Keeping with yesterday's post of old California mission style architecture I give you a very old and lovely photochrom printed in Switzerland by the Detroit Publishing Company. Again, this is another card I really like. In fact I'd have to say it's one of my favorites.

San Juan Capistrano Mission_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

San Juan Capistrano Mission:
San Juan Capistrano is the site of a Catholic mission for which it is named, Mission San Juan Capistrano. When the Mission was founded in 1776, the region was populated by the Acjachemen band of Native Americans, called Juaneños by the Spanish. The mission was named after the Franciscan saint Giovanni da Capistrano (1386-1456).

The city is the site of California's oldest residential neighborhood, Los Rios. It is also the home of the oldest in use building in California, the Serra Chapel in the Mission. The area was the site of both the first vineyard and first winery in California.

In the 1830s Richard Henry Dana, Jr., author of the classic Two Years Before the Mast visited the area as a sailor engaged in the hide trade on board the ship Pilgrim. Describing the locale, which then included what is now the neighboring city of Dana Point, he gushed, "San Juan is the only romantic spot in California." The area was also the locale of the first Zorro novella, The Curse of Capistrano, published in 1919 (later renamed The Mark of Zorro after the success of the film of the same name).

The 85-foot (26 m) high main rotunda and 104-foot (32 m) bell tower make Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano the tallest building in town. Designed "in the spirit and likeness" of the "Great Stone Church," which is in ruins in the Mission. Pope John Paul II conferred the rank of Minor Basilica to this facility on February 14, 2000.

San Juan Capistrano is also known for its cliff swallows. The protected birds are reputed to return from migration, traditionally originating in the town of Goya, Argentina, on St. Joseph's Day (March 19) each year, a day celebrated by the city's annual Swallows' Day Parade and other festive events and old west 1890s style Melodrama at the Camino Real Playhouse starring San Juan's Villain at Large Professor Mack played by Gary McCarver of The New Home for American Melodrama. The swallows are reputed to leave on October 23, the former feast day of St. John of Capistrano. The 1940 hit song "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano", written by Leon René, is a love song centering on these annual events. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)

The Detroit Publishing Company:
The Detroit Publishing Company was an American photographic publishing firm best known for its large assortment of photochrom color postcards.

The company was founded as the Detroit Photographic Company in the 1890s by Detroit businessman and publisher William A. Livingstone, Jr., and photographer and photo-publisher Edwin H. Husher. The company had the exclusive rights to the photochrom process for the American market. Photochrom is a technique developed in Zürich, Switzerland, which allows the color enhancement of black-and white photography with the means of chromolithography. It allowed the company to mass-produce photorealistic color motifs long before color photography became economically feasible. The company specialized on postcards of American and European subjects, including cityscapes, reproductions of artwork, natural landmarks and folklore.

The best-known photographer for the company was William Henry Jackson, who joined the company in 1897. He became the plant manager in 1903, and in 1905 the company changed its name. By the time of World War I, the company faced declining sales both due to the war economy and the competition from cheaper, more advanced printing methods. The company declared bankruptcy in 1924 and was liquidated in 1932.

Most of the existing negatives and prints are now housed by the United States Library of Congress, which received them via the Edison Institute and the Colorado Historical Society in 1949. Most images are visible in digital form at the Library of Congress Web site. A large collection of photographic and photomechanical prints are also housed by the Beinecke Library at Yale University and are available for viewing online. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
Just a little old piece of paper that's been on quite a journey from creation until it reached my hands at an estate sale. Do click on the link above to the Beinecke Library. You'll see more lovely cards like this. In fact all of the links lead to some interesting information. Enjoy.


  1. I love all of the California missions. Your card really evokes the special quality of the missions. I find it hard to describe, but there is something truly magical.

  2. Did you click on the link to the Yale library? There is another photo there taken at San Juan Capistrano of two elderly men and a little girl in a big hat. It's STUNNING! I would love to find this card. And there are many of the Cliff House that are beautiful, especially one at night.

  3. Thanks for the info on Detroit Publishing Co. First heard of the Detroit Pub. co and its value to collectors at the Met museum exhibit of the Walker Evans postcard collection last year.

  4. This one also reminds me of the Presidio - it must be the color.

  5. Standard mission colors. Off white walls with red tile roofs. All over the state.