These rediscovered Photochrom and Photostint postcard images from the private collection of Marc Walter were produced by the Detroit Photographic Company between 1888 and 1924. Using a photolithographic process that predated the autochrome by nearly 20 years, they offered people the very first color photographs of the United States. Suddenly, the continent’s colors were available for all to see. From the rich ochres and browns of the Grand Canyon to the dazzle of Atlantic City, these places were now a visual delight not only for eyewitnesses but for Americans far and wide.
Imbued with a sense of discovery and adventure, the pictures gathered here are a voyage through peoples, places, and time. They take us through North America’s vast and varied landscape, where we encounter its many communities, and above all transport us back to the United States of over a century ago. Across more than 600 pages including fold-out spreads, this sweeping panorama takes us from Native American settlements to New York’s Chinatown, from some of the last cowboys to Coney Island’s heyday. As luminous now as they were some 120 years ago, these rare and remarkable images that brought America to Americans now bring America’s past to our present.