A couple of months back I read of a collector who had bought a small collection of expensive real photographic cards only to find out afterwards that they were modern reprints, worth about 50p each. I thought at the time that an experienced collector would not be taken in by these.
I understand there is a firm producing adhesive replica backs which can be stuck on to post card sized photographs, there-by transforming them into what looks like genuine post cards. Last week I bought one of these from a dealer, who I hasten to add told me it was a modern reprint. It was of a Scottish 1901 Exhibition I think.
The card had a matt surface with quite a heavy graining effect, which was unusual for this period, and round the edge were traces of red. Apart from this it was a black & white photo. I cannot explain this red, it was not heavy enough to be a red border, it was almost as if the original was printed on a red surfaced card and the colour had started to come through on the edges. The corners of the original had been well worn and rounded, and the card had had the corners also rounded, not so well done. The edges had been cut probably with a photographers scalpel and under a magnifying glass, the two layers could be clearly seen, in fact it was possible to part the backing from the front with a finger nail.
The reason that stick on backs are being made available, is because the photographic manufacturers are no longer producing the post card sized blanks, so that amateur photographers can produce their own post cards. They have even stopped producing the double weight paper, which was a lot thicker than the present flimsy film, and so to stiffen it up, you stick a bit of paper on the back. Its as simple as that.
The main give-away was in the brilliant white back, as stamp collectors will know, some years back in the early sixties, a whitener was introduced into stamp papers, and under ultra violet light these papers fluoresce quite brightly, while the papers that do not have an added whitener in them show up as grey under the lamp. Since as far as I know, all papers now have brightener added, (even this newsletter) it stands to reason that 1960's paper production technology cannot appear on a 1901 post card.
The back which is undivided is illustrated so if you come across any like it, very white in colour beware.
The fact remains that with a simple piece of equipment ie a photocopier which most offices now have, and some sticky backed paper, some very good replica backs can be produced by any Tom, Dick, or Harry. All that is needed is an original to work from.
Picture not available.
A stick on back
There are also a lot of Frith 'post cards' about which are not post cards at all, they should really be called photographs, and again these have bright white backs. I should say they have all been produced within the last twelve months. Just because a photograph has the word 'post card' printed on the back, does not automatically change its status. It is still a photograph, but of course the price rockets.