These amazing postcards depict the Princely County of Tyrol, an mountainous region of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The pictures were created using the Photochrom process, a revolutionary procedure that consists of producing ink-based images through the direct photographic transfer of an original negative onto litho and chromographic printing plates.
Hans Jakob Schmid (1856-1924), who worked for the Swiss firm Orell Füssli, invented the technique in the 1880s. The prints look deceptively like color photographs. But when viewed with a magnifying glass the small dots that comprise the ink-based photomechanical image are visible.
The photomechanical process permitted mass production of the vivid color prints. Each color in the final print required a separate asphalt-coated lithographic stone, usually a minimum of six stones and often more than ten stones.
Tyrol is a historical region in the Alps—in Northern Italy and western Austria. The area was historically the core of the County of Tyrol, part of the Holy Roman Empire, Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary, from its formation in the 12th century until 1919.
In 1919, following World War I and dissolution of Austria-Hungary, it was divided into two modern administrative parts through the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye: State of Tyrol: formed through the merger of North and East Tyrol, as part of Austria; Region of Trentino-South Tyrol was seized in 1918 by the Kingdom of Italy, and thus since 1946 part of the Italian Republic.
The whole region of Tyrol is located in the Alps. Important rivers in Tyrol are the Adige, Inn and Drau. The region is characterized by many valleys. Some of these valleys are still difficult to reach today. The most important valleys are the Inn Valley and Adige Valley.
A large part of the population lives in these two valleys and also the five largest cities of Tyrol (Innsbruck, Bolzano, Trento, Merano and Rovereto) lie in these valleys.
For centuries, the region has been known for transit trade. The most important trade route across the Alps, namely the Brenner Route, traverses the whole of Tyrol and is regarded as a connecting link between the Italian and German speaking areas.
(Photo credit: Library of Congress).