After the Austrian Post Office debuted the first official postcard in October of 1869, many other countries in Europe followed suit, beginning with Germany, Belgium, and Holland. In 1871, the trend spread beyond Europe to Canada and Russia, and it became increasingly clear that people wanted to send postcards, often called “pioneers,” beyond the arbitrary borders of the country where they lived.

The first International Postal Conference was held in 1874 in Bern, Switzerland, and was attended by delegates from 22 countries. The meeting resulted in the first International Postal Treaty, which took effect in July of 1875 and established a General Postal Union and uniform rates for letter distribution among the member countries.

At the time, only governments were printing and distributing postcards, which included brief instructions for writing the address on one side and the message on the reverse. However, postcards quickly evolved to include illustrated designs that reflected their place of origin, since businesses could print imagery directly onto these prepaid, government-issued cards.

Events like 1893’s World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago capitalized on the postcard’s growing popularity and created several custom postcards for the occasion. But once postal services began allowing privately published postcards, like the United States did in 1898, the postcard market exploded. This shift to decorative cards also resulted in the need for a split side where both message and address could be written.

Soon postcards were being made everywhere from Shanghai, China, to Selma, Alabama, typically featuring unique local architecture, cultural events, or tourist destinations. The ability to send a postcard halfway across the globe gave travelers a perfect way to remind those back home that you were thinking of them wherever you went, be it the Eiffel Tower, the Panama Canal, or the Taj Mahal.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)



Andreas Praefcke's postcard collection of theatres and concert halls worldwide. Showcases 3700 images of over 1810 … [read review or visit site]

Tall Tale Postcards

Tall Tale Postcards

Don't let this one get away from you. This 'unbelievable' collection, from the Wisconsin Historical Society, featur… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

China Old Postcard Revolutionary Soldiers Trenches Hankow To Germany 1912 !!Vintage Hong Kong Photo Post Card "ladder Street" (ll64)Hong Kong Peninsular Hotel Kowloon Rp Postcard 1920'sMalaya Singapore Penang Gruss Aus Chromo Postcard 1905 Multi Stamps & Cds - 54Turkey - Smyrne - The Railway Station1910 China Qing Prince Zaitao Visit French Cavalry School Postcard 爱新觉罗载涛访法国军校Hong Kong Preparation For Chinese Wedding Rp Postcard 1920'sStreet Scene Hong Kong Rp Postcard C1920'sHong Kong Queens Road Rp Postcard 1920'sChina Old Postcard Russia Japan War Map !!Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia ~ Town's Museum, Front Facade ~ Used 1920 Post Office Hong Kong Rp Postcard 1920'sMalaysia - Kuching -hun Yeang Steet - Sarawak C.1910 - U/b Card - Pub. Ha BueyHong Kong Photo Album PageLot Of 100 Antique Japanese PostcardsMalaysia - Sea Dayak Priests (orang Mengar) - Sarawak C.1910 - U/b Card Ha BueyMalaysia - Kuching - Regatta Day No.2 - Sarawak C.1910 - U/b Card Pub. Ha BueyMalaysia - Kuching Esplanade & Bandstand - Sarawak C.1910 - U/b Card - Ha BueyMalaysia - Sunset At Kuching - Sarawak C.1910 - U/b Card Pub. Ha BueyHong Kong Peddar Street Rp Postcard 1920'sTurkey Postcard - Smyrne - Market PlaceHong Kong Des Voeux Road Rp Postcard 1920'sMalaya - Seremban - Birch Road, Lee Kee & Co - Old Real Photo PostcardChina Old Postcard College School Shanghai Zi Ka Wei Basketball Team !!1910 Russia Poland Warszawa Bracka Street Scene Postcard To Usa #12 Pc. South Africa Chinese Railway Workers. Postmark Transvaal Klip River 1907Malaysia - Kuching - Regatta Day No.1 - Sarawak C.1910 - U/b Card Pub. Ha BueyMalaysia - Kuching Fort & Landing Stage - Sarawak C.1910 - U/b Card Pub. Ha BueyMalaysia - Kuching - Ice Works & Reservoir - Sarawak C.1910 - - Pub. Ha BueyBritish North Borneo A Native Market Postcard 1905 - 372 Postcards Of Johore Causeway,malaysia,old Train Shown. Very Early Cards, SAntique Photograph Postcard Turkey Constantinople Freres A Kadi-keui Museum X5Lot Of 5 1950s Chinese Post Cards Hong KongLot Of 6 Vintage 1950s Post Cards Hong Kong 1902 Russian Postcard Okhotny Market Moscow RussiaMalaya Singapore Gopeng Flooded Street Rp Pc 19?? Gopeng Cds Fms Stamps - 561910 China Qing Prince Zaitao Visit French Military School Postcard 爱新觉罗载涛访法国军校Malaysia - Borneo Co. Ltd Office & Godwin - Sarawak C.1910 - U/b Card - Ha BueyMalaysia - Kuching From The Astana - Sarawak C.1910 - U/b Card - Pub. Ha BueyOld Photograph Postcard Turkey Turkish Constantinople Stamboul Place D'emin EunuChina Old Postcard The Drawing Room Of Canton Lottary !!Malaya Old Postcard New Waru General Hospital Penang To Germany 1939 !!C53/ U.s.s.r. Russia Soviet Union Foreign Postcard C1920 Red Army Pole VaultTurkey Postcard - Parlement De La Turquie3 Different Postcards Russia Town Views Ca 1907 - 1911 2 Are Used1911 Russia Lithuania Kowno Street Scene Postcard To Usa #16 1911 Russia Poland Warszawa Street Scene Postcard To Usa #14 Beuthen,germany,oberschlesien,bytom,poland,silesia,restaurant,rppc,pm 1929British North Borneo Rayoh River And Settlement Postcard 1905 - 38Asakusa Park, Tokyo, Japan - Early 1900's Hand Colored PostcardBritish Consulate Swatow China Rp Postcard 1920'sMalaysia - Sea Dayak Women In Full Costume No.3- Sarawak C.1910 -u/b - Ha BueyRussia Vladivostok The Wladiwostoci (?) Railway Station & 2 Japanese SoldiersVintage Russia Pc People Eating Types De Russie To Usa #43Karuizawa City, Shinshu, Japan - Early 1900's Japanese Postcard5425 - Quebec - Rppc - Rare - Main Entrance - Parc Belmont, Montreal2 Vintage Old Postcard Occupied Japan Korea Street Scene Children Women3 Rppc-peking China-??-tower-hillside Temple-architecture-gate-beijingBritish North Borneo Junction Of Rayoh And Padas Rivers Postcard E20c - 36British North Borneo View Of The Padas River Postcard E20c - 39