Collectors converge in Chambersburg to peruse postcards

June 17, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Two flushed Kewpie dolls poking their heads out of a trash can, black cats, submarines and landscapes of Pennsylvania were the scenes on just a handful of the thousands of postcards for sale at a Chambersburg show Sunday.

A half-dozen vendors from around the East Coast set up their stock at the Four Points Sheraton for six hours Sunday while postcard enthusiasts from the Tri-State area and beyond came to build up their collections.

Karen Schell started out small, collecting postcards four years ago with views of her hometown of Cincinnati. That grew to collecting scenes and landmarks of other cities and states she lived in, as well as vacation spots.


Now the children's librarian looks for many themes, including anything related to fairy tales or nursery rhymes, at postcard shows every month. She estimates her collection now tops more than 5,000 postcards.

Schell's trip from Reston, Va., to Chambersburg Sunday was worth it, because she went home with more than 200 new postcards, including some with Halloween images.

"It's an addictive hobby," she said. "Trying to find that rare card or one priced lower than it is worth" adds to the excitement of the shows, she said.

While looking for a card signed by the artist or a postcard missing from a series can lead to some competition among collectors, there is a great camaraderie.

"Shows are like a family reunion," said DeDe Schaeffer, a postcard dealer from Lancaster, Pa., at Sunday's show.

Stephen and Elvira Hoops, who own antique shops, including one in New Oxford, Pa., came from their home on Long Island, N.Y., to sell some of their stock Sunday.

With a show stock of more than 65,000 cards, the couple has postcards sorted into hundreds of categories ranging from animals to holidays, states and World War II.

Stephen Hoops began dealing postcards more than 25 years ago when he bought a small collection at an estate sale for $22.50.

After selling them individually at other antique shows, Hoops turned a profit and began acquiring more postcards.

The couple's stock now hovers above 200,000, he said.

Even so, Stephen Hoops said he is not a big dealer.

"Some have 10 times that amount," he said.

Postcards in their collection date back to 1892. Some are blank, while others include the sender's original handwritten greetings.

"People look for virtually everything," Stephen Hoops said, picking up a postcard from the corkscrew category.

For some reason, cards with Halloween images are among the most popular, he said.

"Anything with the skyline of New York City went up real high after Sept. 11," Elvira Hoops said.

Topic postcards, as opposed to views, tend to be in greater demand and pack a higher price.

Stephen Hoops said he's sold some for more than $800, but many in stock Sunday cost between $2.50 and $8.50 each. He and his wife also had boxes of 25-cent postcards and reserved albums to display the more valuable ones.

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