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General Philatelic/Newcomer Cnr : Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

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JohnnyRockets
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18 Apr 2018
02:02:41pm
Hi all,

As you might imagine, during my gathering and purchasing of philatelic materials, I have come across a few postcards. I have taken interest in covers in general as well as stamp collecting, but have really started to enjoy FDCs, and "general" covers, mostly because of the back story that some of them have associated with them.

I have always loved postcards, and as a youth enjoyed looking at them in the stores and still to this day have a hard time not wanting to buy a few when I see them. Happy

Generally, I just find postcards fun to examine, probably more so when they have been used, but interesting in their own right. Maybe some of the allure is that they are possibly a dying thing, with the world being so digital and all.

Anyway...

I am quite a novice to stamp/cover collecting in general, but I was wondering what the SOR group thinks about collecting postcards. I wasn't sure if it was an offshoot of cover collecting and I was wondering if it is popular to collect them?

I saw that the SOR group appeared to be a bit split on the value of collecting FDCs, so I wondered where postcards fell on the collecting continuum.

As a test, I searched on EBay for postcards and was astounded by how popular collecting them appears to be, judging by some of the prices. Certainly, as one might imagine, there appears to be a bit to learn about collecting postcards, just like the collecting of anything else.


Your thoughts on this form of collecting?



Johnny


P.S. I apologize if this post should have been put somewhere else. I almost posted it in the US Covers area, but just wasn't sure.
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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
18 Apr 2018
02:30:09pm
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

JR

post card collecting is alive and well in philately, and even has its own independent following: deltiology.

many PC collectors are interested primarily in the picture side, while most philatelists are interested in the address side. There's room for both.

I don't think we're split on FDCs as much as there are those who collect them and those who don't. Same with seals, or St. Pierre et Miquelon stamps, or mailer post marks. We're an umbrella spanning a wide berth

David

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Bujutsu
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18 Apr 2018
02:41:42pm
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

Hi

I have a large collection of postcards, both used and unused. In fact, when I attend shows, almost 100% of my buying will either be postcards or covers. I general buy stamps at my local club meetings or from different auctions. I was never really a FDC collector, but, to each their own.

I have always said that maybe I collect too much.

Chimo

Bujutsu

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JohnnyRockets
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18 Apr 2018
03:25:53pm
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

Hi both,

Thanks for the input.

Yeah I find them pretty fun to collect and I recently joined an organization where you send/receive postcards to people around the world.

All fun stuff. I never realized that postcard collecting had it's own name! Deltiology. Pretty cool.

Thanks guys!


J



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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
18 Apr 2018
07:19:41pm
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

Postcards came about in the first decade of the 20th century. This started a fad of postcard collecting. Think about it, people in that era were pretty localized and not well traveled. So people lived vicariously by collecting images of far away places.

The penny postcard was also the fast way to get someone a brief message. The mails were pretty efficient back then and local delivery could happen same day/ next day. I have many that send simple messages such as "I will come help you lay bricks on Saturday" and "Meet me at the 6:30 train tomorrow evening". This was before phones, email and text messages. It was a valid method of communication.

I enjoy old town views and try to match them up with a current view via Google Street View. It's amazing how things have changed over a century!

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philb
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18 Apr 2018
07:30:46pm

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re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

I collect postcards of the Dutch East Indies as well as the covers..i like the variety of towns and cities and after the late 1920s were mostly flown by air.

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ikeyPikey
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18 Apr 2018
08:27:36pm
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

I began with an interest in postal cards (the ones the PO issues) pre-printed with commercial messages, and fell down the dark hole of postcards, period.

I particularly enjoy identifying the different production techniques, publisher specialties, etc.

I had a good time on PostCrossing, for a time, and hope to resume that some day.

http://www.metropostcard.com ... this'll get you started Happy

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
18 Apr 2018
09:45:58pm
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

Image Not Found

An old turn of the 20th century postcard of 11th Avenue in New York City

Image Not Found

Same view via Google Street View.
This is the building with the striped awning in the old photo

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tomiseksj
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19 Apr 2018
06:32:09am
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

For those with an interest in this collecting area, the Smithsonian Institution provides a brief history of the evolution of postal and post cards in the U.S.

