directly to your store, and figure out some way to let people know about it.

Oh, you should have an eBay store if you're gonna sell stuff on eBay.  Not required, and it does cost a bit, but its worth it.

eBay is not cheap.

These are are the thoughts I can think of right now.   & this will be my last eBay post for awhile, maybe.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Our eBay Business - snapshots (or accidental art)

A month or two ago Patti Anne recorded a documentary on the ol' DVR called "Other Peoples Pictures".  It was about snapshots & snapshot collecting, and the people who collect them.  I was hooked.   I have always liked pictures, and I had heard rumors in the past of the strange offbeat types who collect snaps, but I failed to grasp the reasons & possibilities.   Which is strange, given my tendencies.   I think people just have a tendency to keep on keepin' on, and sometimes fail to comprehend the possibilities outside their routines.   Perhaps that's why it took me so long.

The documentary was an eye opening experience.  Once again it brought home to me that people collect things for the oddest reasons.  Well, maybe not so odd.  When you understand, it's not odd at all.

Snapshots are a gateway to art.  Plain and simple.  The people who collect snaps are looking for art.  99.9999 % of this snapshot art is unintentional, created by people with instamatic cameras of one form or another, who for the most part have no idea how to handle a camera, who are not in the least artistic, who break all the rules of photography because they don't have a clue what they are.   They are about as far away from Ansel Adams as anything could be.

It's ironic then, that the people who collect these things are frequently very artistic, and see art in things that most of us would see as a mistake.   The photographer's shadow in the foreground? It's not a mistake, it's art.  A hand in front of the subjects face?  Again, it's art.  The subjects head cut off?  You guessed it - art.  Part of the picture cut out by a jilted girlfriend?  More art.  

In the picture I used to adorn this little post, the photographer's shadow is in the foreground. It's possible that it is the shadow a woman with a 1940's or 1950's style hat.  But look a little closer, and it could be a robot from an alien world sent to earth to capture the little baby and take it back to the mothership.  You just don't know.

You can argue about the artistic merit of such things, but here's one thing I think we can all agree on.  Art should make you think.   I've seen lots of snaps that make me think, and I'm sure the photographer was just trying to take a picture without doing too much work.   

Snapshots are great.  I love them.  They are by far my favorite of everything.  But I'm still not sure of the demand.  So far of all the photographic media we sell, the various types of postcards, cabinet photos & CDV's,  Snaps have been the least successful.   Maybe that will change in time.   

Talk to me in a decade or so.  

Monday, May 18, 2009

Our eBay Business - CDV photograhs

I got a lot of the technical information about CDV's from a site called

Carte de Viste (CDV) photographs are small, about 2 1/2 X 4 inches, first developed in France in 1854, and introduced to the United States in 1859.   They were albumen prints developed on thin paper, and mounted on heavier cut cardstock.   During the US civil war period and afterwards, they were extremely popular, and for the first time allowed the masses to send their "likeness" through the mail.  The cards were produced, sold, traded and collected by the millions in Europe & North America.   Frequently photographer information would appear on the back, or just below the picture.

They were contemporary with the larger "Cabinet Cards" but began earlier & ended earlier.   If you have a CDV, there is a good chance it's 1880's or earlier.  

I like CDV's.  Like the cabinet cards, they are normally formal studio photographs, and you find yourself looking at a image of a living, breathing, human being who has been dead and gone for a long, long time.    Some of them are very interesting.  In some of them you can even get a feel for the attitude of the subject.  

The woman in my example is young and looks to be healthy and strong.  She was most likely married, because her hair is up - I think that was a 19th century thing.   By the time WWI rolled around, she would be older, if not elderly, almost certainly a grandmother, with a bunch of grandchildren who thought she was born old.  They would only know her as old & most likely frail.  It's possible she could have lived to the 1940 time frame, but most likely not.  

I also like CDV's because they are small, and from a purely logistical point of view, you can keep a bunch of them in a very small space.  They are also easy to mail, with very predictable mailing costs.   I've not had quite as much success with CDVs as I have with Cabinet photos, but they show promise.

As with cabinet cards, I'm still learning the ropes.  I still don't have a handle on exactly what my customers are looking for, but I will.  I'm still learning terminology - until I started writing this post, I didnt know what "albumen" was.  When you set out to sell photographic images, there is a lot to learn.  

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Our eBay Business - Cabinet Photographs

You could write a book about what I don't know about Cabinet Photo's.   I've seen guides that say a Cabinet Photo is always about 4 X 6 inches (sorry, all you metric guys are just gonna have to figure it out), but distinctly remember seeing an expert on "Antiques Roadshow" (I watch it 'cause Patti Anne wants me to, honest) describe a panoramic photograph as a cabinet photo, and it was about 6 FEET long.  So I don't know.  I never trust the word "always", because there are usually exceptions.  

