Photochrome prints of ships

Photochrom is a process for creating color images based on black-and-white photographs. It was developed around 1880 and mainly used for printing postcards. There are, however, also hundreds of beautiful photochrome prints of sailing boats, steamboats, ferries, and other ships. Below is a personal selection of old cards and pictures created between 1880 and 1910.

Old postcard of a sailing ship
The ‘Impregnable’ training ship – Plymouth, England

The Victory played a decisive role in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The English fleet defeated its Franco-Spanish enemies but during the action Admiral Lord Nelson was fatally wounded. Nowadays the ship can still be visited in Portsmouth’s Royal Naval Dockyard.

Old postcard of the Victorious flagship of admiral Nelson
The ‘Victory’, Admiral Nelson’s flagship – Portsmouth, England

Since there are so many beautiful photochrome pictures of ships in harbors, there is a separate page showing old postcards of harbors.

Old postcard of the harbour of Naples
The harbor of Naples – Italy

The SMY Hohenzollern II was the second Royal Yacht of the German Emperor Wilhelm II.  Most of the over four years that he spent on board were during prolonged trips to the Fjords of Norway. This Imperial Yacht was in use from 1893 to 1914.

Old postcard of a yacht
 The SMY Hohenzollern II leaving the port -Venice, Italy

Less luxurious…

Old postcard of the Lydia steamer
The Lydia – England

… to not luxurious at all.

Old postcard of a steam ferry
A steam ferry in the Lake District – Windermere, England

Norddeutscher Lloyd’s ‘Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse’ made her maiden voyage from Bremerhaven to New York on 19 September 1897. She was the first ship on which the entire upper deck was used for cabin passenger accommodation. The crew’s quarters were placed on the maindeck below. The  ‘Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse’  became the first passenger ship sunk during World War I.

Interior of a luxurious passenger ship
 The smoking cabin of the ‘Kaiser Wilhelm’ steamer

These postcards always show the way wealthy people traveled, not the overcrowded quarters of the commoners.

old postcard showing luxurious cruises
The promenade deck of the steamer ‘Kaiserin Maria Theresia’

Photochrome prints of Egypt are fascinating, and the image below is among my favorite.

postcard of Nile at Cairo, Egypt
A sailboat on the Nile at Cairo

The USS Texas, built in 1892, was the first battleship of the U.S. Navy. It is a so-called pre-dreadnought ship, meaning that it was built shortly before the revolutionary British HMS Dreadnought (1906). That ship used heavier, centrally mounted guns and steam turbine engines.

old postcard of a steam powered battleship
The battleship USS Texas

Paddle steamers were still in use in this era but I only found a few images of them.

historic photograph of a paddle steamboat
‘City of Erie’ from the Cleveland-Buffalo Line
old postcard of paddle steamer
The Columbia river below the Cascades

Can’t get enough of these historical photographs?  Admire additional photochroms of North America, England, Ireland and the European continent.

old postcard of the Chicago river with grain elevators
Loading grain on the Chicago river – USA

2 thoughts on “Photochrome prints of ships

  1. I am interested in using one of these images in a logo I am creating for the Port of Port Townsend, WA. Can you please advise me of commercial copyright? Specifically, “the harbor of Naples, italy.” Thanks for your help!

    1. You can find the original version on the Wikimedia site, which regarding the copyright states: “This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1926.”

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