Geneva pt.1


I came across this spot a little over a month ago and found so much neat stuff (some of which dated back to the late 1800s) that it stressed me out. I was dealing with some burnout / overworking issues even before stopping here, and adding two carloads of stuff to research, photograph, pack away, and so on sure didn’t help matters!


I’ll share some of the other finds in a future post. This one will focus on the large postcard collection that I found in the recycling bin. I’d guess there are around 400 in total, but I’m only going to share around 140 here. I’d love to share them all, but it’s a pretty time consuming process so I decided to just pick out my favourites, or at least the ones I thought were most interesting. It would have been nice to scan them as well, but the photos will have to do.

Most of the postcards seem to date from the early 1900s to the 1960s. A few are from later, maybe the 70s and 80s. Most are unused, but some were written on and mailed out. I’d say most originate from Quebec and Eastern Canada, but there are also some from the States (especially New York), Western Canada, and other countries.

Click on the picture if you want to zoom in for a better look! This particular photo came out a little bit blurry, but the rest are a fair bit better.




I’m always a sucker for old hotel postcards. Those old buildings just look so distinguished.


These postcards feature dumb jokes, jokes I don’t understand, and holiday greetings. The one at top right is just creepy. Was there ever a time that it wasn’t?


This postcard was one of my favourites. It’s printed in a way that gives it a cool texture and depth. I’d guess it was made in the 1920s.


These are all from the Montreal area. The “Caughnawaga historique” up top is actually a booklet full of different postcards. The Prince of Wales Hotel postcard on the right proudly notes that it has running water in every room. The hotel once sat at 1421 McGill College, but from looking at Google street view the building appears to be long gone.


There were plenty of postcards featuring the RCMP, including one titled: “Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Indian” (middle right).


These ones have a Canadian military theme. Some were mailed, sent out by an RCAF serviceman in 1941. I expect they were all printed during WWII.


I thought these were part of a set, but I realize now that the one on the right isn’t related to the other two. That one is the weirdest of the lot; its title is “begging lepers,” and the image is about what you’d expect.


My guess is that the real photograph postcards with handwritten (or hand-etched? I’m not sure how the script was added to the photos) descriptions tend to be more uncommon than the others. I’m not sure of that though, so if anyone knows better teach us a lesson in the comments! Most of these are from places in Quebec. The Chateau Frontenac postcard at the bottom is very cool, and might be worth listing on eBay.


Let’s finish up with these guys. On the left is a photo of a band (specifically, the Vancouver Kitsilano Boys’ Band) that apparently won something during the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. Their conductor was Arthur Delamont, who is notable enough to merit a Canadian Encyclopedia page.

On the right is a photo of Mount Eisenhower as taken by Byron Harmon, an early photographer of the Canadian Rockies. This postcard must have been printed between 1946 and 1979, because before and after those dates the peak was named Castle Mountain. Apparently the powers that be decided to rename it in honour of General Dwight D Eisenhower after WWII, but it didn’t go over particularly well with the general public.

Pretty cool collection eh? I like postcards because they’re like little windows into the past. They’re definitely fun to look through, especially when you find them in the trash and don’t know what you’re going to see next.

31 thoughts on “Geneva pt.1”

  1. Thank you for another great post. I empathize with the stress you feel when you find a great location full of interesting and potentially valuable objects (that you don’t want to end up in a dump or being incinerated) while knowing that you already have a bunch of stuff collected that you want/need to photograph and sell. I trust you will be able to find β€”and then re-find as needed β€” a balance in your life so that you don’t feel overwhelmed too often. I’ve been going through first my mother’s and now my father’s filing cabinets during the past few months and recently found a cache of unused post cards and greeting cards from the 1960s. They are definitely windows into the past!

    1. Glad you like it! To me there’s just so much garbage and so little time. Maintaining a work-life balance is important though, otherwise you don’t end up feeling enough joy.

  2. wow.

    pretty sure I saw on antique road show, that some post cards are very valuable.
    especially the older ones.

    maybe you can hunt up a collector..

    oh…if you can advertise in Asian markets, it seems to me they are keen to collect Canadian postcards.

    any Anne of Green Gables old post cards? those are sought after in Asian Markets, I think

    1. Some are pretty valuable yeah. I doubt any of these are super valuable (the Chateau Frontenac one might be worth like 20-30$, same with the Mount Eisenhower card and the leper card) but they might do well in lots. Ie: the collection of Mountie postcards, the Montreal ones, and the Chateau Frontenac / CP Hotel postcards (there were a bunch) might be worth listing together.

  3. Also check to see if you have any Halloween, Christmas or RRPC – real photo post cards – some of those can bring very good money.

    I look forward to and enjoy all of your posts.

      1. My dad and his two brothers were on a “real photo post card” as well as one of his father. From the late 1920’s here in the us. Thanks for a great post.

