My collection of naval postcards started with a mixed set of about twelve postcards that my then-father-in-law gave me in the early 1960s. He was raised and lived all of his life in Newport, RI and had collected them when he was young. I cherished them but collecting more never entered my mind until well after his death. 

My second wife and I moved to Brussels in 1988. While living there, we often went to antique fairs or markets in Brussels and the other cities in Belgium. While my wife and I were browsing around, looking at antique furniture and other objects, I would always pause and look over the antique postcards. After a while, I became more confident and started picking up one here or there that interested me. Most of the ones available were those of European naval ships or associated with the Great War (referred to in the US as World War I). As time went on, I noticed  cards of early aircraft and lighter-than-air aircraft. They were more expensive and I held back from buying them for a long time; I was trying to stay focused on naval ships. Over time I started expanding what I was collecting but my focus was on the Navy, in particular the US Navy. While we lived in Brussels, we traveled to Great Britain, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Italy. In all of these places I would look for postcards on an off and on basis.

After four years in Brussels, we returned to the US, and lived in Alexandria, VA. I quickly learned that collecting postcards was quite different in the US. For one, there were few antique fairs or markets where small dealers could easily set up stalls to sell and trade their wares. I did find that there were postcard shows and fairs and I bought cards from them. I also learned to browse in antique and secondhand stores for cards. And, I learned about the magazine, The Postcard Collector, and subscribed to it. The latter  gave me a new avenue to find dealers who had what I was interested in. Later we moved to Madrid and subsequently to Buenos Aires before retiring in 2003 to El Paso. We traveled throughout Spain and Portugal, and Argentina and a bit in Uruguay. Looking back, the best location I found for buying postcards was in Belgium, bar none.

Somewhere along the line, I became more interested in Naval History, not only that of the United States but of other countries and bought books to help me understand the cards and ships and sailors I saw portrayed on the cards. That is when I started seeking out specific cards, i.e., cards of specific ships. For example, after reading "The Ship That Changed The World," I wanted to get a set of cards of all of the ships that participated in the chase of the Goben to the Dardanelles—but never succeeded. Later, while visiting Montevideo, I was fortunate to get several postcards dealing with the battle and sinking/scuttling of the Graf Spee off of Montevideo.

© Richard Tripp 2012