Vintage Halloween Postcards

Collectors are willing to pay premium prices for rare Halloween postcards as they become increasingly difficult to find.

Highly prized vintage Halloween postcards will garner more than a pretty penny these days, in fact, they are some of the rarest and most expensive holiday cards to collect. Original embossed cards are often hard to find, and are becoming more and more difficult to acquire with the recent flurry of European collectors feverishly entering the mix.

Current market prices for original, embossed Halloween postcards are anywhere from $20-$600, depending on the condition of the card and how rare it is. The rarest finds are generally priced somewhere between $300-$600. Sets of 8-15 originals can go for around $200-$1,000.

History of Halloween Postcards

The printing of Halloween postcards began in the mid-1800’s, with most of the cards being printed between the late 1800’s and the 1920’s. The postcards were printed in the United States, England and Germany by several publishers including the following:

  • International Art Publishing
  • Raphael Tuck & Sons
  • John Winsch
  • Gibson Art Company
  • Darling & Company
  • Robson & Company
  • Stengel & Company

Raphael Tuck & Sons, was one of the first publishers, and printed a wide selection of postcards from the mid 1800’s to early 1900’s. Tuck’s postcards were illustrated by American artists, then printed in Europe and shipped back to the United States.

Postcards drawn by Bernhardt Wall and Kathryn Elliot for the Gibson Art Company between 1907-1917 are considered rare. Cards designed by Samuel Schmucker for John Winsch are also top collectibles.

The most widely collectible vintage Halloween Postcards are those illustrated by Ellen Clappsaddle. Clappsaddle’s designs usually feature children in a Halloween type of setting. Louis Wain, Frances Brundage and E.C. Banks are also notable Halloween postcard artists.

Collectors estimate that approximately 3,500 images were produced for Halloween. The illustrations featured traditions characteristic of the time period, including depictions of people bobbing for apples, playing games of fortune and predicting who they would marry. Other featured illustrations consist of witches, pumpkins, cats, and vegetables that look like people.

Halloween postcards were most often used as party invitations for adults. The oldest cards would sometimes spell Halloween as Hallowe’en.

Finding Vintage Postcards

Finding vintage Halloween postcards in mint condition is not an easy task. Rare ones are especially elusive. Deltiology, the art of collecting postcards, is one of the most popular hobbies in the world which is one of the reasons why these vintage cards can be so hard to find.

The best places to look for rare finds are antique stores, estate sales, ebay and the Internet. There are many reproductions of vintage Halloween postcards available on various websites. Be sure and look for the publisher marks on a postcard when hunting for originals in order to verify that it is not a copy.

Preserving Vintage Postcards

Keeping vintage postcards in good condition can be achieved by using proper storage methods. Three preferred methods of storing are:

  • archival boxes
  • acid-free photo albums
  • acid-free display frames

Storing vintage postcards improperly can lead to deterioration including bending, tearing, staining and fading. Another important piece of advice is to always be sure that the cards avoid direct sunlight.

Collecting vintage Halloween postcards is a traditional pastime that will surely continue for years to come. Upon finding a rare one, ensure that it is properly stored, so these treasures will withstand the test of time for future generations of deltiologists to enjoy.