Hold to Light Postcards

“Hold to light” postcards work just like they sound – hold them up to a strong light and you will have a sight to behold.

One type of hold to light postcard comes die-cut, which has several layers, including a colored layer that the light shines through.

A Salt Lake City "Hold to Light" postcard. Available at S&C ETC.

A Salt Lake City “Hold to Light” postcard. Available at S&C ETC.


The transparent postcards have an extra element of surprise to them. One image is visible when viewed normally, then another appears when the card is held to light. This leads to many surprising postcard discoveries!

Some transition from day to night images, some change color, and some change their image altogether.

Joseph Koehler of New York City printed many hold to light postcards in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with scenes of Chicago with light up windows, street lights and more. Koehler first published a set of these at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.


Many hold to light postcards are quite rare, and their prices can run anywhere from $10 to $100 to even more. The die-cuts usually cost the most.

You won’t find anything like these postcards being made today, so finding one in a vintage collection is a special find.

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