However I do know this.   Cabinet Photos became popular in the late 19th century, I believe late 1860's, which would make them post civil war.  I'm not sure when they stopped calling them "cabinet photo's", or even why they called them that in the first place.  But my assumption is that the vast majority of the pictures are from the late 1860's to about 1900.  Give or take.  

These pictures are mounted on a cardboard backing.  Sometimes just a single matting, sometimes, more elaborate.  Many times the photographer information is printed on the back, or on bottom, below the picture.  I feel lucky if someone wrote a name and a date on the back.   I don't know if it makes the picture more collectible or not, but I like it.

The classic cabinet photo size is 4 X 6 (in reality 4.25 X 6.5 or so), and to me that is the size of the cardboard backing.  Usually the picture is a bit smaller, but not much.  Sometimes it is significantly smaller.  

There are pictures from the same period, mounted the same way, that are much larger.   I'm not sure what to call these - I've been calling them cabinet photos, but I might should reconsider.  

These photographs are almost always formal studio pictures.   Sometimes it's just a head, sometimes its the whole body.  Frequently it's family groupings, and of course, babies.  

At this point in our photographic images foray,  cabinet photos have been our most successful sellers.   Having noted that, however, I must admit that I don't know why.   I don't have a handle on what people are looking for yet - I'm confident I will as I gain experience,  but for now it's a bit of a mystery.  Are people more interested in the image, or the photographer who took the image? Or the location of the photographer's shop?   If they're like postcards, there are almost as many reasons for collecting them as their are images, and I have to learn all these things.

Almost all of these pictures are of people, and I find people very interesting to look at.   19th century people, usually dressed in their finest.  It is just a very minute look into their lives, but I dig every detail out of it that I can.   I look at them and find them fascinating.  That works for me, but I'm not doing this just to entertain myself.  I need to know what my customers are looking for.  I'll get there.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Our eBay Business - Photographic Images (Intro)

A 1930's snapshot.

These posts might be a bit more coherent if I actually thought about what I was going to write before writing it.  As it was, I just asked Patti Anne what she thought I should write about next, so this is it.

It was either late last year or very early this year that we decided to start selling photographic images.   It fits with the kind of stuff I like anyway - visual.  However, this is not a decision to be taken likely, eBay tycoons that we are.   I don't know how much if any overlap there is between people who collect postcards, and people who collect photographic images.   I suspect there is very little overlap.

I'm very familiar with postcards, I'm comfortable with them.  I know how to go about pricing them, rating them, and I'm confident that over time they are profitable to sell.    I've even developed instincts about what is likely to sell and what is not likely to sell, at least as a class or group.  I have none of that confidence in photographs, in fact I'm still learning all the terminology.   In short, we are still very much in a learning curve when it comes to these items.

So, when we start plunking down dollars (even if it is just numbers out of a PayPal account) for inventory that is unproven in my experience, instead of putting those dollars toward something that is proven and that I'm quite comfortable with, it's a big deal.  It's a risk.  It's not a fortune, but it is significant.  This money could easily be lost.   But, the hope is that the investment in photographic images will pay off with consistent sales, hopefully at a bit higher prices that postcards go for, and will diversity our listings.  We shall see.  Right now, postcards are still king for us.

We've gravitated to these types of photographic images:  Cabinet Photos, CDV's and snapshots. We've sold a tintype & even a polaroid, but our major focus has been toward these types of photographs.

Cabinet Photos seem to date from the 1860s to the 1920s.  These are decent sized photographs, usually mounted on cardboard, and many times with the photographers information on it.  Sometimes people write information about the subject on the backing, but usually not.  These are mostly formal, studio pictures.

CDVs are small photographs, also mounted on cardboard.  All the ones I've had have been 19th century photos, usually formal studio pictures.  CDV is short for cart-de-viste, and I think people traded these.  

Snapshots are informal, candid, usually black and white photos, and they start showing up whenever instamatic cameras, 35mm film became popular - from the 1920s-30s on.   

Snaphsots are by far my favorite, but they are also by far the type of photographic image I've had the least success with.   Ironic, nicht wahr?

So, the next 3 eBay related posts will be about these types of photographs.   I suppose.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Our eBay Business - Postcards, used or unused?

I had a question a few days ago about about used vs unused postcards, which do we (and others) prefer?  It's a very good question, and goes to the heart of why people collect postcards.   From a purely selling to others point of view, it really helps if to have an idea of what your potential customers want, or why they collect.

