Amazing Colorized Postcards Capture Early 1900s China

By Bridget O'Donnell, January 9, 2016

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Earlier this week the New York Library released a massive collection of 180,000 photos previously available only in its New York City locations. Among them was a set of rare colorized postcards from China in the early 1900s.

Amazing Colorized Postcards Capture Early 1900s China "Street Life in Peking." 1921. (Hartung's Photo Shop/New York Public Library)

Amazing Colorized Postcards Capture Early 1900s China "Comic Laughters." 1910-1919. (Mee Cheung/New York Public Library)

According to Asia Society:

The images — colorized from black and white photos though photocrom or handpainting processes — were developed by European publishers to be sold as postcards to foreign visitors. In 1911, the Xinhai Revolution marked the end of China's last imperial dyansty (the Qing) and began the Republican era, which lasted until the foundation of the People's Republic in 1949. Around this time, foreign tourists and long-term expatriates poured into the country. The surrounding context and precise date of many photos have been lost to time, so they are presented here only with their original title, publisher, and approximate year of origin.

Amazing Colorized Postcards Capture Early 1900s China
"Farmer." 1910-1919. (Mee Cheung, Swatow/New York Public Library)

Amazing Colorized Postcards Capture Early 1900s China
"Street Vendors, Peking." 1907-1918. (New York Public Library)

Amazing Colorized Postcards Capture Early 1900s China
"Chinese Saw Mill." 1913. (Chrom. Edit. Kingshill - Shanghai/New York Public Library)

Amazing Colorized Postcards Capture Early 1900s China
"Hongkew Market, Shanghai." 1907-1918. (Young Photo Co. Nanking Road Shanghai-printed in Germany/New York Public Library)

Amazing Colorized Postcards Capture Early 1900s China
"Chang Ji-Men, Outer City Wall, Peking." 1915-1930. (Librairie Francaise-Pekin-Chine/New York Public Library)

Amazing Colorized Postcards Capture Early 1900s China
"Street in Peking." 1908. (New York Public Library)

Amazing Colorized Postcards Capture Early 1900s China
"Shanghai, Nanking Road." 1907-1918. (Chrom. Edit. Kingshill - Shanghai/New York Public Library)

Amazing Colorized Postcards Capture Early 1900s China
"Chinese Planting Rice." 1913. (Chrom. Edit. Kingshill - Shanghai/New York Public Library)

Amazing Colorized Postcards Capture Early 1900s China
"A Chinese Tea and Cake Party." 1908. (M. Sternberg, Hongkong/New York Public Library)

Amazing Colorized Postcards Capture Early 1900s China
"Transporting Tea in Chests for Export." 1910-1919. (New York Public Library)

Amazing Colorized Postcards Capture Early 1900s China
"Barber in the Street, Shanghai." 1907-1918. (Young Photo Co. Nanking Road Shanghai-printed in Germany/New York Public Library)

Amazing Colorized Postcards Capture Early 1900s China
"Travelling on Wheel Barrow in Shanghai." 1921. (Kamogawa & Co. Shanghai/New York Public Library)

Amazing Colorized Postcards Capture Early 1900s China
"Life on a Sampan." 1904. (Hongkong Pictorial Postcard Co./New York Public Library)

Amazing Colorized Postcards Capture Early 1900s China
"In Front of a Chinese Temple." 1910-1919. (Chrom. Edit. Kingshill, Shanghai. No. 136/New York Public Library)

Amazing Colorized Postcards Capture Early 1900s China
"Chair." 1907-1918. (New York Public Library)

Amazing Colorized Postcards Capture Early 1900s China
"Two Little Maids in China." 1907-1918. (American Baptist Foreign Mission Society/New York Public Library)

[Images from the New York Public Library via Asia Society]

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