How to Store and Display Your Postcards

Updated on December 13, 2017
SheilaMilne profile image

I have been collecting postcards all my life as my father did before me. I now have many thousands of them, both vintage and modern.

A selection of my postcard albums
A selection of my postcard albums | Source

Too Many Postcards?

If you become smitten by the postcard collecting bug, and believe me it can be very addictive, you will very soon start to wonder what to do with them all. You can of course put them up on a noticeboard or frame them, but if you are a true addict, you will quickly find you have too many even for that. Though, of course, some would say you can never have too many.

Here are a few suggestions for how to store and display your postcards, or a combination of both. Sometimes a display can be seen as a type of storage. I personally have just a few on display at any one time and keep most of my more precious ones carefully tucked away safely. I like to rotate the displayed cards regularly though there are a few that I love so much I keep them constantly on view. My vintage cards are stored in archive quality sleeves in special albums.

Storage and Display Solutions

Storing

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Cardboard boxes with dividers
  • Plastic boxes
  • Metallic boxes
  • Albums

Displaying

  • Fixed wall display
  • Framed
  • Temporary displays
  • In a specially made "album"
  • Freely hung on wire, string, or thread

Shoe box filled with postcards
Shoe box filled with postcards | Source

Shoe Boxes

The Simplest and Least Expensive Storage

I know it doesn't sound exciting but one of the easiest ways to store cards is to use shoe-boxes, or any box of a similar size and shape. All but the largest or the more unusually shaped cards will fit very easily and you can store a remarkably large number in just one box. They are kept tidily and relatively safely and it will fit any budget.

This is the most cost effective way of storing your postcards.

You can have one of theses boxes specifically for the wide panoramic cards that are popular in some countries. Just turn the box through 90 degrees and you have the perfect size!

The disadvantage comes when you want to look through them. Let's face it, there is little point in collecting postcards if you can't admire them yourself or show them to other people. Then you're faced with taking them out in handfuls, and sorting through them. If you're looking for a specific one, or group of postcards, you do have a problem. It can mean leafing through hundreds to find what you want. That really won't do any good to the condition of the cards.

Nevertheless, it's a popular way of storing cards because it's cheap and easy. If the look of them offends you, try covering them with pretty paper or decorating them in some way.

Shoebox with cards sorted into individual countries and inside paper bags
Shoebox with cards sorted into individual countries and inside paper bags | Source

Shoebox With Dividers

My father, as many other people do, dealt with the problem of having to leaf through so many postcards just to find one in particular, or merely for enjoyment, by subdividing the box with stiff cardboard tabs labelled with the country name. After all, if you can't take them out to look at them, what is the point of having all those postcards?

Now I found those cardboard subdivisions less than helpful or at best only partially helpful. I kept forgetting whether the cards should go in front of or behind the divider. So I started to store my cards inside paper bags, the sort a shopkeeper would use to give you any postcards you had just bought. I could store those sideways inside the shoebox with a label written directly on to the bag itself. Easy, inexpensive - and messy looking. However it has the great advantage that now I can pull out a whole country's worth of cards very easily to look at them, sort them, share them.

Storage Boxes for Postcards

If the shoebox idea seems a little scruffy, try a more upmarket approach with a designed-for-the-purpose storage option. They are mainly shoe-box shaped and sized but look considerably better. They come in anything from decorated cardboard to the aluminium one shown here. You do need to take the same things into account as for an album - the size and shape of the cards primarily.

There are several different types available on Amazon, this is just one.

Plastic Storage Boxes

Plastic storage boxes for postcards or photos, contained in a larger box/carrying case.
Plastic storage boxes for postcards or photos, contained in a larger box/carrying case. | Source

I've only recently found these containers which are the perfect size for standard postcards. They lend themselves to all sorts of filing systems. For instance, I use one of mine for my collection of postcards from UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Each country's sites are in a single storage cassette within the carrying case. They could, alternatively, be used for counties or states within a country. No doubt there are many other ways of using these versatile containers. It's entirely up to you.

The boxes are also very easy to label.

They are made by IRIS and you can find them on Amazon. I, however, ordered mine through eBay because they were less expensive at the time.