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JohnnyRockets
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19 Apr 2018
11:29:51am
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

@All,

Thanks again guys!

-------------------------------

@ikeyPikey,

Man, you can't send me links like that! I'm going to fall into that "dark hole" I think too! Winking Very cool, thanks!

-------------------------------

@BenFranklin1902,

THAT is a very interesting aspect of postcard collecting that you are doing there and I REALLY am interested in that facet. Very nice.

-------------------------------

Really appreciate everyone's replies!

-----------------------------------------------

Okay I have a question... I know it could be dangerous... Because there are probably hundreds of answers for all scenarios... But here goes...


Where is a good (best? favorite?) place to acquire postcards... I like them used (for the people side of life)... EBay comes to mind, but I'm not entirely in love with that "place"...


Also if anyone has some for sale that I am unaware of, please PM me.


Thanks!


Johnny


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ikeyPikey
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19 Apr 2018
02:07:11pm
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

There are several ways to shop/buy postcards.

- onesy-twosy at shows & shops

Postcard shows, stamp shows, and paper/ephemera shows are all places you can find boxes of postcards to paw thru, with prices ranging from unsorted 10c/25c/50c bargain boxes, to topic-sorted cards priced at several dollars each to, in the case of the "International Postcard Show" in NYC, cards priced at several hundred dollars each (yes, that's a real thing).

Many antiques/collectibles/thrift shops will have postcards; sometimes as display/decor items, but more often for sale & waiting just for you.

Being where you are, you are likely to run across a disproportionately high number of cards from Detroit Publishing Company. Too bad; most of them are awful. However, that same company published some really excellent lithographs, so if you're looking to buy local - even if its a little after the fact - better to look there.

- onesy-twosy on-line

Dealers - on eBay, and off - seem to be an expensive way to collect but, if you've got a very specific interest (cards showing railway accidents west of Detroit) you should put some minimal value on your time & travel, and just pay the man.

- box-lot auctions

One advantage of collecting postcards is that most of them are dirt cheap, but this leads to the big disadvantage of buying postcards at box-lot auctions: no one is going to invest more than one minute describing the lot.

At this point, To Thine Own Self Be True.

If you are going to have a hard time letting go of the cards you never would have bought onesy-twosy, do NOT buy box-lots of postcards at auction. This is the road to clutter, dear hoarder, and can create a lot of unrewarding busy work.

If you are going to have a ball finding weird stuff it never would have occurred to you to collect in the first place then, by all means, buy box-lots of postcards at auction. To say that people will toss just about anything into a box of postcards destined for auction is to understate the matter by an order of magnitude, or two.

I've bought box lots at auction from Shop Good Will, Dutch Country, Phillip Weiss, and Fusco.

SGW is by far the 'riskiest', since they know very little about what they are selling. Since employment is their goal, the shipping/handling charges often exceed the price of the lot ... worse, you will sometimes be bidding against folks who live near the warehouse for whom the shipping is not an issue.

Dutch understand that you might be more interested in the lot than they are, and will happily sit with you on the phone to give you a more detailed sense of what's in the box. Really nice folks who, mostly dealing with philately, can often tell you what you need to know.

Weiss are generalists, and auction a lot of toys, decor, etc. They do stamps/coins/postcards a couple of times per year. Since they are nearby, I've never asked them to do a deep dive over the phone. And, as long as we're on the phone, so to speak, some of their phone bidders are lunatics. The lots I've won have been the lots I've inspected thoroughly, which allowed me to bid more aggressively.

Fusco is 'only' 175 miles away which, if you enjoy a good day trip, would let you inspect the lots.

