Vintage color photographs collected by Mike Shaughnessy

Amalfi

Budapest

Prague

Heidelberg

Salzburg

Matterhorn

Schwerin

Ebene

Austria

Florence

Kassel

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Pompeii

Madonna del Sasso

Appian Way

Pisa

Kayserberg

View the rest as a geocoded gallery

Images: Institute for Color Photography, Carl Weller, Berlin/Verlagsanstalt für Farbenfotographie, 1906.
Scans: Mike Shaughnessy.
Texture: devnureen
Design: Rob Beschizza.

46 Responses to “1906: vintage color photos of Europe”

  1. Anonymous says:

    These are photochroms. Photochroms are a continuous-tone, color photolithographic process created from black-and-white negatives. The process was invented in 1897.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I hate that in this age of Photoshop, I have to feel doubt about the authenticity of these. :(

  3. Glenn Fleishman says:

    I have been to the Madonna Del Sasso. It is a very strange baroque church overlooking Lago Maggiore in the Ticino canton of Switzerland. Gorgeous and strange, a long hike up or a ride on the funicular to get there. It looked the same in 1989 as it does in that 1909 picture.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Not the same perspective but here is a shot of the Charles bridge from earlier this year I made http://www.flickr.com/photos/dseroka/4885203313/

  5. Moriarty says:

    Just to be clear, these are definitely public domain images, right?

  6. IamInnocent says:

    Wonderful. :)
    It’s an especially great time to be a BB reader these last days.

    Weren’t tinted photos the HDRs of the time, just as revealing of all the details and of the subjectivity, and talent, of anyone who t(a)inted them; also just as heavily criticized, at the time?

  7. grimc says:

    Rob, you continue to rock this full browser layout thing.

  8. Anonymous says:

    fantastic!

  9. Anonymous says:

    It would be great to find out “just where” in “Austria” that fantasmagoric bridge is?
    If it still exists, it would be wonderful to ge visit it, or see contemporary pictures of it.

    I’d appreciate any tips as to the actual location of it.
    Thanks in advance, and thanks for posting those interesting pictures!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hi, all i have to say its superb. Get to know more photo retouching

  11. Anonymous says:

    I really Like these pictures .. well done

  12. Anonymous says:

    There is same photo Prague and Kayserberg … ???

  13. zikman says:

    wow. the photos are just as beautiful as the layout. thank you so much for this!

  14. Rob Beschizza says:

    If anyone knows more about the origins of these images, please get in touch.

  15. dwdyer says:

    The Leaning Tower of Pisa seems to be photobombing the other buildings.

  16. Ugly Canuck says:

    Hey I once took some time to peruse a volume of color photos from Czarist Russia which I found in the stacks of my local info-dump.

    It’s now out-of-print, but here’s a link to its Big river page:

    http://www.amazon.com/Photographs-Tsar-Mikhailovich-Prokudin-Gorskii-Commissioned/dp/0385271581/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1281540736&sr=8-3-fkmr0

    Personally, I like the absence of overhead wires and antennae in the city-scapes.
    And the streets of Kayserberg look like dry stream beds after a flood. But yet, I’m kinda sorry that my streets don’t look like that all the time.

  17. Alex_M says:

    The one labeled “Karlsaue” is actually mislabeled (probably in the original?). The picture is of the Hercules Monument located in Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, in Kassel, Germany. Karlsaue is a different park in Kassel.

    • verdecove says:

      I can confirm the image labeled with Kassel Karlsaue should actually be Bergpark Wilhelmshoehe and Herkules Monument. Kassel used to be my hometown until 4 years ago, when I moved to Texas.
      The Bergpark Wilhelmshoehe is besides of the Karlsaue one of the main attractions of Kassel and famous within Europe as Europe’s biggest Bergpark (Hill Park).

  18. hacky says:

    I Wish the exposures could have been short enough to show people. Also, these pictures look like Beirut (band) sounds.

