Values for some Real Photograph Postcards

Stefano Neis of SCVIEW gave me permission to reprint his Real Photo Price Guide. There is a lot of excellent, up-to-date information here, which I thank Stefano for letting me reprint it ~ Ron Playle.

As far as what type of Real Photo (RP or RPPC) postcards sell best... well ... read below for a brief listing of ideas.

#1) Older cards sell best.

#2) Small towns are MUCH better than cities.

#3) The US market is crazy about social history. They will get you your best prices.

#4) Many US view collectors also collect RPs by topics all 50 of the States;

Examples : Library's ; Masonic Temples; Elk's halls ; Court Houses ; Train Stations ; Airports ; trolley cars & Stations, Main street views (Especially dirt streets)

#5) Regionally Western & Southern US postcards get the highest values (Excluding major cities)

#6) Delaware postcards (older) are very hard to find.

#7) Advertising signs add much value to US RP postcards:

Signs for KEEN KUTTER, MOXIE, Coca Cola, Dr Pepper, VIN FIZ, on a postcard are very desired.

#8) Automobiles where one can see the make of the car are desirable.

#9) Native Americans (Non Tourist type; generally pre 1910) are very wanted.

#10) Derogatory anti-black themes can command $1000.00 and up (look under ETHNIC and SOCIAL HISTORY below) .

#11) Early (Pre 1918) Baseball Stadiums & players are HIGHLY desired. Black Baseball cards can got upward of $10,000 USD.

Below is an excerpt from an article I wrote for a major Antique publication that may help you price your better RPs

Values for Better Real Photograph (RPs or RPPCs) Postcards

Why are real photograph postcards now so pricey and so hard to find? This quick guide below will attempt to explain both questions and provide a current prices realized overview of the Real Photograph postcard (RPPC) here in the US.

Postcard collecting is the third largest collectible hobby in the USA. Since the 1980s this "new" hobby increasingly garners a rapidly growing field of passionate & informed collectors. At the top tier of the hobby is the format known as the RPPC (Real Photograph Post Card).

If a picture speaks a thousand words, then a photographic image conveys endless essays on what we as Americans are, where we came from and what we have the potential to become. The turn-of-the-century RPPC documented the transformation of an agrarian society with the advent of the automobile, the telephone, the airplane and an endless stream of modern inventions and resulting changes to American life.

History itself is on display in RPPCs. And collectors will pay to own a piece of history.

Example: If while searching in a family trunk, one found an RPPC of a woman holding a banner reading "Woman Voters!" while she was riding a Harley Davidson motorbike up the gangplank of the Titanic in Ireland, one could easily surmise a sense of value to such an image. If that image were proved to be one-of-a-kind, or at least at most one of a few hundred, the value rises even more. Since this mythical image also incorporates 3 high demand collecting areas (Woman's rights, early motorcycles, & the Titanic), 3 aggressively active collecting groups would want to own it. It is these types of factors that drive the value of RPPCs.

RPPCs are valued by the 1) AGE of the image, 2) the CONTENT in the image, 2) the RARITY of the image and 4) the DEMAND for the image.

1) AGE. RPPCs can be dated by both their front and backsides. Comparing the two to one another determines the age of the image. A helicopter in an image dated 1903 would be an obvious fake, but knowing when hoop skirts were in vogue would date a street scene to within 10 years. Cars, buildings, attire, advertising signs and city backgrounds all give clues to the date of an image.

On the backside of a postcard, one will find marks made in the stamp corner by the maker of the photograph paper. A detailed listing of RPPC marks and their dates of use are available at

QUICK Dating Guide USA RPPC's stamp boxes;

Some common stamp box corners noted here:

AGFA/ANSCO  1930-1940s
ANSCO  1940-1960    2 Stars at top & bottom
ARGO  1905-1920
ARTURA 1910-1924
AZO  1926-1940s  Squares in corners
AZO  1904-1918 4 triangles pointed up
AZO  1918-1930 Triangles 2 up, 2 down
AZO  1907-1909 DIAMONDS in corners
AZO  1922-1926 Empty Corners
CYKO  1904-1920s
DEFENDER 1910-1920 Diamond above & below
DEFENDER 1920-1940 Diamond inside
Devolite Peerless 1950-
DOPS  1925-1942
EKC  1939-1950
EKKP  1904-1950
EKO  1942-1970
KRUXO  1907-1920s
KRUXO  1910-1920s Xs in corners
NOKO  1907-1920s
PMO  1907-1915

SAILBOAT 1905-1908 Sailboat in circle
SOLIO  1903-1920s Diamonds in corners
VELOX  1907-1914 Diamonds in corners
VELOX  1901-1914 Squares in corners
VELOX   1909-1914 Triangles: 4 pointed Up
VITAVA  1925-1934

Study the image, study the usage, and study the format of the postcard to date it properly.

