A Tour of the World in 1888

Hagia Sophia

Travel always brings up nostalgia – especially for places that were untouched by the internet and outside eyes. When you could actually explore and search out new territory no one had ever been to. What did people look like back then? What has changed? Now we know. So what did the world look like in 1888?

Thanks to a new exhibit, held at the Camera Museum in Vevey, Switzerland, we can now see in color what places like Venice, Morocco, Switzerland and Istanbul looked like. It is remarkable art show, containing colored pictures of famous tourist sites in 1888. Some are still recognizable, some not.

In the 1880s, Hans Jakob Schmid perfected a magnificent photographic colour printing process, called Photochrome. Starting from a black and white negative transferred onto as many lithographic stones as colours required in the final image, a subtly nuanced print was achieved at a time when colour photography was still only in its infancy.


world in 1888
The canals of Venice.

At that time, Hans Jakob Schmid worked at the Orell Füssli Printing Company in Zurich, which took out a patent for this process in 1888 and founded the company Photoglob Zürich (P.Z.), with the express purpose of marketing the images in very varied formats, up to 40×50 cm, which enjoyed an immediate success and well beyond Switzerland’s borders. The First World War and the arrival on the market of the first colour photography processes sounded the knell of Photochrome.


world in 1888
Berber traders in the Sahara.

The museum is displaying a sizeable collection of Photochromes, including large format views, sometimes panoramic, albums and various smaller collections, touristic pictures, which constituted a real invitation to travel across the world at the turn of the XIXth and XXth centuries.

The exhibit runs until August 21th, 2016. Time is running out – so go now! 

Check out more photos here:

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