The collections of the Prints & Photographs Division of the Library of Congress include thousands of photochroms. These early color prints were photomechanically reproduced so they weren’t photographs in the traditional sense. I spent some time looking through the photochroms, most of which date from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, while working on a Flickr album of images of mirrors and reflections.
Neither a color photograph nor a hand colored image, a photochrom was made by combining the photographic process with the lithographic process. A black-and-white negative was transferred to a lithographic stone or plate. Each color of the photochrom required a separate stone. If the photochrom included four colors, four stones were needed to make the finished product.
I found many fantastic reflections that I didn’t use in the album. Enjoy a few of them below:
Photochroms were sold at tourist sites and through mail order catalogs. As you have seen, the Library’s collection includes both foreign and domestic views.
- Explore the Photochrom Print Collection in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.
- Read about the photochrom process.
- Revisit an earlier Picture This blog post about photochroms of buildings that no longer exist.
- See a Flickr album featuring photos and prints of Mirrors & Reflections.