July/Aug 2020 edition
Issue #11 AutoMobilia Resource Magazine
Most of us have written them. Most of us have received them. Deltiologists love them. What are they? The humble postcard, or maybe not so humble when you learn the most expensive postcard ever sold went for $45,370.70!
Our interest, of course, is in collecting automotive themed postcards, and official Ferrari postcards are a good place to start. Notice, official Ferrari postcards. There are many hundreds, probably thousands of Ferrari postcards, but we’re going to concentrate on the cards distributed exclusively by the Ferrari factory.
These cards can be recognized by a few distinct markings. In the early days they usually had “Modena Ferrari Italia” printed on the front, or were printed on the rear with the Ferrari logo, the word Ferrari with the long F. At this time the cards were all black & white, with the first color cards appearing in 1974/5.
You might think, “why would a car manufacturer want to send out postcards?” Because they were a cheap way of promoting the new manufacturer’s business. They were sent to journalists and magazines for publicity purposes, and also to those who enquired after the company’s products.
Above: These three photos illustrate how the early postcards, with “Modena Ferrari Italia” were produced. Left - we see the original 9.5”x7” photo. The “Modena Ferrari Italia” script was then hand-painted onto the original photo (bottom). This was then re-photographed and reduced to 6”x4” to create the postcard shown on right. This is the 1950 “Gigi” Villoresi postcard. The photo was taken after Villoresi won the III Gran Premio dell’Autodromo on May 28, 1950.
Ferrari began producing postcards in their first year, 1947, with three postcards showing the first Ferrari, the 125 S, from different angles. These are the “holy grail” of Ferrari postcards, with probably no more than ten examples of each produced, and can be worth up to £25,000 GBP ($32,000 US) each… if you can find one.
One of the reasons why these cards are so rare is that up until 1955 many of the cards were in actual fact real photographs. It is impossible to say how many of these cards were produced, but the numbers are estimated to be between 10 – 20 for each card. Some were left blank on the back and some had address lines added. Enzo Ferrari also used them as “thank you” cards which were sent to people who wished him “happy birthday”, or who congratulated him on a race win.
The 125 S cards were soon followed up with more road car photos, such as the 166 MM of 1948, the 166 Inter of 1949 through to the 375 MM of 1953, and then postcards featuring road cars ceased until they were revived in 2010 with the 599 GTO. Any of these early “photo” cards can be worth up to £5,000 GBP ($6,500 US) each.
In 1948 Ferrari also started to distribute cards showing Ferrari racing cars - both single-seaters and sports racers. These usually celebrated race victories, such as the Mille Miglia, Le Mans and various Grand Prix. Although these cards usually lack the “Modena Ferrari Italia” logo on the front, they do however have a printed description on the back with the Ferrari logo, thus showing that they are official Ferrari. Again, the earlier the card is the rarer it is, but any of the “photo” cards are hard to find, and are usually more expensive than the road cars.
Also, in 1948 Ferrari began producing cards with driver portraits. Early examples being Raymond Sommer, Alberto Ascari and “Gigi” Villoresi. Any of the early driver postcards are also rare. Cards from the 1950s such as Hawthorn, Collins etc. can still command high prices, up to $5,000 or so. Later, black & white cards from the 1960s/70s were printed and produced in larger quantities, making them easier to find. Drivers such as Amon, Bandini, Phil Hill can range between $50 - $100 each. However, as with all these cards, if they are signed by the driver or even by Enzo Ferrari then expect to pay more.
In the next article we’ll look at the color postcards.
Above: The “holy grail” of Ferrari postcards. This is the very first Ferrari, the 125 S, built in 1947. The postcards were real photographs, not printed. Size of each approx. 6”x4”.