Postcard Mania

Deltiologists of The World, Unite!



A term used to indicate that some embellishment, whether it be metal, cloth or other has been attached to a card.

Art Deco

A General artistic term, applied to designs produced during the 1920’s. Characterised by symmetry of the design and the use of straight lines.

Art Nouveau

Another general artistic term, this time applying to designs produced in the very earliest years of the twentieth century. It’s characterised by flowing lines and flowery motifs.

Artist Signed

A postcard which has a printed signature of the illustrator. This is not to say that artist autographed the card. If it is obvious within the design who did the work, the card is considered artist signed.

Bas Relief

Indicates a heavily raised surface to a postcard. Has the appearance of papier-mache.


Term derived from Mr Eastman’s KodaChrome process, this term applies to cards produced after 1939 with a shiny paper surface.


Early cards, produced using the best printing methods. These were developed by German printers. The cards have a shiny appearance with deep colours.


A bit obvious this one – postcards are graded from Mint through Near Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair through to Poor.

Divided Back

A postcard back with a centre line dividing the address and the message. They first appeared in 1902 in England, 1904 in France, 1905 in Germany, and 1907 in the US. It’s a useful dating tool for unused postcards.


A loose term used to describe any postcard produced prior to the introduction of divided backs.


A little obvious – a postcard with a raised surface.


Brown spots in the paper’s surface. These are spots of mildew and as they penetrate the paper, cannot be removed by erasing but on occasion may by removed by bleaching.


Characterised by surface cracks and other damage. When new these postcards would’ve had a glossy surface due to the applied varnish-like coating.

Golden Age

Generally considered to be between 1898 and 1918.


A black and white postcard with water colours applied by hand with stencils.

Hold-to-light or HTL

These postcards are often of a night-time scene with cut out areas to show the light.


Postcards published from the 1920’s to the 1950’s. They were produced on textured paper having a cross-hatched surface. Thus the surface would resemble linen fabric.


Any postcard which deviates from the norm – e.g. postcards produced from unusual material or having things attached.


A tradename of Raphael Tuck. Oilettes are reminiscent of oil paintings and have noticeable brush strokes.

Real Photographic or RP

Postcards produced by a photographic process rather than a printing one.


Postcards where silk fabric is applied to the design, or the total image is printed on silk fabric, then attached to a postcard blank.


A postcard showing a street scene or general view. The opposite term is Subject.

There we are. This list of terms is not exhaustive – please let me know if you think that I’ve made any glaring omissions.