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Regarding the "full color illustrations" in issues from the 1920s, does anyone know if those are actual color photographs or colorized B&W photos? Sometimes they look colorized to me, other times they look like actual color photos. Sometimes they even look like they could even be paintings based on photographs!

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It is both. Even before 1920, Prokudin-Gorsky did the colo photographs for the czar of Russia to show his empire.

John,

In my series of 100-year-old reviews, I have been documenting the photographs in each issue, noting if they are B&W photos, photogravures, colorized B&W photos, or actual color photos.  I started with the Jan. 1915 issue, and all color illustrations have been paintings, or colorized B&W photos up to the March 1921 issues which contains actual Autochrome color photographs.  Interestingly, the April 1921 issue has colorized B&W photos again.  There may have been color photos in issues before 1915, but the ones in the March 2021 issue are the oldest I've found.

Yours in Collecting,

Tom

Thanks for the info!  How do you know, though, what's what?

Mostly by eye.  The colorized B&W photos are very pastel and soft, with no bright colors or sharp edges.  Also, in the credits for the colorized pictures say things like: Photograph by So-and-so.  The credits for the color photos in the March 1921 issue specifically states: Autochrome by [the photographer].  Autochrome is an early color photography process.

Aha!  I was wondering what Autochrome was.  Also, Ektachrome.

John,

Here is the start of the Wikipedia entry for "Ektachrome":

 Ektachrome is a brand name owned by Kodak for a range of transparency, still, and motion picture films previously available in many formats, including 35 mm and sheet sizes to 11×14 inch size. Ektachrome has a distinctive look that became familiar to many readers of National Geographic, which used it extensively for color photographs for decades in settings where Kodachrome was too slow.

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