While going through boxes of old things from my family, I came upon a ton of ancient greeting cards. They ranged from Art Deco beauties to funky images from the 1960s.
“Wow,” I thought, “these must be worth a fortune!”
The short answer is: Nope.
The longer answer requires a bit more explanation.
See, most vintage greeting cards have been signed and mailed.
After all, that’s what they’re for. Who needs a 1970s card to Aunt Emily from Beatrice and the kids?
Other cards were stuck into albums, and the glue and tape just won’t come off. And in most cases, the cards have yellowed, browned, torn and wrinkled over time.
So what’s to be done with them?
Keep them, donate them, give them away.
Or sell them!
Most vintage greeting cards aren’t worth a lot of money, at least individually. But designers, crafters and artists often like to use the images in scrapbooking, decoupage and other applications – or simply for inspiration. They prefer to buy quantities of vintage cards.
Other people frame them for display, which can create an inexpensive and lovely way to decorate!
There are exceptions.
Elaborate Victorian cards.
Back in the mid to late 1800s, greeting cards were often hand painted by noted artists such as Kate Greenaway, and featured elaborate lifestyle scenes, floral motifs, animals and other designs. They were expensive even then, so that only the wealthiest people could send them.
Today, these cards can be worth a lot of money IF they’re in good condition and if they were not mass-produced. English companies such as Raphael Tuck & Sons, De La Rue and Marcus Ward & Co. are in greatest demand – one card fetched nearly $16,000!
Ordinary calling cards and greeting cards could still be worth anywhere from $15 – $30 if they’re in pristine condition, unsigned and unmarked.
There are people who do collect vintage greeting cards; however, they tend to specialize in, say, Christmas or Mother’s Day cards, or unusual cards such as pop-ups, die-cut cards and humorous cards.
But once again, the biggest prize goes to the unused cards, without blemish.
How to sell your cards.
Some old unsigned cards in good to excellent condition can be sold for about the same price as a modern card.
Those with unused envelopes can command a dollar or two more.
For the most part, they’re sold in lots of five, 10 or more. Be sure that you don’t damage them when you’re getting ready to sell them.
- Remove them VERY carefully from albums. Do not attempt to take off any tape or glue. A serious card collector will know how to handle that. And state any such marks in your offer for sale.
- Look through each card carefully. Sometimes, there’s still money or other interesting items inside!
- Try to date the cards. Some have dates on them; others will reflect changing card company logos, which may help. And, of course, the style of the design could be a clue.
- Remove them from their envelopes. If the envelope is still in good shape, keep it with the card, but don’t allow the glue to touch it.
- Group cards such as holiday and birthday cards together, since they tend to be sent to more than one person at a time. Anniversary or New Baby cards may be sold individually.
Personally, I’d hold on to the older, more handcrafted and unusual cards. With everyone else tearing them up for crafts and other art projects, they may eventually become scarce enough to be worth something!
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And enjoy the hunt!