An American Odyssey


These rediscovered Photochrom and Photostint postcard images were produced by the Detroit  Photographic Company between 1888 and 1924. Using a photolithographic process they offered peoplethe very first color photographs of The United States. For the first time, America’s colors were available for all to see. The rich reds, yellows and browns of the Grand Canyon, the sand and sea dazzle of Atlantic City, became a visual delight not only for travelers, but for Americans everywhere.




Graphic designer, photographer and collector Marc Walter has amassed an extraordinary collection of photographs for TASCHEN’s new publication An American Odyssey. With them he creates a comprehensive picture of the new world in its earliest days, all ramshackle mining towns in the West, steam boats in New York’s harbor and the booming new industrial cities. The book has more than 600 pages including fold-out spreads, this sweeping panorama incorporates everything from Native American settlements to New York’s Chinatown, from some of the last cowboys to Coney Island’s heyday.



A photochrom is a color proof obtained by transferring a black and white photographic negative on numerous lithographic stones: one for each final wanted color. This was done using a specific new process, “the Photochrom process”, invented in 1889 by the Swiss Hans Jakob Schmidt, chief lithographer at the Orell Füssli printworks in Zurich.  The Photochrom process was brought to the Detroit Photographic Company by a technician who had worked for the Swiss company, Albert Schuler, in 1895–96. In the United States, it was marketed under the name of the “Aäc color photography process.”



The authors:

Marc Walter specializes in vintage travel photographs, particularly photochroms, of which he has one of the world’s largest collections. He has widely published books with images from his collection as well as his own photographs. Sabine Arqué is a documentarian, iconographer, and author. She has collaborated on numerous books on the subjects of travel, the history of tourism and photography.



This entry was posted in Books, Europe, History, Photography, USA and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to An American Odyssey

  1. Mira says:

    How very interesting! Thanks for this!

  2. Mira says:

    How are you able to post the images? Are they still in public domain even after the book was published? In fact, can such a book claim copyright for such images (postcards, etc.)?

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