About Collecting

Collecting everything you can about an area provides you with an array of information and an appreciation of how the world we live in today developed to become that way.  The more you know about a place, the more interesting it becomes.

Collectors of old paper would like everything to be perfect, no nicks, tears or blemishes, no rubber-band marks or coffee cup stains.  There are such items out there, but many items can be expected to show their age from being handled. Mostly we have to accept what we can find and treasure such items despite any defects. In Collect by County we have noted any serious flaws (sometimes just by noting it is "poor").

We offer material geographically, but many people collect by topic -- Steamboats or Motels or Famous Homes, or even truly obscure material like "Cows standing in water."  There is such material in Collect by County, and topical collectors need not despair.  You can buy the County Lot, pluck out the items you want, and re-post the Lot on our website free of charge.  See the Buying and Selling page for more information.


Postmark collecting has become a sophisticated hobby, with a number of different collecting societies and a large library of reference work.  Richard W. Helbock published a series of dates-only books by region, and most states have a publication(s) with more detailed information.  Mr. Helbock also published perhaps the best guide to understanding the various types of postmarks in his Postmarks on Postcards.

Certain types of postmarks have a strong following, such as flag cancels or if the county or name of the postmaster is included in the postmark.  Personally, we like the old 4-bars best, but add a number in the bars and it becomes a Doane cancel, sought by so many they have their own collecting society.


Postcard collecting, or deltiology, is also a popular collecting topic with its own jargon. Postcards came into popularity about 1900, and the period 1900-20 is known as the Postcard Era.   Manufacturing methods changed over time, from printed hand-colored cards, to cards printed on linen paper, and later the shiny cards, which are known as "chromes."  In general the earlier cards are worth more, but the subject of the view, the quality of reproduction and the condition of the card are also important factors.  


To make the County Lot listings more concise, certain abbreviations have been used.  If you don't understand a description, please contact us!

B Postal Branch
c. Circa (approximate date)
cds Circular Date Stamp - the postmark
csc Cover-sized card
FD First day of post office, or of the stamp
Flag Flag Cancel
LD Last day of post office
PC Postcard
PM Postmaster
RB Rural branch post office
Rec. Receiving postal marking
Reg. Registered
Sta. or S Postal Station

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