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An American Odyssey: First colour postcards of the ‘New World’ from the end of the 19th century

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An American Odyssey : First colour postcards of the ‘New World’ from the end of the 19th century
By Sarah Gordon

These postcards are the first colour photographs taken of the New World, capturing the majesty of the American landscape, from buzzing city scenes to the dramatic Grand Canyon.
Dating back to the late 19th century and early 20th century, they have been released from a private collection especially to celebrate travel through the US in a book entitled An American Odyssey.
The photographs were taken between 1888 and 1924 and were made into postcards celebrating cities, landscapes and everyday life across the country.
Many of the images are produced using a photochrom process, taking black and white negatives and filling them with colour by transferring them onto lithographic printing stones.
Another process used was phostint, a way of tinting black and white and sepia images which was used by companies – including what was then known as the London Daily Mail – to print colour postcards of important events, such as scenes from the First World War.
These spectacular postcards are from a private collection amassed by graphic designer, photographer, and collector Marc Walter. He specialises in vintage travel photographs and has one of the world’s largest collections.
These particular images were produced by the Detroit Photographic Company at the turn of the century, combining landscapes with human interest images for city dwellers, immigrants and even gold rushers and the last Wild West cowboys.
The 612-page hardback book, published by Taschen, is a celebration of America and is considered a journey through its later 19th and early 20th-century landscapes and will go on sale for £135.
Photos include a busy city scene on the busy thoroughfare of Mulberry Street in New York, while another contrasts dramatically, capturing the rural life of a Seminole Indian family sailing in their dugout canoes in Florida.
Magnolia Plantation, on the Ashely River in Charleston, is brought to life with the application of colour to the image, while the Grand Canyon is also shown shimmering with colour.
Transport is also a leading theme in the postcards, featuring spectacular train journeys crossing Clear Creek Canyon, on Georgetown Loop in Colorado and the Mount Lowe Railway, on the circular bridge in California.
Tourists can still ride on the Georgetown Loop railways, experiencing what life was like during the gold rush era, when everyone was trying to make their fortune.
And spectacular National Parks such as the Grand Canyon still draw crowds, with millions of visitors every year.
Source: Mail Online

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