Cardinell Vincent Postcards

The Cardinell Vincent Postcards Collection is one of the best full sets of mission photographs ever produced. The photographs are unadorned early images rendered in sepia tone and were taken between the late 19th and early 20th century. The set of photographs was realized by the Cardinell-Vincent Company of San Francisco and showcases all twenty-one missions plus the Royal Presidio Chapel in Monterey, the San Antonio de Pala Asistencia and Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles. It is a full set of 24 cards with the missions listed in sequential order by location and the three other historic buildings placed at the end. In the image gallery below, you will find the mission postcards re-ordered by foundation date.

Santa Cruz and San Rafael Arcángel missions were in complete ruins at the time of completing the postcard collection, so it was decided to use 19th century paintings of the two missions. In the first decades of the 20th century, as the medium of photography was becoming more and more popular and interest in the old missions was increasing, many Companies offered postcards of the California missions. At first, the postcards were in black and white but soon many companies started to romanticize the images offering hand-tinted and bright colored images. The set of postcards were sold either in block or individually.

Notes on Cardinell Vincent Postcards

01 Postcard of San Diego de Alcalá: This image shows the mission before it was restored in 1931.

02 Postcard of San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo: The image shows the church with a new pitched room added in 1936 which it has been replaced by a curved roof similar to the one it had in the mission era.

03 Postcard of San Antonio de Padua: The view shows the mission after major restoration works were done between 1903 and 1908.

04 Postcard of San Gabriel Arcángel: After the mission era, San Gabriel became a parish church and was never abandoned.

05 Postcard of San Luis Obispo de Tolosa: This picture was taken shortly after a steeple and white siding were removed in 1934. The entrance to the mission was changed after a large town square, Mission Plaza, was built in 1970. There are now wide steps leading from the plaza up to the church entrance.

06 Postcard of San Francisco de Asís: The San Francisco de Asís chapel was built in 1791 and since then it has survived fires, earthquakes and other calamities for over two centuries.

07 Postcard of San Juan Capistrano: Restoration work by the Landmark Club in the 1890’s saved this mission.

08 Postcard of Santa Clara de Asís: The postcard shows the 4th church built on the site in 1825. The postcard is based on a 19th century painting. The 1825 Santa Clara church was destroyed by fire in 1926. Today, a tasteful modern interpretation of the original church stands on the site.

09 Postcard of San Buenaventura: This image shows the church after a misguided “modernization” in 1893 was reversed and the church restored to its original appearance.

10 Postcard of Santa Barbara: This mission has been continually occupied by Franciscans since it was founded in 1786.

11 Postcard of La Purísima Concepción: Until the mission was restored (during the years 1934-1942), the mission was a captivating ruin, as depicted in this early 20th century view.

12 Postcard of Santa Cruz: The Santa Cruz church was destroyed in an 1857 earthquake and a modern church was erected on the site. The mission chapel of today was not built until 1931. This view shows how the mission looked during the mission era based on a 19th century painting.

13 Postcard of Nuestra Señora de la Soledad: This mission lay abandoned and neglected for over a century until it was restored in two stages beginning in 1954.

14 Postcard of San José: The postcard shows the mission ruins in the late 19th century before restoration works started.

15 Postcard of San Juan Bautista: This view shows the mission as it looked in early decades of 20th century. The present two-tiered campanario (belfry) was added in 1976.

16 Postcard of San Miguel Arcángel: This mission has undergone a series of restorations in 1901, 1928 and between 2004 and 2009. It is one of the most authentic in the mission chain.

17 Postcard of San Fernando Rey de España: This mission was restored in 1916 but had to be rebuilt again after an earthquake in 1971.

18 Postcard of San Luis Rey de Francia: The image portraits the mission at the end of the 19th century. Restoration began after a Franciscan Novitiate was established on the site in 1893.

19 Postcard of Santa Inés Virgen y Mártir: This mission was never fully abandoned and became the site of California’s first seminary.

20 Postcard of San Rafael Arcángel: At the time the Cardinell-Vincent postcards were produced, San Rafael was in complete ruins and not much remained of the mission. It was then decided to use this 19th century painting. In 1919, a reduced-scale replica chapel was built.

21 Postcard of San Francisco de Solano: This mission church was restored in 1903 retaining much of the appearance of the parish church built in 1840.

22 Postcard of Church Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles: Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles is located in the old-town section of the California’s largest city. At the beginning, Missionaries from San Gabriel, located some nine miles away, came here to administer religious services for the pueblo of Los Angeles.

23 Postcard of Asistencia San Antonio de Pala: The asistencia of San Antonio de Pala was a sub-mission of San Luis Rey and was restored in 1916.

24 Postcard of Royal Presidio Chapel of Monterey: Monterey was the site of a presidio and became the headquarters of Alta California during most of the mission era.