On the beach at Coney Island, 1902.
Sunshine, long days, trips to the mountains or beaches—we’re now well into the season many people anticipate long in advance of its arrival. A quick online search of the Library’s prints and photographs reveals that enthusiasm for the lazy days of summer is nothing new: the term “summer” elicits thousands of images dating from as long ago as the 18th century.
We’re featuring one such image, a 1902 view of the beach on Coney Island, intermittently on our home page this month. It shows a large crowd of children and adults—wearing significantly more attire than is the norm for beach-goers today—enjoying the sand and sun. Although the richly colored picture looks like a photograph, it is actually an ink-based photolithograph—or photochrom print.
The Library has more than 400 photochrom prints of sites in the United States—and thousands more of locations in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere. Hans Jakob Schmid (1856–1924), working for the Swiss firm Orell Füssli, invented the technique for making photochrom prints in the 1880s. It involves the direct photographic transfer of an original negative onto litho- and chromographic printing plates.
Even though the prints look deceptively like color photographs, when viewed with a magnifying glass, the small dots that make up the ink-based photomechanical image are visible. The photomechanical process permitted mass production of the vivid color prints. At a time when color photography was still rare, demand for them was high. Monochromatic prints were also issued, including a view of Pikes Peak in Colorado.
Pikes Peak, a monochromatic photochrom print.
Photochrom prints were sold at tourist sites and through mail order catalogs to globe trotters, armchair travelers, educators and others to preserve in albums or put on display. Produced between the late 1880s well into the 1900s, they reached the height of their popularity in the 1890s and early 1900s.
This post is by Emily Hauck, a summer intern in the Library’s Communications Office. A version of this post was first published in the Library of Congress Gazette. No matter how much you think you know about a topic, there is always more to discover. I found that out during my internship with the Library’s […]
This is a guest post by Karen Keninger, director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). The NLS has a couple years of adventures ahead of it—adventures that sound chiefly technological but are really about meeting our patrons’ needs as reliably, easily and responsibly as possible. Technology is exciting in […]
This is a guest post by Ryan Reft, a historian in the Library’s Manuscript Division. Teddy Roosevelt believed in the efficacy of war. For Roosevelt, the call to arms expressed national greatness and bold masculinity. Unsurprisingly, the former president loudly championed America’s entrance into World War I, often assailing President Wilson in the years and […]
Crowds gathered on the lawn of the Library’s Jefferson Building on July 13 to view “The Princess Bride,” undeterred by weather that was a little warm and humid, even for a Washington, D.C., summer evening. The outdoor screening kicked off a six-film series, “LOC Summer Movies on the Lawn,” showcasing modern classics that have been […]
This post by Margaret Wagner of the Library’s Publishing Office first appeared on “Teaching with the Library of Congress,” a blog that highlights the Library’s resources for K–12 teachers. Describe what you do at the Library and the materials you work with. I am a senior writer-editor in the Library of Congress Publishing Office, the […]
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced today that Denis Johnson, author of the critically acclaimed collection of short stories “Jesus’ Son” and the novel “Tree of Smoke,” will posthumously receive the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction during the 2017 Library of Congress National Book Festival, Sept. 2. The National Book Festival and the […]
This is a slightly abbreviated version of a post by Kristi Finefield, a reference librarian in the Prints and Photographs Division, first published on “Picture This,” the division’s blog. Check out Finefield’s original post for even more fantastic photographs of Wyoming by Carol M. Highsmith. Today, we turn our eyes to the wide open spaces […]
Ledward “Led” Kaapana delighted an audience in the Coolidge Auditorium on July 6 with traditional music from Hawaii. A master of the Hawaiian ukulele and slack key guitar, Kaapana has performed in Hawaii and beyond for more than 40 years, perpetuating the musical style and repertoire of his home village, Kalapana, in the southernmost district of […]
This is a guest post by Mark Hartsell, editor of the Library of Congress Gazette. The culture of working is a big part of what makes America America—men and women on the job, growing our food, teaching our children, burying our loved ones, building our homes, doing the things that make our society possible. Over […]