By MICHAEL BUSHNELL
April 16, 2014
This panoramic post card of downtown Kansas City, MO. looking east from Broadway, was copyrighted by G.H. Otto in 1899, just a year after picture post cards became legal for personal use.
Strict postal regulations had formerly prevented the issue of private postcards to protect the sales of government cards, legalized in 1873. An act of Congress on May 4, 1898, legalized the use of personal post cards and allowed the same message privileges and rates as the government ones. They were to be approximately the same size, quality and weight and were to be inscribed “Private Mailing Card.”
Otto’s cards were labeled “Greetings From Kansas City.” They were artist’s sketches lithographed in black and white with red highlights on the many brick buildings, green for grass and trees, and a bit of blue for sky. Shown in the center of the card above are two buildings still standing on Ninth Street, the New York Life at Baltimore and the New England building at Wyandotte.
On the back of the post card, designated for “address exclusively” is this information: “Private Mailing Card. Authorized by Act of Congress, May 4th, 1898.” City directories from 1898 list Gustav H. Otto as a clerk at the First National Bank, with a residence of 408 Aldine Place. The First National Bank’s location at this time was north of the junction at 726 Main St. In 1900 Otto was listed as a bookkeeper for Ladd-Penny-Swazey Live Stock Commission Co.; in 1901 as bookkeeper for the Charles Knapp Hardware Company.