The first time Sumner McKane mentioned publicly he was making a movie about old postcards, someone in the audience groaned, “Oh, no.” McKane could only laugh. He understood. A filmmaker, musician and historian, he was underwhelmed with the idea himself. He only agreed to spend time with the collection of early-20th-century black-and-white postcards as a favor to a friend at the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, which owns the collection. He didn’t think it would lead to anything. Instead, his reluctant dive into the museum’s vast collection of glass-plate negatives from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Co. opened a time capsule to a century ago and led to McKane’s third feature-length film, “The Northeast by Eastern.”
These postcards from the Detroit Publishing Company capture the natural grandeur of Switzerland at a time when true color photography was still in its infancy. These pictures of the sublime landscapes and stately towns of Switzerland were created using the Photochrom process, a technique for applying color to monochrome images with nuance and precision.