Collectors corner: pop-up greeting cards
Judging by the sheer number of pop-up greeting cards you can find online and in stores these days, you might assume the format is a relatively recent development, but the cards actually made their debut. popular appearance in the Victorian era.
Their development mirrors that of the “moving books” produced for children by authors like Ernest Nister and Lothar Meggendorfer, but on a much more abbreviated scale, of course. Some had paper honeycomb decorations that could be opened to form pom poms or hearts, but most were designed to stand upright to form three-dimensional scenes.
Pop-up design continued to evolve, perhaps influenced by the 1962 publication of the best-selling book Kirigami, the Creative Art of Paper Cutting by Florence Tempko. Kirigami combines the paper folding techniques of origami with paper cutting. Although the process typically involves a single sheet of paper, it can easily be scaled to multiple layers.
Today, pop-up cards are getting more and more innovative and complex – some even have confetti, lights and sounds – and a plethora of new companies (Lovepop, Freshcut, PopLife, etc.) and engineers (Robert Sabuda, Peter Dahmen, etc.) compete with Hallmark and American Greetings for the attention of today’s consumer and collector.
While prices for new contemporary cards typically range from $5 to $15, old and vintage cards are highly dependent on rarity, subject matter, and condition.
Christmas and Valentine’s Day cards usually pay more than others, as do cards that aren’t torn, soiled, or written on. A look at recent sales online revealed that most unique specimens sell for between $5 and $40+, but special pieces have sold for up to $80+.
One last thing: whether you’re interested in vintage or prefer to collect contemporary cards for your own amusement, remember to NOT use tape or glue to glue your specimens into a scrapbook; do NOT store your cards in anything other than an album or secure archival box; and do NOT write anywhere on the card or its envelope. You will thank us later if you ever decide to sell.
Want to learn more about collecting pop-up cards? Check out these sites and
Greeting Card Association (GreetingCard.org) – The organization sponsors the annual Noted: The Greeting Card Expo for “greeting card manufacturers, publishers, retailers, buyers, artists, sales representatives and licensing agencies”. They also host the LOUIE awards for the best cards in various categories.
Malcom Warrington invites you to learn more about Victorian greeting cards (Collectors Weekly) – The interview offers valuable advice and information.
Movable Book Society (MovableBookSociety.org) – Their quarterly newsletter, Movable Stationery, features “articles on all things paper furniture.” The site also contains links to major paper engineers.
Paper Engineer Creates Beautiful Context Maps (MyModernMet.com) – Peter Dahmen’s article includes links to videos showing his process.
These pop-up cards are incredible feats of paper engineering (InterestingEngineering.com) – Great photos.