Multi-coloured postcard albums
Multi-coloured postcard albums | Source

Postcard Albums

Probably the most effective way to keep your postcards is in albums. In days gone by postcards would be glued into albums or in the best case, slipped into slots in the page, but even that will cause slight but noticeable marks. Most albums nowadays have plastic sleeves for the cards, causing no damage at all. On the face of it, they seem perfect. They keep your postcards safe, protected and easy to view.

If you have vintage postcards which are particularly precious and valuable, you must ensure the plastic sleeves are of archival quality and that they won't cause any deterioration to the cards.

There are some disadvantages though:

  • they aren't cheap.
  • they don't hold so very many cards so any you buy do need to have spare leaves readily available.
  • they take up a lot of shelf space.
  • they hold only standard sizes of cards.

I couldn't possibly keep all my thousands of cards in albums so I use a dual system. My special favourites and precious vintage cards are in albums, the everyday ones are in the shoeboxes.

Source

Choosing an Album

You can find all sorts of albums and storage options on Amazon. There isn't really a great deal to choose between the different albums on offer but there are certain aspects you would do well to consider:

  • The size of the postcards you want to store compared with the pocket size in the album;
  • Whether or not you want a loose leaf album which can be useful if you want to change the order of the cards, or add more and more;
  • You may want to think about how you would mix landscape and portrait cards;
  • The size of the pages/leaves varies and you can have anything between two and four pockets per page. Make sure they match your album;
  • If you go for loose leaf albums, consider whether extra leaves are readily available.
  • The size of the album itself - will it fit on your shelf?

Artistic or Creative Alternatives for Displaying Cards

People are always looking for cool and creative ways to display their collections of postcards. Here are a few ideas:

  • A wall display
  • A cork board
  • Pinned along the edges of shelves
  • Frame them in groups or collages
  • Attach them to a huge map of the world
  • Have a curtain full of them
  • Laminate them in groups
  • Be especially creative and adapt an old hardback book to make an altered book.

Any other ideas?

Display Your Postcards - From Simple Ideas to Very Creative

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A superb display of cards traced to their origin on a map of the world.  Attractive and informative. From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonycassidy/1413257353/A very pleasant arrangement using coloured drawing pins/thumb tacks which don't pierce or damage the postcards. From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eperales/61320071This is an amazing way to paper your walls.  It isn't a simple solution however. From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pattipics/412862913An "inspiration" wall From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/29036272@N07/5421445958Messages delivered by aeroplane! For people who consider the message all important. From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisibo/3205692211A low cost but effective method. Just criss cross a wall with yarn and attach pictures. From flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/orinrobertjohn/139788703A seemingly random choice but nicely put together. From flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/atomoil/2882069544Paper clips have been used along with very fine, almost invisible thread. From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vibio/6438957857Clothes pegs attached to the wall in a random pattern hold the cards in place. From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/silv3rglee/6760497037
A superb display of cards traced to their origin on a map of the world.  Attractive and informative. From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonycassidy/1413257353/
A superb display of cards traced to their origin on a map of the world. Attractive and informative. From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonycassidy/1413257353/
A very pleasant arrangement using coloured drawing pins/thumb tacks which don't pierce or damage the postcards. From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eperales/61320071
A very pleasant arrangement using coloured drawing pins/thumb tacks which don't pierce or damage the postcards. From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eperales/61320071
This is an amazing way to paper your walls.  It isn't a simple solution however. From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pattipics/412862913
This is an amazing way to paper your walls. It isn't a simple solution however. From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pattipics/412862913
An "inspiration" wall From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/29036272@N07/5421445958
An "inspiration" wall From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/29036272@N07/5421445958
Messages delivered by aeroplane! For people who consider the message all important. From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisibo/3205692211
Messages delivered by aeroplane! For people who consider the message all important. From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisibo/3205692211
A low cost but effective method. Just criss cross a wall with yarn and attach pictures. From flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/orinrobertjohn/139788703
A low cost but effective method. Just criss cross a wall with yarn and attach pictures. From flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/orinrobertjohn/139788703
A seemingly random choice but nicely put together. From flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/atomoil/2882069544
A seemingly random choice but nicely put together. From flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/atomoil/2882069544
Paper clips have been used along with very fine, almost invisible thread. From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vibio/6438957857
Paper clips have been used along with very fine, almost invisible thread. From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vibio/6438957857
Clothes pegs attached to the wall in a random pattern hold the cards in place. From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/silv3rglee/6760497037
Clothes pegs attached to the wall in a random pattern hold the cards in place. From Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/silv3rglee/6760497037

Display Curtains

Curtains or panels are an excellent way to display your most attractive cards rather than store them out of sight. Depending on the size of the panel, you can display a surprisingly large number of them. Choose one which allows you to change the display easily.

