These incredible color postcards of 1890 Switzerland are anything but neutral

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Vispach Bridge and the Matterhorn, Valais.

Image: Library of Congress

These pictures of the sublime landscapes and stately towns of Switzerland were created using the Photochrom process, a technique for applying color to monochrome images with nuance and precision.

Invented in Switzerland by an employee of a printing company, Photochrom was a time-consuming and delicate process.

First, a tablet of lithographic limestone would be coated with a light-sensitive emulsion, placed under a photo negative and exposed to sunlight for several hours.

The emulsion would then harden in proportion to the tones of the negative. The softer portions would be removed with a solvent, leaving a fixed lithographic image on the stone. Read more…

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