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Postcard collecting appeals to enthusiasts of history, architecture, art and social history.

Photographic picture postcards tend to command the highest prices at auction, particularly those from the Victorian era to the start of the Second World War. Subject, publisher, photographer or artist, country of origin and the postmark are key factors in determining value. Foreign cards are also popular with collectors, notably those by Art Nouveau and Art Deco artists. A humorous card showing a drawing of postal clerks seated around a large inkwell sold at auction for £31,759 in 2002. The hand-coloured card dating from 1840 is believed to be the world's oldest postcard and boasts a Penny Black stamp.

Established in 1991 ILS World's private client team is experienced at working with collectors who include collectibles as part of their investment portfolios. The team assists with trust and specialist company formation which are used as tools to safeguard collections for owners and future successors.

Post card collection

The growing number of online auctions in recent years has also boosted the appeal of passion assets particularly deltiology, which is the study of postcards.

Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and Andy Warhol were all keen postcard authors.

Historical societies, libraries and researchers enthusiastically amass postcards as they portray a particular moment in time or mark specific occasions. A meticulously catalogued archive relating to Cumbria and the Lake District sold at auction for £5,500 last year.

The first postcards had no pictures allowing a person to write the address on one side and a message on the back. Their introduction was particularly popular with businesses as it was a cheaper and quicker way to communicate.

In 1894, the Royal Mail granted permission to publishers to sell picture postcards in the UK - it coincided with the growing popularity of day trips to British seaside resorts. Publishers spotted an opportunity and were soon producing cards with images of much-visited destinations.

In 1902 the Post Office allowed both the address and message to be written on one side of a postcard, and publishers quickly responded by producing cards with the now familiar dividing line down the back, allowing the message and address on one side and a full picture on the other. Donald McGill, dubbed the king of the seaside postcard, designed saucy material from 1904 until 1962 featuring fat old ladies, drunken middle-aged men, honeymooning couples and prudish vicars. He produced 12,000 designs during his prolific career and more than 200 million of his cards were sold. But in 1954, during a morality campaign, he was found guilty of publishing obscene images and some of his cards were banned.

The ILS World private client team has a great deal of experience supporting many passionate collectors and collaborate with acknowledged industry professionals such as storage experts who know how postcards should be stored.

Collection of old post cards

Boxes with themed subsections were widely used because they were compact and reasonably priced, but cards deteriorate from constant handling and cardboard albums with the corners of a postcard threaded into slots replaced them. More recently a version with plastic pockets has grown in appeal.

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At ILS World, we don’t restrict ourselves, we like to go beyond the borders. That is why we operate globally. You will find our offices in Isle of Man, British Virgin Islands, Hong Kong, and Portugal.

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*An Isle of Man based postcard collector has kindly shared with us a selection of cards issued to mark Queen Elizabeth II's coronation on June 2 1953.

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