A "world map" shower curtain strikes me as an easy way to create a display rather like the one shown in the picture gallery. It has the advantage of being a very large world map so you should be able to find most countries and it wouldn't be too crowded by running a fine tape between the card and the country/region of origin.

Alternatively, I bought (but haven't yet used) a world map piece of fabric from a local store which I intend to use as a base for a postcard display. World map fabric seems to have become easy to obtain.

Snap 10-Piece Magnetic Frame Set
Snap 10-Piece Magnetic Frame Set

For clean lines, you can't beat this set. It offers a variety of sizes and orientation for the cards of your choice.

 

Magnetic Frames for the Fridge

Have a display of your favourite postcards on your refrigerator door. If you use magnetic frames you can move them as you like and/or rotate the display. The frames give the cards some protection and look tidier than cards stuck on with sticky tape. Some of the sets are more flexible than others as far as arranging the frames is concerned.

Or String 'Em Up

For many people the message on the reverse of the card is at least as important as the picture on the front, possibly more so. This suggestion for display should allow for either side to be seen quite easily. Alternatively you can buy string, mini pegs and do it yourself. There are of course kits available to do the same.

The Umbra Tangle Wall-Mount Metal Photo or Card Display, which you can find online, Amazon for example, really does allow you to display or easily see the message as well as the picture on the front. You can arrange the cards in any way you want and a coloured backing as shown isn't necessary. It may not be suitable to place it in a draft when it could become truly tangled!

My Collection of Map Postcards in an Album

When it comes to albums full of themed cards, such as my map-cards, it seems sensible to try to subdivide them into smaller categories. This probably doesn't apply to themes like "bicycles" (always very popular) but as far as maps or UNESCO World Heritage Sites are concerned, I think they need to be divided up into countries within an album.

Of course this is where choosing a loose leaf album comes in, and I would say you may need to buy subject dividers too. My next project is to find or make some attractive subject dividers.

My collection of map postcards in an album
My collection of map postcards in an album

50 Ways to Use Your Postcards

Ideas from the Victoria and Albert Museum

If you aren't looking to preserve your postcards in their original condition (ie don't mind cutting them up), the Victoria and Albert Museum has a list of ideas and accompanying instructions on their website.

Only one or two of the ideas are strictly display ideas, and I propose attempting them to demonstrate, but the other ideas may well appeal to teachers or parents.

If you are in the UK, in London, the Victoria and Albert Museum is SO well worth a visit. It's one of my favourites. My son was at university nearby and I would pop in whenever I had some time to kill. I love it!

Make Your Own Displays

If you are in any way inclined towards craft work and using your hands, there are various fun ways to make your own displays or albums. I have tried a few and the results you can see below. If you follow the links, you will find more detailed explanations and instructions.

A display on ribbons (or it could be string)
A display on ribbons (or it could be string)

1. A quick and easy way to make a wall display

I tried making this myself - the results to the right - and it really and truly is easy, so much so that even I could make it in 30 minutes.

It's a great way to show off a few items on a theme or colour and a pleasant decoration for a wall.

For the instructions, if you need them, go to A Quick and Easy Way to Display your Postcards

concertina-fold album
concertina-fold album

2. Make a Concertina- or Fan-Fold Album

It's less easy than the hanging display above but I think it lends itself very nicely to a selection of postcards and other paper memorabilia on a single subject - a holiday, an outing, anything really that comes to mind.

You can find the instructions in this article.

3. Illustrate an Atlas

Another idea for storing/displaying postcards is to insert them into an atlas. It's a little fiddly but not complicated and it's great fun.

Instructions are in this article.

A Very Special Postcard Album

If you want to give a postcard collector a special gift, or maybe just treat yourself, this might be the perfect choice. In days gone by, this would have been the sort of postcard album used by most people as they saved all the lovely postcards that arrived from friends and family. It is a real delight to find an album that isn't plastic.