People collect both used & unused cards, extensively.  I almost never ask anyone why they wanted a particular card, and on those all too few occasions when they bid up the price of a card to a point I never dreamed of asking, I never ask why.   Some people volunteer information about why they buy certain cards, and I've researched around a bit & come to my own conclusions, so perhaps I have the beginnings of an understanding about this.

For those that volunteer information, the most common reason is the card means something to them personally.  Just recently we sold a card that was a view of a lake in Washington state.  The person who bought it said her in-laws lived on the shores of that lake and would like the picture. Many postcards have sold for similar reasons, and the people who buy them for this reason usually don't care if they're used or not.  

Some people collect series of cards - we sold some Diefenbach Silhouette cards, Union Oil Cards, Advertising cards and others where there is a limited number of cards in the series.  People who collect things like this, are most likely are looking for a pristine version, but they'll buy a used one, or one of lesser quality as kind of a marker until a better one comes along.  

Some people collect postmarks - so they'd only collect cards that are used.  The postmark itself is important, the city, how legible it is etc.    There are many people who look for postmarks from post offices which no longer exist.    If I find a postmark from Bearville, Kentucky, for example, I just might hold on to it.  That was a little post office in a general store a couple of miles thru a mountain road from my Granny's house.   It took a bit of effort to get from Granny's house to the post office, but that's what grandchildren are for.  Just give 'em enough money to buy a pepsi once they got there, and they'd be fine.   At any rate, it doesn't exist anymore.  Whenever I get a card with an interesting postmark on it, such as Dalbo, Minn., I get my hopes up.   If it's a post office that no longer exists, I really get my hopes up.

There are hundreds of reasons for collecting postcards.  I'm sure there are reasons or methods I've never thought of.  In the overal scheme of things, used or unused doesn't seem to matter. 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Our eBay Business - Real Picture Postcards.

First, I can never figure out if its "postcards" or "post cards".  I've seen it both ways, and I've not been consistent myself. 

Its a small thing.

Real Picture Postcards (RPPC) are photographs that were developed on postcard paper.  You put a stamp on them and mail them.  Many were formal pictures taken in a studio, but a lot were the equivalent of early snapshots.  When I think of an RPPC, I usually am thinking of a one of a kind personal picture that was usually kept or sent to family or friends.  That's not always the case - many were mass produced.  I prefer the "one of a kinds".   

The example above was a formal studio photograph taken of a young woman a long time ago - based on the cards it came with, she may have lived in the Detroit area, but that is just a guess.  The back of the card looks pretty much like a normal postcard, but what is interesting about it is the stamp box.  On RPPC's the stamp box gives a clue to its age.  This stamp box, an "AZO" with a filled in box on each corner,  is classic.  I do not have my handy dandy chart available, but I believe this particular stamp box indicates the card was created sometime between 1925 and 1942.  At first glance, it looks closer to 1942 to me.

Whenever I have an RPPC I spend time looking at it, looking for details.  Trying to get a glimpse of a life, or of how things were a long time ago.  It's a little harder with the formal portraits, but I do it anyway.  This person is dressed quite nicely, and the one thing I notice is the necklace and the earrings.  Today they would be considered very retro or vintage if not antique, and I've seen necklaces that look very much like that for sell in antique malls and such.

RPPC's are highly collectible, people love them.  The ones that have brought the highest prices for us have been of geographic areas - something identifiable, but not necessarily a tourist area. I just now realized that our two best sellers (money wise) were of rivers:  an RPPC of a building on the Russian River in California sometime in the 1920s, and one of the Ohio River near Louisville, Kentucky,  frozen over during the winter of 1937.   I spoke to my father about that one, and he said that the Ohio River hasn't frozen over in decades - too many chemicals in it.  Both had white hand-written captions on the front. 

RPPC's are my favorite type of postcard.  It's a lot of fun to just imagine what is going on in them, what the people are like, what the life was like.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Our eBay Business - Early 20th Century Postcards

If you want to learn a bit about the way things were, take a look at early 20th century postcards. They cover a lot of subjects, can be very artistic, and are disarmingly complex.   I don't think  postcards have been as popular at any time as they were before WWI.  At the time they were beautiful slices of a different land or culture, now they document things which very likely no longer exist.  

Frequently these postcards were printed in Germany (this example was), and I don't know what process they used, but an early 20th century card in excellent condition would surpass a much more recent standard/chrome in pure technical quality.   They seem more alive.

Many of these cards are used, sometimes postmarked by both the sending and receiving post office, and many times these post offices no longer exist.  And these cards spanned a major change in postal history.  Before March 1, 1907 (I believe),  messages had to be written on the front of the card - sometimes there was space for one, sometimes not.  Only the address could be written on back.   So if you have an early 20th century card with a divided back (such as above), it was created after March 1907.  If it has an undivided back, it was created before 1907.    

