Nicolaaskerk, Amsterdam. Library of Congress /

By Mark McConville

STUNNING postcards have revealed nineteenth century Netherlands in all its glory in striking colour.


Amsterdam Gate, Haarlem. Library of Congress /

The dazzling images show the country’s traditional wind mills at work, a spectacular arcade in Rotterdam and the National Monument of 1813 in Hague.


Two windmills. Library of Congress /

Other spectacular pictures show some of Holland’s glimmering canals including the famous Kolk canal in Amsterdam.


Old ZĂżds, the Kolk (canal), Amsterdam. Library of Congress /

The postcards are from 1890 and were created using the Photochrom process, a technique for applying lifelike colour to black-and-white images.

Photochrom is a method of producing colourised photographs from black and white negatives via the direct photographic transfer of a negative onto lithographic printing plates.


Arcade, Rotterdam. Library of Congress /

It was invented in the 1880s and was most popular in the 1890s, when these images were taken. Although true colour photography had been developed by then it was not commercially practical yet.


Windmills on the Noordendijk, Dordrecht. Library of Congress /

Photochrom reproductions became popular due to the craze with sending postcards.


Spanish quay, Rotterdam. Library of Congress /

Amsterdam’s famous Dam Square is also depicted with life as busy as ever in the country’s capital. People can be seen going about their business as several trams and horse and carts idle by.


Amsterdam Dam Square. Library of Congress /

Other images show everyday life in other parts the Netherlands around the turn of the century.


Velper Square, Arnhem. Library of Congress /

Velper Square in Arnhem shows people gathering on a sunny day with the church spire in the background. There is a similar scene in Nymegen as people make their way from the great market to the town hall for a meeting.