FAQ #9: Which cards are better — used or unused?

Our honest answer: we have no idea. Let’s say someone is desperate — we mean really DESPERATE — for a postcard with a picture of Star Street in Hong Kong. (Side note: there may be such a person, but we haven’t met them yet.) They aren’t going to care if the card was mailed or not. But it’s a fair question, and we will give our own opinion.

In our view, an older card with a couple of stamps and a clear postmark from the same location the card portrays has more character and is more valuable than the same card that was never mailed. The message can also be wildly entertaining, and over time we’ve noticed that cards from certain eras tend to convey the same types of greetings and grumbles: Can you come to supper on Sunday? I’m here visiting Uncle Jake in hospital and he’s feeling poorly. Having a great time, wish you were here. Hitler is the great hope of the New Germany. That sort of thing. Don’t blame us for the last one — it’s on a card.

At the same time, the used cards aren’t always in the best condition, and might have postmark ink transfer or other damage on the front. If the card is to be framed or used for another artistic reason, someone might want it to be completely pristine.

So, to this FAQ, there’s no clear-cut answer. It’s just a matter of what someone wants. We sell used and unused cards roughly equally. We’re not fond of cards that were never postally mailed but that have writing on the back anyway, and there are lots of these. Our descriptions always say if this is the case.

As a side note, the photo used for this blog entry might be one of the most worthless and ridiculous ideas for a postcard in human history. It’s the Yuen Long Industrial Estate & Sewage Treatment Works in Hong Kong’s New Territories. But guess what? Someone out there, eventually, is going to want it.

Until next time …