I can estimate that this card of the Court House in  Kissimmee, Florida was created between 1907 & 1918.  Most likely before 1914, because of disruptions caused by WWI.  

The stamp box is interesting, and is also typical of the era.

I like these cards, but this is all I can think to write  about them.

My next post will be about RPPCs, and then maybe I'll write something about why I think people buy or collect postcards.  Then, I'll perhaps I'll get into other aspects of the business.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Our eBay Business - White Border Postcards

White border cards date from WWI era (I like to think 1918, but could be a year or two either way) to the early 1930s.  They have a flat non-glossy finish, and of course the white border around the picture.  These cards represent an overall drop in quality from the cards which came before them (the early 20th century cards).   The main reason the border is there is because the printers didn't print the image all the way to the edge - this was to save ink.  

Think of the cartoons and how they were drawn & all the detail that went into them in the 1940s & 1950s, then think of the 1970s era cartoons.  That's similar to the difference in printing quality between the early 20th century cards and the white border.

Like other postcards, the white border subjects could be anything under the sun, but seems like buildings and landscapes predominate.  

My example is an industrial site near Salinas, California, and I chose it because it brought back a memory to me.   When I was in the Army, I had a rather long and arduous advanced individual training (AIT) at the Presidio of Monterey.  Salinas is not far at all from Monterey, but it might as well be in a different world.   Monterey was beautiful, right next to the ocean, very pleasant in the summer time, my barracks was up on a hill with a million dollar view.  If I hadn't been in the Army, I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more.  Salinas, on the other hand,  was surrounded by industrial agriculture, and even though it only a few miles inland it was very hot compared to Monterey.  It looked like the kind of place people would leave if they could.  At least the part I saw.   The communities are geographically close, but may as well be on different planets.

What does this have to do with postcards?  Well if I tried hard I could make up something, but in reality, not much.  It just got me to thinking.

Anyway, many linens also have a border around them, sometimes it's tan, other times the border is white.  More than once I've thought a card was a white border, and it turned out to be linen, and once I didnt catch it until someone bought the card.  I let them know immediately and offered a refund, but the person really didn't care - he wanted it for the subject, not for the card type.

Even though they may represent a bit of compromise and lowering of standards, these are old cards, they can be quite collectible, and I'm always happy when I buy a bunch of cards and there are some white borders in the group.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Our eBay Business - Linen Postcards

Linen postcards are very common.  

They were printed on rough stock paper, usually you can see criss-crossing lines.  They are the same size as the chromes, and were created between the very early 1930s to the very early 1950s, so there is some overlap with the standard/chromes. Their subject matter was pretty much anything under the sun.   Unlike the chromes where the colors seem to more or less reflect reality, the coloration of the linens is somehow different, perhaps just a little brighter than normal.

The two cards I've displayed are both typical and atypical of linen postcards.

The "Staked out a claim" card is a comic, but it is also considered (by me at least) "cowboy/western motif".   When you list a card for sale on eBay, you have to choose a category - and this could rightfully go in either comic or cowboy/western.  You could pay extra and put it in both, but it's usually not worth it to do that.  So you go with your feeling, and in this case I put it in cowboy/western.   Its published by E .C. Kropp out of Milwaukee, a fairly well known publisher.  I don't know the exact date, but it looks in the 1940s era to me - its a 60 to 70 year old postcard

The second postcard is a highly collectible type (at least for those who collect them).  It is a Large Letter linen card published by Curt Teich.  In this case I know the exact year the card was created, because I've somehow managed in my postcard travels to decipher the little serial numbers on Curt Teich cards.  In the lower right corner of this card, there is a two character alpha-numeric followed by a dash & a 4 character alpha-numeric.  The two character group tells you the year the card was published.  The second character of that group is a letter, and it represents the decade.  A = 1930s, B=1940s, C=1950s and so on.  The first character is a number, and it represents the year in the decade.  So on this card "3B" = 1943.  Its a 66 year old WWII era large letter card advertising Camp Beal, California.  There are tons of these Curt Teich large letters, but there are a finite number of subjects.  Checklists exist, and if someone wanted to they could certainly attempt to collect them all.  That would be interesting.

Like the comic before it, this too presents a classification problem.  My first inclination was to put it in the "US States, Cities & Towns>California" category, but I decided instead to put it in the "Military" category, since it obviously has a military theme about it.  You could make a case either way.

Both these cards are typical linens, because there are hundreds of linens similar to them.  But they are also atypical, because they are not the most common types.  The most common are city street scenes, buildings, lakes, roads and other landscape type scenes.  

People like linen cards a lot.