It is an especially elegant postcard album in the art nouveau style with French flair. It will fit smaller size postcards (3-1/2 x 5-inch and 4 x 6-inch) or even photos if you prefer. The cards are held in place in slits in the album pages so reminiscent of albums of days gone by. It would make a wonderful keepsake if offered as a gift, already filled with beautiful pictures. You could consider it as an alternative form of scrapbook.

Be aware though, that it isn't ideal for keeping valuable postcards, but it would be absolutely perfect for family favourites.

In Conclusion

Somewhere among all these ideas, I hope you have managed to find a way to keep your postcards, a way to suit your own priorities (and pocket).

Needless to say, most of the ideas would serve equally well for photo storage and display. Photos, even many vintage ones, are much the same size and shape as most postcards. The only exceptions would be that you probably don't need to worry about messages on the reverse of the photo, and they are probably not as likely to be suitable for map of atlas display. Otherwise, I think the ideas are interchangeable.

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 SheilaMilne

    I'd love to hear your comments

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      • profile image

        Michaelle 

        8 months ago

        I’ve bought a variety of different frames and hang them in a collage style on the wall.

      • SheilaMilne profile imageAUTHOR

        SheilaMilne 

        3 years ago from Kent, UK

        That's probably the best place for them!

      • peachpurple profile image

        peachy 

        3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

        i am still keeping some old postcards, kept them in photo albums

      • shellys-space profile image

        Shelly Sellers 

        4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

        I use a photo box to store postcards, but admit, it has gotten a bit messy. You have some great postcard storage tips!

      • takkhisa profile image

        Takkhis 

        4 years ago

        My dad used to collect postcards, it was fun I guess.

      • profile image

        AmyLOrr 

        4 years ago

        I never know what to do with my postcards - they sit in boxes with other things I've kept. I've got a few ideas now, thank you :)

      • KateFeredayEshete profile image

        Kate Fereday Eshete 

        4 years ago from Ethiopia

        Ah, my postcards are in boxes similar to shoeboxes, and all wrapped in plastic to protect them from damp and insects. Some of these boxes are here with me in Ethiopia, where I live. Others are stored in my parents' loft in England. My childhood postcards (I kept them all) were all chucked out by a family member when I wasn't present. [sound of gnashing teeth] Your ideas for storage give me food for thought. My postcards are roughly in chronological order from when I received them. Do you keep private family and friends' postcards in chronological order, I wonder? From a historical point of view, that would be the best way to keep them, I suppose. What do you think?

      • profile image

        liny-tan 

        5 years ago

        i have mine too since i was 4th year highschool (2001) til now. i stored my postcard collections in an album made with handmade paper.

      • Cynthia Haltom profile image

        Cynthia Haltom 

        5 years ago from Diamondhead

        Storage is always a problem for any collection, I like the 3 ring binder with the plastic window you have for each card, you can enjoy them without having to handle them and risk damaging the, Good Idea.

      • NibsyNell profile image

        NibsyNell 

        5 years ago

        Great ideas. Especially the thing with the map! I never know what to do with my postcards.

      • Dusty2 LM profile image

        Dusty2 LM 

        5 years ago

        Very well done as this lens has some good ideas and tips for storing and displaying postcards. I liked the wall board display with the map and strings radiating out to the postcards. When I did a lot of traveling I used to send postcards home and get one for myself because it was a snippet of where I had visited. I just wished I knew what happened to all of the postcards I used to collect of my travels. One of these days I am sure I will find the shoebox I put them in for safe keeping. Thank you again for visiting my lens and giving it a "thumbs up" as i really appreciate it. Have a Great Day! (^_-)

      • sheilamarie78 profile image

        Sheilamarie 

        5 years ago from British Columbia

        I've always wondered what to do with them. It seems a shame to just throw post cards away.

      • PinkstonePictures profile image

        PinkstonePictures 

        5 years ago from Miami Beach, FL

        I wish Squiddo had been around in my younger days. i was an avid postcard collector, my Uncle would even give postcards I'd sent him from my travels back to me to add to my collection. His work mates would then give me theres and my collection grew and grew. I love the world map idea and there are some amazing old postcards I'd collected. Sadly I had to give them away as I moved continents and it would have been impossible to transport them all. Nice lens and thanks for the memory :-) It's a lot of fun especially when there are old postmarks and postage stamps attached.