If the Titanic image we found had a KODAK stamp box, it would have been a 1950s reproduction of an early image. If the stamp box had a CYKO stamp box, the image would be off to an auction, quite possibly achieving tens of $1000s. Knowing how to compare the front to the back of an RPPC is crucial to determining its value.

2) CONTENT. Unidentified images where the location is not known have FAR less value than identified images.

Be sure to look closely at an image and scan it for interesting items such as advertising signs (FORD, Moxie, Coca-Cola, KEEN KUTTER, Gold Dust Twins.); early transportation (steam-driven cars, trolleys, biplanes, rigid balloons); ethnic groups (Black Americans, Shakers, Native Americans, Jewish Americans, Gypsies, Immigrants); famous people; or social history events in progress.

In general the smaller the town or location an image comes from, the more valuable it is. If you recognize the place in an image as a tourist spot, the value diminishes greatly. For the value of RPPCs, smaller is better.

3) RARITY. Think Pre-WWI. Earlier images were made far less in the RPPC format. Early RPPC cameras only allowed 6 or 12 copies of an image to be made (Kodak 1A camera) or even just one (Personal Brownie Camera). Commercial Photographs would make 12 copies and then use those copies as "contact" negatives to make more copies; as the process was duplicated the original image itself became damaged. At best only a few 100 of an image could be made in this "larger Volume" manner. Not until after WWI did large Volume rotary photo processing machines made RPPC images readily available in 1000s per run.

Another new trend in RPPC collecting is the rise of photographic art collecting by individual photographer. Clear and sharp examples by early identified photographers command their own following and generate much higher values in auctions.

Condition is a major part of rarity. Well cared for images are much harder to find than well "viewed" images. A superb non-damaged image has the greatest value potential.

4) DEMAND. RPPCs are the most in demand of all types of postcards for collectors & historical societies.

Pricing Guide List for RPPCs

So just what do Real Photograph postcards go for? How much are they worth? The following price list is but a sampling of values and prices realized in the last few years.

All price ranges below reflect images where clarity and sharpness are superb, the overall condition of the RPPC is EXCELLENT ­ NEAR MINT and the image dates to pre-1940. It is also assumed that the physical location of the card is verified by writing, postmark or photographer caption on the postcard itself. Images that are blurred or damaged should have their values cut by two-thirds off the lower range value stated below. For more example adjustments both Positive & Negative to the prices see notes at end of price guide list.


Automobile Identified Make $20-$50
Barbershop interior w/barbers $40-$75
Barbershop interior w/0 barbers $20-$45
Bus stops w/bus $15-$45
Cigar & Tobacco Store Interior $175-$220
Coca Cola Plant Interior $300-$1500
Coca Cola truck $500-$2600
Coca Cola Wagon $1,800-$3,000
Gas stations $50-165
General Store Interior $75-$125
General Store Exterior $45-$90
Grocery Store Exterior $75-$100
Hearse Wagon $200-$300
Ice Cream Stands $150-$300
Ice Wagon $125-$200
Kodak Girls $75-$100
Medicine Remedies Wagon (Watkins) $100-$400
Medicine Remedies Wagon (other Co.) $200-$800
Milk Wagon (Borden)$100-$150
Milk Wagon (other)$150-$250
Oil Delivery Wagon $100-$150
Telephone Company Wagon $225-$300
Trucks- Identified make $30-$60
Trucks- Delivery w/advertising $50-$150
Trucks- Service(Mail/Fire/Dump) $65-$200
Wells Fargo Wagon $150-$250


Black Baseball regional $1200-$1500
Black Doctor $100-$200
Black Baseball Negro League Pro $4,500-$25,000
Black Band Jazz $100-$250
Black Band Circus $100-$250
Black Band Minstrel $100-$125
Black Face Minstrel $40-$65
Black Chain Gangs $700-$2200
Black Lynching (No ID)$2000-$5500
Black Lynching (with ID)$4000-$11,000
Black dead remains(Mob action) $2200
Gypsy $30-$80