  4. Wow,dude,some of these are serious history & architectural history,some of these might be worth coin to for ex,the Mccord museum,architecture fans history fans religion,sports,jack dempsey,the first oratory chapel,the prince of wales was where houdini stayed after the princess theatre gut punch that killed him,it’s paper,but anything really old or demolished is of historical interest,would like the horn postcard (i have an old massively beat up tuba πŸ˜‰

  5. & the mandarin & other dude with son,were wiped out when mao came along.

  6. Vintage postcards are great fun for anyone with an interest in cultural history. As you say, they’re “windows into the past.”

    I can well imagine how being confronted by 400 of them (and all delightful, in their own way), might be a bit overwhelming in terms of processing. One thing … it doesn’t all have to be done at once. Just proceed at a comfortable pace; the job will get done. Simply consider how long they’ve been languishing these many years, wherever they’ve been tucked away; a while longer will be of no consequence.

    1. It wasn’t just the postcards, it was a lot of other cool junk that I’ll share in an upcoming post. Plus all the other stuff I’ve collected in the past, of course. But yeah, I am trying to figure out an ideal pace.

      1. Looking forward to seeing it all. Wish I lived closer. I’d be only too happy to help with processing all the stuff and things.

      2. I have dreams like that, finding some pile of junk that’s just what I’m interested in, or maybe a garage sale with the same stuff at giveaway prices.

        Then I lose it, and spend dream time trying to find where it was.


  7. What an amazing travelogue and peek into an another era.We have wised up ,some what ,as a species.Now it’s scanned(as much as you can chew in 1 sitting) for prosperity .
    I have never seen an (aerial) view of the ‘golden mile’ INTACT (pre-demolition)for sky scrapers.Sorry to hear of your burnout I sympathise.( I thought you’ed been quiet recently)
    Please take heed,step back regroup.You are way too interesting ,experienced,devoted,and savey to drop into oblivion all the best please take-care

    1. Indeed. People back in the day had a bit of a fascination for “freaks” I think. It reminds me of these other postcards I found a while back, from a “freak show” at Montreal’s old Belmont Park (now long gone). I included them in my best of 2014 post if you’d like to check them out. Very bizarre, and kind of depressing but interesting.

  8. Most the postcards I see would roll a buck apiece here. The joke ones, “puffy” holiday ones perhaps two. There are loads of postcards out there as they were really popular to send and keep. I’d group like subjects together for on line selling or let people choose at your garage sale. I find most collectors look for very specific subjects…dogs, places events…

    Fun finds, don’t stress them. Just enjoy them and then let customers choose. Then use the money for a massage ;))


  9. Ones that are pre-1920 tend to go for more than any, especially if it shows old buildings that aren’t around anymore.

  10. What a wonderful find! You always seem to find such interesting stuff but I suppose you sift through a lot of junk to find the gems you show us! Postcard collections were very popular some years ago. The postcards themselves were inexpensive and cost very little to mail. One of my cousins got me started at age 11 so I have at least one scrapbook along with a shoebox full. Must look through them one of these days! I’ve seen postcards for $1. each in “antique” stores around here. Thanks so much for sharing all your interesting finds!

    1. I definitely have to curate my finds, and then curate again when determining what to put on the blog. Most garbage is still garbage, after all, and a lot of what I save still isn’t particularly exciting or noteworthy in any way.

  11. Postcards collectors have a big range from specific holiday, or war, odor sport. There are also those who just collect specific artist or photographers. “AntiqueTrader” has had some great articles too.

  12. Thank you Martin for taking the time and effort to post your findings.
    It is like we are along for the ride.

  13. Which neighborhood did you find the postcards in?You should mention the neighbourhood at least,if not the street.

    1. I regular change my mind about how much information to include. I’ll often include the neighbourhood, but never include the street unless it’s a really long one. That would make it too easy for people to maybe track down my spots.

  14. I feel the same stress at flea markets and junk stores! It’s overwhelming to be faced with so much stuff, even if it’s exciting. Reading your blog actually gives me the same rush, but without the stress of having to actually buy or go through the stuff. I hope you find some relief, and something that stresses you out less!

  15. Those Chinese cards might be desirable, though I have not seen or handled them before so I can not offer specifics.

    My personal record is $1000 for a vintage China related postcard so I am always on the lookout for more. This was sold via eBay auction. I might have listed it for $10 had I not had a hunch. Now I always auction my China cards. Some sell for opening bid, some for more, $100+ is not unusual.

    Most go to Hong Kong, a few to mainland China. I think maybe one? has stayed in the US.

    Happy hunting!

  16. The Real Photo Postcards sometimes go for a lot of money. Make sure to put the term RPPC in the listing header as many people search for that term and it is a category under postcards on eBay. I would lot the others together, especially the RMCP ones and the joke ones. Great Find.

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