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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"I collect stamps today precisely the way I collected stamps when I was ten years old."
kam41566
19 Apr 2018
05:24:34pm
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

If you like modern postcards, check out Postcrossing, if you haven't already. You can send and receive postcards from all over the world. Plus they have a very active forum where you can trade for specific postcards. I have been a member on and off for a long time, and I have tons of postcards! I am more into stamps than postcards, but I enjoy the neat stamps and the cancels on the postcards.

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Bobstamp
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19 Apr 2018
11:03:52pm
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

I have relied equally on stamps, covers, and postcards to illustrate my various web pages. Often, postcards do the best job for me, and not infrequently they are the springboard for particular web pages. One postcard in particular sent me off on the most complex, interesting, and rewarding research of my avocations — see Sergeant Joe Hicks and the Battle for Europe. Another of my web pages, "North Star Falling", about the collision in 1954 between a Trans-Canada Airlines North Star airliner and an RCAF Harvard trainer, relies heavily on postcards.

In recent months, I've purchased several postcards from HipPostcards.com, which provides a direct sales venue for several postcard dealers.

When I'm searching for particular postcards, it doesn't matter whether they are used or unused, but I have on occasion found interesting messages on the used postcards. One of my interests is mid-20th-Century commercial aviation, and I've learned that airlines often handed out free postcards to passengers and even affixed postage and mailed the postcards at the end of the flight. Those used postcards often include interesting messages related to the aircraft, air sickness, time in transit, meals, and views — "We just flew over your house, at 5,000 feet!"

Bob




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JohnnyRockets
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20 Apr 2018
08:09:17am
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

@All,

Wow, everyone has been really great with you replies and thank you to all that PM'ed me with great deals and offers to help my postcard collection grow! That has been truly appreciated and really says a lot about this great group on SOR!

------------------------

@ikeyPikey,

I had not thought of antique stores as a possibility and WOW, do we have a lot of those around where I live. It's almost like when a new store is coming into the town, everyone hopes it's NOT an antique store! And I agree about Detroit. It's hard to live so close and not be influenced.

I figure once I get my topic selecting sorted out (pun!), then I like the idea of onesy-twosy on-line. Right now I'm kind of in an acquiring mode, but you can get a lot fast! One thing I will be doing is giving away the ones I'm not interested in.

Thanks for your GREAT, informational reply!

------------------------

@kam41566,

Yes! I just found that website and have sent two postcards. I think it will be neat to get some cards from other areas. Plus you (technically) will get back as much as you send, so it's a cool "investment" in getting new, suprise cards. I like the idea.

------------------------

@Bobstamp,

I have extensively viewed your website and really think you did an amazing job with it. I really like commercial aviation as well, so your story of the "Christmas tragedy at Prestwick" was great. I have yet to read all of the stories, but they are all very intriguing! I have also read "A letter to Silver City from Vancouver's Chinatown". Very good! It's a big website with a lot of great stories that I hope to get to.

------------------------

Thank you all!


Johnny

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pigdoc
20 Apr 2018
08:26:29am
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

I'll echo Bob's last sentiment.

To me, the most interesting items of philately are what I call "twofors" or "threefors". Some dimensions of interest are:
- postmark date relative to stamp issue date
- postmark date relative to subject of the postcard
- sender's message relative to subject of the postcard
- sender's message relative to the 'history' of the date the postcard was sent.
- and MANY others (stamp issue date, rate changes, stamp rarity, usage rarity, delivery routes, special or holiday cancellations, unusual delivery modes, etc.)

The most valuable items (to me) are the ones that cover multiple dimensions. An item that contains a message directly related to the event that is the subject of the postcard's image, AND is postmarked during that event is a good example of a "threefor" and something I'm constantly on the lookout for.

The other nice thing about postally used postcards is that the 'contents' are always there, unlike envelope covers.

FDCs kind of get to this concept, but are typically one-dimensional (stamp issue date) or two-dimensional (event commemorated), and are "philatelic items". That is, they were created solely for the purpose of garnishing a collection. So, the historical context of an individual FDC is usually rather limited.

