Looking after your collection
If you want to keep your postcards safe there are some definite things to avoid:
1. Don’t store postcards in plastic containers for long periods of time.
2. Never keep them in the film & sticky back kind of photo album!
3. Keep them away from old craft/pulp paper style albums. These inexpensive papers contain high amounts of acid.
Ideally postcards should be kept in acid-free, archival quality storage materials, away from light. Many serious collectors keep at least their best cards in Mylar (a polyester film) or polyethylene sleeves or in special archival storage boxes or pages.
In general, most archivists consider polyethylene, polypropylene, and Mylar stable storage media. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a cheaper plastic, but contains plasticizers that can migrate, leaving an oily residue on your postcards over time. One can recognize PVC by its distinct plastic smell. Archival quality materials generally have very little (if any) odour.
Do you have a particular brand of album or sleeve that people should try?
Dating your cards
Dating can be difficult! In most cases this is done by the postmark of the earliest seen, but this can also be hard due to worn or poorly franked postmarks. The postal date can also be misleading as the card could have been photographed and printed many years before sale or posting.
Another important pointer is the value of the stamp on the card:
½d 1870 to 1918
1d 1918 to 1921
1½d 1921 to 1924
1d 1924 to 1941
1½d 1941 to 1948
2d 1948 to 1966
In the early years postal rates were often specified in the stamp space. However, card publishers ceased to bother to indicate the charge after the 1930s when increases became so frequent that it would have been impractical.