Postcard? Postcard? (3)

Posted by Oliver Eckl on

How did the color get on the postcards?

Then the Zurich lithographer Hans Jakob Schmid came along and invented the photochromic process for his employer Orell Füssli. The black and white negative was projected onto up to 16 light-sensitive stones, which were then printed in different colors. Because the color was transparent, an almost infinite number of color nuances could be generated with 16 stone slabs. The process won a gold medal at the Paris World Exhibition in 1900.

The photochromic prints showed the “warm life of reality,” enthused the NZZ. But the images were more, more real than real, so to speak: the blue of the rivers and lakes was bluer, the sky more dramatic, the women's cheeks rosier than we knew. This gave the images, which were now available inexpensively as postcards from all over the world, a very special, poetic magic.

Collect cards instead of sending them

Half of the postcards never saw the inside of a post office, but were sold directly to collectors. Until the First World War there was a real postcard mania. The Austrian writer Karl Kraus expressed concern that the “extremely degenerated postcard sport” was damaging to public health. The hobby was so widespread that in 1898 the well-known Berlin operetta composer Paul Lincke composed a “Card Collector’s March” for him.