Love of history sparked interest in postcard collecting
Despite starting a postcard business (Attic Heritage Auctions) just about six short years ago, Ron and Carol Littlefield have amassed an inventory of between 150,000 and 200,000 postcards. That’s is a remarkable amount of postcards for such a short time and the inventory is growing steadily.
In a recent telephone conversation Ron said he loves history and old things. “(In recent years) we sold off a lot of our antiques, and started dealing exclusively with postcards,” he said.
The couple doesn’t attend shows as dealers, but they do attend several shows in New England and other nearby areas as purchasers, Ron said.
What type of postcards do Ron and Carol provide for their customers? “We have a virtually every topic – a general collection of postcards,” Ron said, noting they don’t carry off-color postcards.
“My primary focus is on ‘Real Photo’ postcards. I enjoy the history and love doing the research on a particular postcard,” he said. He also spoke of the thrill of finding and identifying locations and circumstances of postcards for clients as well as for his own edification -- it’s like solving a mystery.
Ron’s favorite (and first collected postcard) is of the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. The card is dated 1905. “It excited me to find it –it’s a beautiful postcard.” Since that time he has collected several more of the hotel and area.
Another group of postcards that Ron finds intriguing are natural disaster postcards. “Fires, floods, tornadoes get my attention,” he said. His great-grandmother got Ron started collecting and she had postcards of the Titanic. “These were the original postcards issue by the White Star line,” he said. Ron inherited his great-grandmother’s collection, which was a treasure trove of collectible postcards. “She lived in the south for a while and had several Black Americana postcards too,” he said. One thing led to another and Ron and Carol also came up with their business name from that collection from his great-grandmother. “We thought about being in the attic looking through the postcards, and thinking about how to market the business, and came up with the name.”
Carol loves to collect postcards of dressed animals as well as holiday cards. Ron noted they have a supply of Armistice Day postcards, which became Veterans Day sometime after the 1950s as well as April Fool’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and other holiday-themed postcards.
They also have a nice supply of artist-signed, good quality postcards by such hard-to-find artists as Alphonse Mucha, Harrison Fisher (a little more common) and Samuel Schmucker.
He also noted that it is very difficult to find Wiener Werkstatte postcards which he describes as being costlier due to their rarity. A quick search on the internet confirmed Ron’s description as the cards this writer saw ranged on the high end of approximately $20 up to more than $200.
Ron said their more routine artist postcards are reasonably priced, and all of the postcards sold at Attic Heritage are postcards produced prior to 1960, he said.
Almost from the time they began the business, the LIttlefields joined the International Federation of Postcard Dealers. “We found it to be the appropriate thing to do –to support the integrity of our business,” Ron said. They have sold postcards through the membership in IFPD and have also purchased postcards as well. “I’d say we’ve mostly purchased as a direct result of our affiliation with IFPD,” Ron said. “The membership also adds credibility to what we’re doing.”
Ron said their membership status with IFPD is noted on their web sites, ads and mailings.
After a career as an insurance broker, Ron and Carol sold the business 7 years ago and started Attic Heritage. “We’ve dealt with customers from all over the U.S. and also Canada; the U.K.; South Africa; South America and Europe,” he said. Clients from abroad are drawn to U.S. views –National Parks, Niagara Falls, and other points of interest in our country, he said.
And when they’re not busy selling postcards, Ron and Carol are sorting through a 30,000 postcard collection they recently purchased. “We’re glad for how the business is working out.”
Attic Heritage Auctions can be reached at P.O. Box 276, Whitefield, New Hampshire 03598. Ron and Carol Littlefield have two online stores currently accessed through their website, atticheritage.com. One is on playle.com and the other is on hippostcard.com. They can also be reached through e-mail at email@example.com; or via telephone at (603) 616-9135.