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 1913 Old Postcard Chinese Emperor Empress Dowager Sun Yat Sen Yuen Shi Kai1920s Asia Chinese Antique Original Photo Album Old China 113 Photos From JapanCdq - China - Empire - 1903 Postcard - Peking - Hatamen Thor - Hatamen GatePeking China Old Souvenir Postcard The Hu=bu Chieh In Side Chienmen Peking1950 Vintage Hong Kong Postcard Size Photograph Bus Miltary Marching Band^~1908 Vancouver British Columbia Canada - Rppc - Hastings St. E + TrolleyEarly Postcard, South Africa, Kruger Coins Of South Africa @ Market Square, 1907Cdr - China - Empire - Postcard - Peking - Tchoung-leou - Bell TowerSt Evariste P. Q. Railroad Station Train Depot Rppc PostcardSocial History Beautiful Model Glamour Shanghai Hong Kong Studio Photo Postcard1900 Chinese Imperial Post 1c Postal Card German Feldpost Sent Bamberg GermanyRppc On Caledon East Ontario Canada Ca.1910s G.t.r. Rlwy Station Steamer UnusedHong Kong - Vintage Hand Tinted Photo Postcard - Wanchai District - Tram - Cars1872 Tokyo / Yokohama Rich Geisha Girl Cdv Photo Japan Kuichi Uchida !! 1900s Amoy Girls School Returning From Church Postcard China Kulangsoo FukienEarly Havana Cuba Mechanical Pull Tab Novelty Postcard Cigar Box Girl Bv546Charlottetown Pei Prince Edward Island Canada Postcard Coin Cannons PatrioticCzarist Russia Vintage Postcard LotBogobo Davao Philippines Rp Postcard Warrior With Shield & SpearQueensland Unused Picture Postal Stationery Card N10_2 - StationQueensland Unused Picture Stationery Card N10_31 - Sheep Under A Bottle-treeKorea Chosen Hunters Used Rare Ppc 1900/10s Penang Victoria Pier W/ Ships Used Postcard Malaysia Malaya Stamp Greece Crete Canea Depart Des Troupes Internationales De La Canee Old PostcardPoland - Ukranian Postcard ( 2/6 ) , StanislawwPoland - Ukranian Postcard ( 3/6 ) , RzeszwReal Photo Postcard - Saluti Da Bologna - Italy - With 3 No. Views.2 Art Deco Style Japanese PostcardsBogobos Chief Tangarling Rp Postcard C1905 Zamboanga PhotographerSalonica Salonique Ambulant Greengrocers C1920: Vendeurs De Legumes ThessalonikiJapan C1905 Colour Pc Tokyo The Elevated RailwayCdt - China - Empire - Color Postcard - Peking - Doscho-men Thor Doscho-men GateVintage Canada British Columbia Campbell River Tyee Club Salmon Post CardQueensland Unused Picture Postal Stationery Card N10_15 - Rockhampton BridgeCds - China - Republic - Postcard - Peiping (peking) - Tchung-lou - Bell TowerJordan Road Kowloon Hong Kong Continental Size Chrome - Postally Used 1968Iceland 1915 Postcard Bw Photo The Great Fire In Downtown Reykjavik Used ScarceQueensland Unused Picture Stationery Card N11_30 - Cane Field & Selector`s HomeQueensland Unused Picture Stationery Card N11_24 - North Coast Railway LineC.p. Diaz, Mexico - Eagle Pass,tx. 1911 Birds-eye View Vintage (rppc) Postcard1910 Philippines Islands Postcard Interior Provincial ChurchQueensland Unused Picture Stationery Card N10_27 - Pineapple FieldZamboanga Philippines Rp Postcard Mountain Moro CottabtoQueensland Unused Picture Postal Stationery Card N10_7 - Cairns - Barron RiverQueensland Unused Picture Stationery Card N10_29 - Mount Morgan, DamIsrael Hotel Jerusalem Jaffa Postcard Old Vintage Card View Standard Souvenir PcQueen's Road Central Hong Kong Continental Size Chrome - Postally Used 19631941 Singapore Causeway To Johore Photo Malaysia Railroad Trains Japanese AttackMonterrey Mexico~calle De Morelos~morelos Street Scene~signs~people~c1920 RppcBogobos Chief Tangarling & Followers Rp Postcard Trans-canada North Star At Toronto Airport, Rppc 1958Japan C1905 Colour Pc Asakusa The Jiunikai PagodaSt Johns Newfoundland Canada Market Square 1920s PostcardRussia - Royalty - Impratrices Olga Et Tatiana De RussieSingapore Rppc Of High Street.Early Postcard, Australia, Finish Of The Melbourne Cup, Winner, Parisian, 1911Tijuana Mexico Tourist Car Posing W/ Donkey C1910 Real Photo Postcard1930s Ivory Coast Hunting Hunter W/ Killed Elephant 2 Photo 's Afrique HuntPoland - Ukranian Postcard ( 1/6 ) , Zakopane Teheran, Iran, Tehran, Military Unit, Vintage Postcard