Joseph Jaynes, the coordinator, said the free biannual event has taken place in Santa Cruz County for the past three decades and remains popular with collectors and local historians.
“There’s probably going to be about 10 vendors,” he said. “That probably translates into about half a million postcards.”
Jaynes said about 80 percent of the merchandise available from the vendors would likely be photo and print postcards, many from 1900 to 1920 — what he called the “golden age of postcards.”
During that era, he said, the settlement of the Old West and the expansion of the U.S. Postal Service made postcards the cheapest form of communication with distant friends and relations.
“Until the telephone came along, postcards were the main means of keeping in contact with your family,” Jaynes said. “(For a penny), you could get a postcard from your mother in the morning and send one out in the afternoon.”
Among the primary beneficiaries of the postcard era, he said, were the local photographers who would make prints showing landmarks or noteworthy buildings and sell them as penny postcards to promote themselves.
“For the small towns, their only access (to postcards) was through a local photographer,” Jaynes said.
He said the photo postcards were popular as a way of showing one’s town to distant friends and family.
“They would be able to mail these people photographs of where they were,” he said.
That same notion of postcards as a window into daily life and landmarks makes them appealing to collectors today, Jaynes said.
He added that because photographers created postcards as advertising, the images were often excellent.
“The very best records on any place or any topic are on a photo postcard,” he said. “Every local historian ends up putting real value on (photo) postcards.”
According to Jaynes, collecting postcards became popular in the latter half of the 20th century.
“Modern collecting started in the 1950s,” he said. “The only reason so many postcards are collectible now is because so many were lost in paper drives in World War II.”
Jaynes said the collectors who visit the Santa Cruz show — which he described as well-known, though comparatively small — can peruse the collections of mostly regional vendors, many of whom offer antique images of the county.
“You will find a lot of local material,” he said. “If you’ve got Santa Cruz material, you’re going to bring it to the Santa Cruz show.”
At a glance
What: Santa Cruz Post Card and Paper Collectibles Show
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 14
Where: Hilton Santa Cruz-Scotts Valley, 6001 La Madrona Drive, in Scotts Valley
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