Tuesday Post: Historical Postage Stamp Rates to Date Postcards

antique french postage stamp

If you have ever acquired a postcard with a postage stamp and an illegible postmark, you know the frustration of trying to date the postcard.  Yes, you can place the postcard within a certain time period based on what style it is, but that only tells you when it was printed – it will not give you a hint as to when it was mailed.  Many senders did not date their postcards – I wonder if that is because they were intended as quick messages as opposed to keepsakes, similar to email and text messages today?  Anyway, the postmark is the most obvious means of dating when the postcard was sent.  If the postmark is smudged, not printed clearly, or somehow removed it leaves us in the dark.  This is a great resource for dating old postcards based on the postage stamp rates from Great Britain, France and USA.  That will help narrow down the vintage slightly and hopefully with other clues about the card (perhaps the resident’s address or subject matter of the note) it will help narrow it down to within a few years.

This particular postcard we can surmise was posted in France under the “non-personal correspondence” rule since there was only 5 centimes postage paid.  That places it between 1909 -1917.  With a little more research into the fashions of this time period, that range can probably be narrowed down even further (the front of the card is a photo of a woman).  This particular stamp (called a “Sower”) was a very popular stamp which was produced for about 30 years.  It would take a lot of research to try to identify which year this stamp was printed, although it may not be impossible.

For now, I will just leave it in the “1909-1917” section of my album.

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