Lonely Planet Writer

See 19th-century Netherlands in colour with these Photochrom postcards

Stunning postcards have revealed nineteenth century Netherlands in all its glory in striking colour.

Amsterdam Dam Square.
Amsterdam’s Dam Square.

The dazzling images show the country’s traditional windmills at work, a spectacular arcade in Rotterdam and the National Monument of 1813 in Hague.

The Oude Gracht Hamburgerbrug, Utrecht.
The Oude Gracht Hamburgerbrug, Utrecht.

Other spectacular pictures show some of Holland’s glimmering canals including the famous Kolk canal in Amsterdam.

Two windmills in the Netherlands.
Two windmills in the Netherlands.

The postcards are from 1890 and were created using the Photochrom process, a technique for applying lifelike colour to black-and-white images.

Velper Square, Arnhem.
Velper Square, Arnhem.

Photochrom is a method of producing colourised photographs from black and white negatives via the direct photographic transfer of a negative onto lithographic printing plates.

Ruins of Brederode, Santpoort.
Ruins of Brederode, Santpoort.

It was invented in the 1880s and was most popular in the 1890s, when these images were taken. Although true colour photography had been developed by then it was not yet commercially practical.

Coolvest, Rotterdam.
Coolvest, Rotterdam.

Photochrom reproductions became popular due to the craze with sending postcards. Amsterdam’s famous Dam Square is also depicted with life as busy as ever in the country’s capital. People can be seen going about their business as several trams and horse and carts idle by.

Arcade, Rotterdam.
Arcade, Rotterdam.

Other images show everyday life in other parts the Netherlands around the turn of the century. Velper Square in Arnhem shows people gathering on a sunny day with the church spire in the background. There is a similar scene in Nijmegen as people make their way from the great market to the town hall for a meeting.

(Media Drum World)