17 March 2009

Library of Congress Photos at Flickr Commons

There's a gorgeous set of photo-lithographs over at the Library of Congress's photostram at Flickr Commons. Most of these were taken and published between the 1890s and 1910s.

The description at flickr:

Published primarily from the 1890s to 1910s, these prints were created by the Photoglob Company in Z├╝rich, Switzerland, and the Detroit Publishing Company in Michigan. The richly colored images look like photographs but are actually ink-based photolithographs, usually 6.5 x 9 inches.

Like postcards, the photochroms feature subjects that appeal to travelers, including landscapes, architecture, street scenes, and daily life and culture. The prints were sold as souvenirs and often collected in albums or framed for display.

The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division assembled its collection from two sources that provided prints in mint condition. In 1985, the prints of Europe and the Middle East were purchased from the Galerie Muriset in Switzerland. In 2004, Howard L. Gottlieb generously donated the North American views.

Additional photochroms can be found in the online collections of the Zurich Central Library, www.zb.unizh.ch/ and other archives.

It doesn't sound particularly sexy, but the photos are incredible. If you are at all visually oriented, mosey on over to the collection and check it out. Bonus: images are copyright-free.

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