The art of collecting

If it exists it can be collected. The world is awash with people collecting common items like baseball cards, musical and Star Wars memorabilia to the odd and macabre such as lynching photographs, bones and death masks. But most collections are benign and fun.

The hobby of collecting is not an easy task if done correctly and can cost a lot of money. Collectors have to search, find and get the best price they can. Then organize, document, display and maintain their collections. Many form groups or clubs, which those collecting similar items meet, share and sometime swap items in the collections.
Collecting post cards may be a hobby you never considered, but there is a large group in Richmond and around the world who do so. It can be a very interesting hobby and generates a lot of conversation and spurs memories of the places they depict; especially when it’s local. Post cards are not something that is in vogue, so the post cards collected depict scenes of older sites, many times motels, old homes, amusement parks and countless others.  The act of collecting postcards is called Deltiology.

The Old Dominion Postcard Club will hold its 35th Annual Show and Sale on Friday, Nov. 9 and Saturday Nov. 10 from 10 a.m.  to  6 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., respectively, at the Clarion Hotel – Richmond Central at 3207 N. Boulevard in Richmond.  Card collectors from around the area will be displaying their cards, selling thousands of the collectibles and entering special themed collections in various competitions. Chester resident, Mike Uzel, has won a number of competitions over his years of collecting.

“I won a ribbon for this one that has postcards of the motels on Route 1 from Petersburg to Richmond,” said Uzel who has a collection of local motels from the golden years of motels along Route 1 and places outside the area. The display had the depiction of the roadway diagonally across the board and along each side had postcards of various motels and cabin lodging, some only recently torn down. Through this neck of the woods, Uzel had the Parnell Cabins and Restaurant; the Dutch Gap Cabins with a Dutch boy displayed prominently on the sign; Shady Side Motel; White House Motel and motels and cabins in Colonial Heights and north of Chippenham.

“I keep an eye out in antique shops; they tend to hide.” Uzel said. “People collect all different ways. I have a big collection of Peterburg because there’s a lot of them compared to Chester. But people collect a lot of different things like tea,” he said looking at another collector, Henry Fogel, who is also an avid collector.

Some collectors may accumulate cards of a number of different interests. Fogel has a list of about 100 different categories of cards that are assembled by members of the club and those around the world.

“First I make the rounds and look for Charleston and then I look for tea and I look for tennis,” said Fogel, a local collector. “Then I’m having fun, and I go back and look at things that struck my fancy the first go around and some things jump out at you.”

Fogel has a special interest in Charleston where he was born and that’s how his interest in tea brewed. He said tea was tested as a cash crop in the late 1800s and then plantations began growing the ingredient of the then popular drink that had immigrated from England. Fogel has cards of Summerville, S.C., where tea was originally grown in the United States. Tea is still grown on Wadmalaw Island off the coast of Charleston. Original owned by Tetley it is now operated by Bigelow Tea Company.

Uzel also won an award for a display of all the street names on a Monopoly Game board, which were named after streets in Atlantic City. He is only missing the cheap streets or properties  – Baltic and Mediterranean.

Two members of Uzel’s casual collecting group, who couldn’t make it to the interview on a rainy day last week, Phil and Olga Eckman, collect some interesting cards.

“Phil had an interesting collection,” Uzel said. “Phil collects post cards of military bicycles.”

Fogel said there are other fascinating cards, which are collected by members of the group. “Camels, gargoyles and mermaids,” he said. “Just anything that goes with their collections.” There are post cards of large playing cards and postcards printed on leather.

Uzel pointed out that you can tell the age of a card by the way the post office allowed the cards to be mailed. In the early days you were not allow to write a message on the back of the card, only the address. Later the card contained a line down the middle and you could put the address on one side and a message on the other. Then in later days of postcard printing, the name of the company that made the card or another description divided the back side of the card.

Post cards have seen their day; having been replaced by website, digital photos and text messaging, but there’s something more than just nostalgia that a post card offers.

With these collectors protecting them they will live for hundreds of years, which some have done already.  A digital image and message is only air and will disappear in almost the amount of time it took to send. 


Thank you for a great article

Dear Mark, I love that you have captured the real passion that any collector has about what they collect. I have met a few Postcard collectors but never knew the name for it was detiology, so thank you for that.

The kind of passion you are talking about is the reason we launched a social media community last year called Sqrall. The brand is based on a squirrel as that is the most natural of collectors ;) We have collectors from all over the world and they come to blog, show their collections and meet other collectors from all over the world. It does't matter if you collect Comic Books, Stamps, Antiques or Postcards the idea is to help these people have a place to share their knowledge and learn from others. We have many plans for the future but we have had an immense start and the interest is growing daily.

Thanks for this great article, I love reading about all types of collections and this was filled with all the passion and interesting points that make collecting such a wonderful thing for anyone to do.

All the best to you and all your team on the Village News.

Alan Firmin
Founder & CEO

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