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West Coast: The painted west


Long before there were smartphones and filters, photos were colored by hand. We show some of the most precious linen postcards from the middle of the 20th century.

BIG SUR COAST HIGHWAY, Big Sur, California, 1933
EDWIN NATURAL BRIDGE, San Juan County, Utah, 1940
TOWN AND DESERT APARTMENTS, Palm Springs, California, 1948
AQUAPLANING, Santa Catalina Island, California, 1935
RAINBOW BRIDGE, Rainbow Natural Bridge National Monument, Utah, 1943
Giant Hanger, Moffett Field, California, 1943
SPEEDWAY, Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, 1951
GOLD RUSH, Skagway, Alaska, 1937
CIVIC STADIUM, Portland, Oregon, 1930
TROUT CREEK, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, 1935
LIFT BRIDGE, Sacramento, California, 1943
BRIDGE TOWER, San Francisco, California, 1937
SAN FRANCISCO, San Francisco, California, 1938
FREMONT STREET, Las Vegas, Nevada, 1954
Wolfgang Wagener, Leslie Erganian: "New West", Hirmer Verlag

It's not that people have been cranking out Instagram-like pictures since Instagram. The illustrated postcards from the picture book New West in their exaggerated coloring remind of smartphone photos with fancy filters. Only in the thirties and forties was it much more difficult to make such pictures: a linen-covered cardboard was printed with a black-and-white photograph and then colored by hand. The things were expensive and actually too valuable to send by mail. They show not only classic postcard motifs, but also everyday scenes, such as a football game or an afternoon at the pool. And the city of San Francisco looks so overpriced on the maps that they probably like pinned locals to the fridge too.

Source: zeit

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