"Home of Ramona" (Rancho Camulos), unused Private Mailing Card, 1898-1901. Edward H. Mitchell, publisher.
A postal rate change in 1898 ushered in the era of the postcard in the United States. Previously, it cost 1 cent to mail a card without a personal message (i.e., a preprinted
advertising card) and 2 cents to mail a card with a personal, handwritten message. The letter rate was also 2 cents, so there was little point in mailing a card when you could
mail a letter for the same price.
Starting July 1, 1898, the card rate fell to 1 cent regardless of whether it had a personal message. Publishers had to print the words, "Private Mailing Card —
Authorized by Act of Congress of May 19, 1898" on the back (see below). Card sizes were also standardized to 3¼x5½ inches, versus "anything goes" previously, and colors were restricted to buff, cream and gray — although
obviously some publishers, like this one, got away with brighter colors. The small image relative to the size of the card is in the tradition of "pioneer cards" that achieved moderate
popularity during and after the 1893 Columbian Exposition — leaving room on the front for a handwritten message.
The first real photo postcard in the U.S. was mailed during this period (1899), although RPPCs didn't really take off until Eastman Kodak developed and
marketed a process beginning in 1902.
New postal regulations that went into effect Dec. 24, 1901, relaxed the size and color requirements and replaced the words "Private Mailing Card" with "Post Card."
Rancho Camulos Museum is located 10 miles west of Valencia on scenic Highway 126. Visit RanchoCamulos.org.
LW3127: 9600 dpi jpeg from original card purchased 2017 by Leon Worden.