I originally started collecting them (via eBay, naturally!) to locate ghost signs (another of my geeky train-spotterish-ish obsessions). But, very quickly I began to love them simply for their representations of Leicester in the past. It's really engaging to take a familiar landmark, such as the Clock Tower, and try to locate the old view within the present landscape. And, in the case of the Clock Tower, that is particularly difficult as the surrounding environs have altered so dramatically.
I also love the old fashions. The cars and trams. The colourful shop awnings. The relief that some parts of Leicester remain relatively intact despite the best efforts of city planners of the 60s and 70s. Indeed, some areas, like New Walk, have barely changed at all in the last 100 years.
Vintage postcards can generally be picked up for a few pounds on eBay. The most prized appear be unused, but personally I like the stamps and postmarks, the personal messages. So, I have tendency to gravitate towards postally-used cards. I also have a preference for RP (real photographic) images, exactly because I'm mostly interested in the historical information they provide.
I also collect postcards featuring my home village, Ufford in Suffolk. These are not nearly as numerous, as one would expect, so I get really excited (and home sick) when they do turn up!
Why do I continue to collect? What is my collection for? Well, I keep on collecting because it is a relatively cheap way of investing in historical material. It helps to fuel my enthusiasm for living in Leicester, particularly when I was going through a particularly difficult period when I wanted to be anywhere but. And, as I think I wrote in my previous post about my eBay habit, I like to think I'm rescuing them, preserving them for the future. I'm bidding on a few more examples at the moment. If you're interested, please have a look at my Flickr photostream, where you'll find photographs of each of the cards in my collection.