Asia Society: 19 Colorized Postcards from Early 1900s China


Asia Society:

On January 5, the New York Public Library released a cache of 180,000 digitized public domain images previously only available in its New York City locations. Among them were colorized photographs from around China in the early 20th century.

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.

160108_china1a“Transporting Tea in Chests for Export.” 1910-1919

160108_china2a“Farmer.” 1910-1919

160108_china3a“Chinese Planting Rice.” 1913

160108_china4a“Chinese Saw Mill.” 1913

160108_china5a“Street in Peking.” 1908

160108_china6a“Shanghai, Nanking Road.” 1907-1918

160108_china8a“Street Scene in Chinese City.” 1907-1918

160108_china9a“Street Life in Peking.” 1921

160108_china10a“Chang Ji-Men, Outer City Wall, Peking.” 1915-1930

160108_china11a“In Front of a Chinese Temple.” 1910-1919

160108_China12a“Two Little Maids in China.” 1907-1918

160108_china13a“A Chinese Tea and Cake Party.” 1908

160108_china14a“Life on a Sampan.” 1904 (Hongkong Pictorial Postcard Co.)

160108_china15a“Hongkew Market, Shanghai.” 1907-1918

160108_china17a“Barber in the Street, Shanghai.” 1907-1918

160108_china18a“Travelling on Wheel Barrow in Shanghai.” 1921

160108_china19a“Chair.” 1907-1918

160108_china20a“Street Vendors, Peking.” 1907-1918



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