    • Itsumishi says:

      There are people in some of the shots. Certainly the Austria one has 2 people standing on the bridge and the Pisa one has someone on the path.

      Lovely collection.

    • Anonymous says:

      Came for the band, but I checked out Beirut and now my visual journey is complete. AMAZING recommendation, love them!

  19. capl says:

    Thanks to BB reader Michael for directing me to a short history of the photography studio that produced this work. Dr. Peter Walther of the Brandenburg Literary office wrote the piece (in German) and has edited numerous works regarding early color photography in Germany.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I would love to see a now version of all of those photos, just to see how more beautiful the past was.

  21. gwailo_joe says:

    Kayserburg is rocky and decrepit. And what’s up with that pointy thing at the top of the golf course?

    In all seriousness: these photos are beautiful windows. . .I was just happy to find the Pisa Piazza and the Madonna del Sasso still stand (half thought two World Wars would of obliterated such delicate architecture). . .

    Real nice.

  22. lolbrandon says:

    These are some really nice, really amazing photos.

  23. NiceBloke says:

    What would be great, would be to see photos taken today from the same positions.

    • Cara D says:

      My thoughts exactly! Google image search the Madonna del Sasso for some cool comparisons. I didn’t see any pictures in the EXACT same location, but most of them are pretty close. All that’s really changed is the lawn care — it looks like the age of tourism has increased the demand for fresh paint and frequent weed-whacking.

      And most images of the Hercules Monument at Kassel are similar to the one in the post. Its cool to see how much the little shrubs around it have grown :)

  24. Rob Beschizza says:

    Tanks, Alex_M! Fixed that.

  25. SFedor says:

    Not to discount the beauty & history of these shots, how much post work was done on them? The clarity, saturation, and lack of damage just doesn’t seem to match the age. I think part of the charm of vintage ‘art’ is displaying how it aged.

    That being said, if these haven’t been manipulated heavily, do we know how they were preserved so well?

    A beautiful collection regardless of my above doubts.

  26. Anonymous says:

    It would be incredible if you could track down an image of Dresden.

  27. Rob Beschizza says:

    I took them right from Mike’s scans. The only thing I worked was some very visible damage on the Pisa one. You can see the original at the link.

    • SFedor says:

      That’s really impressive. If you hear anything regarding the type of prints these are and how they were preserved so well, please share.

      Awesome find

  28. Rob Beschizza says:

    If anything, Mike’s scans are even sharper and clearer — the ones here are sized down and smartblurred a smidgin to keep file sizes down.

  29. Rob Beschizza says:

    These are published under the belief that they have entered the public domain due to copyright expiration.

  30. Anonymous says:

    I visited Madonna del Sasso in 1997 and again in 2004. Very little has changed except for more development on the other side of Lake Maggiore. The cityscape of Florence is very recognizable.

  31. Rob Beschizza says:

    If anyone has any more information about the images and their copyright status, that would be much appreciated.

  32. Ugly Canuck says:

    …and contemplating these old color photos has put me in mind of an old Rolling Stones song (which it now feels I first heard, about a hundred years ago):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrciVFFw3iQ

  33. ERA says:

    So pleasantly free of the automobile, yet rail and motorboat are visible. The beautifully crafted architectural layering suggests the cycles of destruction and renewal and what a disaster motor vehicles have been to cities. Nostalgia…what the hell, the universe is one big love story and disaster flick.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Thank you. The photographs are beautiful.

  35. Ugly Canuck says:

    Hey it looks like the Boston Globe has an article about those old color photos of Czarist Russia, to which I alluded in my post above.
    Some nice photos there, too:

    http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/08/russia_in_color_a_century_ago.html

  36. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, that’s really really cool. Not only are these pictures stunning, but I can actually see my own house on the Geneva photo :-) (here: http://picasaweb.google.com/michaelryanshaughnessy/1906ScannedColorPhotosGISShaughnessy#5229595317073398210)

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