Billboard Hangers $50-$75
Blacksmith w/anvil $100-$175
Cobbler $75-$125
Dairy $75-$200
Dentist $90-$150
Fire men horse drawn $125-$175
Firemen Truck $150-$200
Geronimo $50-$125
Ice Delivery Men $150-$350
Logging Crew $35-$65
Masseur $80-$125
Quilting Bees $400-$500
Salesman portrait w/product $100-$150
Tatoo Artist $1,000-$3,000
Teddy Roosevelt $40-$65


Drug abuse related $200-$250
Racist anti black $450-$1,250
Evangelist $200-$250
Segregated Buildings $90-$330
Flu Epidemic $250-$350
Socialist Party Wagon NYC $2,500-$3,600
Labor Leader Eugene Debs $1000-$2000
Strike related $150-$300
Patriotic US Flag Dress $300-$400
Suffragette Speaker USA $100-$130
Prohibition Party Candidate $250-$300
Sweat shop work scene $40-$80
Klu Klux Klan $200-$1500
Third party political $200-$350
Man-Woman sideshow $200-$300
Uncle Sam $50-$150


Baseball Team Pro $900-$2,000
Boxing-Professional $50-125
Baseball Stadium Pro $125-$300
Boxing-Professional, Black $200-$350
Baseball Stadium Regional $30-$75
Female Basketball Team $35-$55
Baseball Regional $90-$150


Covered Bridges $8-$12
Post Offices $4-$8
Dams $4-$6
Schools $12-$25
Disasters $8-$20
Schools Exterior $7-$20.00
Schools Interior $15-$50
Factories $12-$35
Skylines Cities $12-$25
Ferries $20-$45
Stadiums Football $12-$25
Stadiums Baseball $50-$500
Lighthouses $35-$100
Main Streets $25-$45
Theaters $15-$35
Lighthouses $15-$100
Lightships $125-$200

TRANSPORTATION: (larger images command higher values)

Air Planes Air shows $50-$125
Air Planes Commercial Pre-1920 $200-$400
Air Ships/Dirigibles $125-$175
Automobiles $20-$25
Bicycles $20-$30
Balloons Ascensions $125-$200
Farm Tractor $35-$45
Female Aviator $200-$500
Train Wrecks $20-$45
Trolley $25-$30
Trucks $25-$35
Truck-Delivery w/ads $60-$125


All of the above are pre-1940 images and all are at identified locations.
All are EX-NM condition.

D&H (dirt street w/horses). Unidentified images command two-thirds less in value. Small or blurred images command 2/3rds less in value.

+&- Price adjusting factors to items on list above.

ADD $$$$$

D&H add $25
Southern add $30
Trolley add $10
Advertising sign add $10
Storefront add $10
Ethnic add $25
Political add $35
Private Mailing Card Back circa 1898 add 100%
Horse & car together in view add $10
Known collectible photographer add $30
Occupational in view add $10


Small Image subtract 66%
Blurred Image subtract 66%
Parade subtract $10
Flood subtract $10
Fire subtract $10
No readable signs subtract $10
Northern State View subtract $5

Bernhard, Willi: Bernhard Picture Postcard Catalogue: Germany 1870-1945, 1982
Bogdan, Robert and Todd Weseloh: Real Photo Postcard Guide: The People’s Photography. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-8156-0851-9, 288 pages, 367 black-and-white photographs, appendixes, bibliography, notes, index.
Morgan, Hal & Brown, Andreas: Prairie Fires and Paper Moons: The American Photographic Postcard: 1900-1920, David R. Godine Publisher, Boston, 1981 (1st), ill., 192pp

Sante, Luc: Folk Photography: The American Real-Photo Postcard 1905-1930, YETI Books, 2009, ill., 159pp.

Smith, Jack H.: Postcard Companion: The Collector's Reference, Wallace-Homestead, Radnor, PA, (1989), B&W and color ill., 374pp. Good source book on all aspects of postcard collecting.
"Dating Post-1920 Real Photo Postcards," by Ernest G. Covington, in Postcard Collector, July 1986, pages 26-28.
Harvey Tulcensky and Laetitia Wolff: Real Photo Postcards (Princeton Architectural Press, 2005) Vaule, Rosamond B.: "As We Were: American Photographic Postcards, 1905-1930," David R.