As you can see from my long list above, you can really pile up the dimensionality of an individual item if you search hard enough. This is a 'prize' I recently acquired for my collection on early aviation history:

Image Not Found

It has some condition issues, but, it has this dimensionality:
- the postcard image is a photograph of the actual event it commemorates - the world speed record being set at the Grande Semaine d'Aviation, one of the earliest and the largest air exhibition ever, to date. You can tell, because the pylon is distinctive for that event, and Louis Bleriot was piloting his model XII monoplane #2 with the four-bladed propeller to set that 10km speed record shown in the caption.
- it bears the commemorative cancellation used AT the event ("Betheny Aviation Marne"), and is cancelled on August 26, 1909. The event ran from 22-29 August.
- the sender's message references the event, starting off mentioning the "misfortune" of its remoteness, and then "admiring" the principal contenders Latham, Bleriot, and (probably a mis-spelling of) Curtiss (the American who upstaged Bleriot by winning first Gordon Bennett Cup there).
- posted internationally (to Mallorca, Spain) receiver CDS looks like "30.AGO.09" thus establishing the item as "GPU" (Genuine Postal Use).

Easily a "threefor" even ignoring the historical importance of Bleriot's performance at the event, realizing that he was a HUGE national hero at the time, having accomplished the first ever successful flight over the English Channel just a month earlier. Never mind that he missed his landing in Angloterre and crashed his plane.

I found a reference that states there was a darkroom and printing press on the event grounds so that photographers there could produce and sell souvenirs in 'real time'. Awesome.

Enjoy!
-Paul





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pigdoc
20 Apr 2018
11:24:06am
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

By the way, I spent $5 on that 1909 Bleriot postcard. Nobody else bid on it.
Go figure...
Maybe they were creeped out by the Mus musculus tooth marks on it.
Not me!
-Paul

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JohnnyRockets
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20 Apr 2018
11:37:41am
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

Hi Paul,

That's a prize in my book!

I LOVE the WWI era biplane "scene".


J

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ikeyPikey
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20 Apr 2018
07:35:14pm
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

Quote:

"... One of my interests is mid-20th-Century commercial aviation ..."



The Great Tragedy of mid-20th-Century commercial aviation postcards is that they are almost all awful.

The 1940s thru 1960s were a time when commercial aviation expanded exponentially around the world, and when the American postcard market was transiting from The Age of Linens to The Age of Chromes.

The quality of these early chromes ranged from dreadful to worse.

By the 1970s, things changed on both fronts. The quality of the chromes improved but, because the airlines were gradually de-regulated, the free postcards and free decks of playing cards and free toy model airplanes for the kids and free drinks and other free advertising specialties too numerous to name went, as it were, out the window.

(On YouTube, you can still find TV ads for those stand-up smoking'n'drinking lounges aboard the aircraft.)

Almost all of the freebie airline postcards I've come across are so difficult to look at that I can feel my eyeballs being ripped out of my head.

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey (who mourns the lost opportunity to collect a specialty that would remind him of the Glory Days of Youth)
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"I collect stamps today precisely the way I collected stamps when I was ten years old."
malcolm197
08 May 2018
09:30:11am
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

I don't collect postcards as postcards but as postal history, or at the lowest level for the stamps and/or postmarks.

It USED to be that postcard dealers valued their cards purely on the popularity of the theme/printer/subject, and a stamp collector with a bit of nous could pick up interesting stamps, postmarks, cachets and other postal markings for a song. Not any more I am afraid ! Most of them are now looking on the other side, and picking up on the unusual, and pricing them accordingly.Also it used to be that tatty postcards were cheap ( condition is everything ), however tatty postcards with interesting "other sides" are now as expensive as those in good condition.

There are still the odd "lazy" postcard dealers who are only interested in selling the picture but they are few and far between. Bargains can be had however ( at least in the UK ) at charity shops,car boot sales, the cheap end of the antiques market, and from the euphomistically called "house clearance" merchants ( those who clear out your dead relatives' junk after you have already sold all the good stuff ) !!