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        5 years ago

        cool postcard collection

      • WriterJanis2 profile image

        WriterJanis2 

        5 years ago

        I used to collect postcards. What great ideas.

      • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

        Nathalie Roy 

        5 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

        My postcards are stored in one album, but I do only collect a very specific town so it's easy to keep it under control!

      • TreasuresBrenda profile image

        Treasures By Brenda 

        5 years ago from Canada

        Great ideas for what to do with your postcards. I'm pinning your page on Pinterest.

      • Linda BookLady profile image

        Linda Jo Martin 

        5 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

        You have some great postcards. Mine are in a box, in envelopes, for the most part. I'd like to get a good postcard album so people could look at them.

      • profile image

        sailor_man 

        5 years ago

        Thanks for the information

      • PostcardPassion profile image

        PostcardPassion 

        5 years ago

        Sound advice and well put together. I have about 60,000 and keep them in cardboard boxes bought at postcard fairs. Only higher value cards kept in proper postcard sleeves.

      • Holly22 profile image

        Christine and Peter Broster 

        5 years ago from Tywyn Wales UK

        Thank you for your ideas. I have a few hundred postcards I keep in a shoebox but some of them don't fit in which is very annoying. Well done!!

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        5 years ago

        Very nice.

      • profile image

        ShoppingQueen47 

        5 years ago

        I need to buy some albums for my postcards. My great grandmother collected postcards and she passed them onto my grandma who also collected postcards. My grandma just moved into a nursing home two weeks ago and gave me the postcard collection which doubled my current collection. They are currently stored in huge plastic bins, stacked up in the attic.

      • Deborah Swain profile image

        Deborah Swain 

        6 years ago from Rome, Italy

        I use Muji clear photo albums so i can see front and backs...

      • MJsConsignments profile image

        Michelle 

        6 years ago from Central Ohio, USA

        I have a few postcard collecting lenses. You've written the best lens yet on how to maintain those collections. Great job! Squid Angel blessed.

      • tvyps profile image

        Teri Villars 

        6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

        I just acquired a bunch of old postcards from England, around the early 1900s I believe. Do you know what postcards are worth something? Blessed by a Squid Angel.

      • SheilaMilne profile imageAUTHOR

        SheilaMilne 

        6 years ago from Kent, UK

        @floppypoppygift1: I'm already with Zazzle but hadn't thought of reproducing the vintage cards. Great idea!! Thanks. :)

      • floppypoppygift1 profile image

        floppypoppygift1 

        6 years ago

        I LOVE antiquing for postcards! You have a truly charming collection! You should join Zazzle & reproduce the vintage images on new postcards for profit! Cheers~cb

      • LynetteBell profile image

        LynetteBell 

        6 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

        I have a few postcards but they are scattered in different places...must search them out and use some of your ideas. Thanks:)

      • profile image

        pawpaw911 

        6 years ago

        I love the old Christmas postcards for the early 1900s.

      • BuckHawkcenter profile image

        BuckHawkcenter 

        6 years ago

        I'm a huge fan of travel postcards and I love to enclose them in albums, just like photos. Good options here.

      • flycatcherrr profile image

        flycatcherrr 

        6 years ago

        I used to keep my postcards in albums, but the albums started to take over and somewhere along the line I've lost much of my old collection. Your "shoebox upgraded" method looks a promising way of organizing what's left - thanks!

      • profile image

        Ruthi 

        6 years ago

        I have collected postcards in the past and am slowly beginning again. I had hundreds from all over the world but lost them along life's way.

      • SheilaMilne profile imageAUTHOR

        SheilaMilne 

        6 years ago from Kent, UK

        @TonyPayne: What a tragedy! We've had all sorts disappear in house moves but so far I've managed to keep hold of the postcards.

      • TonyPayne profile image

        Tony Payne 

        6 years ago from Southampton, UK

        I used to have a huge postcard collection with thousands that I collected from family and friends from when I was 5 to when I was in my mid 30's. I had them from all over the world and going back to the 1930s as well, but the box went missing in a mouse move, and it also had all my albums for Brook Bond Tea Cards and Players Cigarette Cards.

      • Sylvestermouse profile image

        Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

        6 years ago from United States

        Wonderful suggestions for organizing postcards! We actually keep ours mostly in photo albums, but I love the organized and labeled shoebox suggestion.

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