March 2024

'Contrary to Regulations' Novelty Postcards


Postcards are a novel way to send a message greeting; the first postcards were created as far back as 1870 and, surprisingly enough, did not contain a picture on one side but would have had a decorative border with space for a handwritten or typed message.

As part of our upcoming e-sale starting on the 8th of March we have curated a collection of ‘Contrary to Regulations’ Novelty postcards. We spoke to Gabriel Gold, Junior Philatelist at Stanley Gibbons about some of the key highlights in this auction.

What are some of the highlights featured in this auction?

Lot 16 is rather interesting, that being a selection of 5 aluminium postcards. These were sent contrary to regulations and interestingly, the postmasters seemed to have some difficulties getting their instructional marks to show clearly as two of them display manuscript ‘contrary to regulations’ markings instead.

Lot 16.jpg

View Lot 16

Lot 54 and 62 are also some of my highlights. Both postcards feature hair attached to the design with both being sent contrary to regulations as the regulations stipulated that you weren’t allowed to attach anything to the postcards.  Whilst some people may think these are disgusting, I believe them to be a curious reflection of the time.

Lot 54.jpg

View Lot 54


Lot 62.jpg

View Lot 62 

Lastly, Lot 2 is also a very interesting one. This lot contains two postcards sent by the infamous “Autograph King”, W. Reginald Bray with one postcard sent to and signed by Joseph Arch MP, and the other being sent to the Rector of the Parish Church in Quorn and being returned filled out by the vicar.

Lot 2.jpg

View Lot 2

What postcards are valuable?

With regards to the value of postcards, there are many factors at play. For instance, some people collect postcards sent to or from certain places and thus postcards to unusual countries with few known command higher prices than postcards sent to common destinations. Other people are more interested in thematics where similarly, scarcity will have an impact on the value. This can be seen as hand illustrated postcards are often more valuable than run-of-the-mill printed postcards. Another important factor is the stamps and markings that are on the postcard. Certain markings such as early ‘X/MAS’ cancellations are relatively scarce and popular increasing their value. Naturally, if a postcard is franked by stamps that are rare or have varieties, they too will have an impact on the value of the postcard.

What are examples unusual postcards?

Yes, over the years at Stanley Gibbons, we have seen a number of unusual examples of postcards; we have rounded up a few examples of postcards featuring some rather strange features, some of these would have been ‘liable to letter rate’ and charged postage due. To view these please visit our Instagram page: here and here

What advice would you give to someone getting started in postcard collecting?

I would recommend telling your family and friends about your burgeoning hobby as it is possible that they might have some postcards to pass on to you or send you a postcard on their travels. There are also many postcard and ephemera fairs where you will be able to pick up a bargain and fill in gaps in your collection. 

How would I get my postcards valued?

If you are interested in getting your postcards valued, we offer a free valuation walk in service where no appointment is necessary Monday to Friday, 10:30am to 12:30pm at our offices at 399 Strand, London. Alternatively, you could send us some pictures of the collection using our online form and our experts will get back to you shortly.


E-Sale: Great Britain 'Contrary to Regulations' Novelty Postcards runs from the 8th –22nd of March at

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