I usually agree a "price per card", then turn the box around and look at the backs. You can see the trader start to seeth as soon as you do that, as he immediately knows that you know more than he does ! On occasions in the past I have made a silly offer for the whole box, but I don't do that now - you finish up with too much surplus , although I have been succesful in exchanging unused cards for used ones with postcard collectors, who find used cards less desirable.

In the past I have picked up cards with First World War British Army censor markings, with commemorative postmarks, and notably one with a cachet from a French Navy submarine base -each for less than the cost of second class postage.

5 or 10 pence will buy you a clear postmark ( often of a small town or village ). If the picture corresponds with postmark that is a double whammy. Buying the same postmark from a stamp dealer can cost you twice as much -minimum. Cards with British stamps from places in the Irish Republic prior to independence are much sought after in Ireland, particularly small villages,

Collecting postcards as a postcard collector is so different from collecting stamps, although Thematic ( Topical) collectors often acquire them as collateral material.

Malcolm

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pigdoc
14 May 2018
01:42:36pm
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

Well said, Malcolm,

I would add to your last statement by saying, collecting postcards as a postal history collector is so different than collecting postcards as a postcard collector!

To me, as one of the former types, the 'hat trick' of collectibility is when the image on the card commemorates an event that the sender was at when they bought or sent the postcard (as evidenced by the postmark), AND some aspect of that event is mentioned in the message to the recipient.

An example of that from my collection is the postcard showing Wilbur Wright at the controls of his Flyer, sent, in October, 1908 by an artillery regiment soldier stationed near the airfield where Wilbur's 1908 flights occurred, and commenting to the recipient (his girlfriend?) about the 'activity of the neighbors', aluding to their flights.

-Paul

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smauggie
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10 Jan 2019
10:03:08am
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

The postcards I actively collect are construction-era postcards of the Panama Canal and Canal Zone. Most of them are for sale on ebay for $15-20 which is too rich for my blood so I mostly wait to get them on the cheap.

For the most part I end up looking on the ugly side of postcards for things like machine cancels. Every once in a while though, one will catch my eye.

This one is on a used postcard, but survived the trip in great condition.

Image Not Found

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
10 Jan 2019
12:05:43pm
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

I also find postcards a source of postal usage and cancellations. Note that my Ben Franklin stamp was created for the post card rate, so a lot of my interesting covers are actually postcards.

And the big secret... a lot of postcard dealers are not philatelically savvy! They never look on the reverse side of the card, so they are not aware that certain usage is rare and valuable.

Image Not Found

For instance... here's Canal Zone 4 on a postcard. This stamp was in use for less than a year and is very rare on cover. I have found a few on eBay over the years.

Image Not Found

And a lot of covers in my New Jersey postmark collection are postcards.



Cool old postal usage. Here's a card mailed in NY, sorted on an RPO route on it's way to Baltimore and delivered the very next day. A lot of old cards will have routing cancels, as post offices the card passed through often gave them a whack of the cancel!

Image Not Found

Territorial cancels.. Arizona became a state in 1912. I have all of the territories from 1903-1908 era

Image Not Found

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philb
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10 Jan 2019
04:49:08pm

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re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

I collect postcards from the Dutch East Indies that have been through the mail.Image Not Found

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"If a man would be anything, he must be himself."
philb
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10 Jan 2019
04:53:31pm

Auctions
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

This Dutch Indies postcard was mailed in the Netherlands.Image Not Found

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"If a man would be anything, he must be himself."
smaier
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Sally
10 Jan 2019
10:08:13pm
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

Ben Franklin - is the Arizona card postmarked "Grand Canyon"? What is on the other side? Would be neat if it was a picture of the Grand Canyon.... also like the address - Third near Garfield?

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
11 Jan 2019
12:03:46pm
re: Postcard Collecting - Your thoughts?

Hi Sue- I don't know what's on the other side, it's buried in one of my hoards! I just took a quick look and couldn't find it

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