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January 26, 2019

The Past in Focus: 200 Fascinating Vintage Travel Photographs Are Being Restored

Two-hundred obscure photographs that have been buried in archives around the world are being brought to new life by Diana Metzinger, a young woman from Cleveland, who is restoring the images for her crowdfunding project The Grand Tour which will be running until February 4th on Kickstarter.

Climbing Paradise Glacier in Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington, ca. 1911-1920. (Photo by Curtis & Miller/National Photo Company)

S.S. Paris, Ocean Liner, ca. 1890s. (Photo by John S. Johnston/Detroit Publishing Company Collection)

View of Venice, Italy, ca. 1890s. (Photochrom/Library of Congress)

One of the unrestored images: Railroad train at the Paris Exposition, 1889. (Tissandier Collection)

Traveling by reindeer, Archangel, Russia, ca. 1890s. (Detroit Publishing Company Collection)

Last year, she chose to unearth 100 rarely-seen historic images for a restoration project entitled The Past in Focus. This campaign received so much positive feedback from backers that Diana decided to release a second edition, as well as create this new project focusing strictly on travel photography. “The support I received from the Kickstarter community was tremendous and humbling, too. I never realized that so many people were interested in seeing these rare photos restored!”

Together, Diana and her sister Constance operate a small home-based business where they sell prints of historic photographs on Etsy. They often browse the digital collections of libraries from around the world and it was through one of these searches that Diana decided to launch The Past in Focus as a crowdfunding campaign for Kickstarter’s Make 100last year. Make 100 is a monthlong creative initiative focused on limited editions of 100.

The Rameseum of El-Kurneh, Thebes, 1857. (Photo by Francis Frith /The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

“There were so many beautiful photographs buried deep in these archives and I wanted all of them to be seen and appreciated by others. Restoration work in time-consuming though, so I decided that if the project was to get funded I would put our business on hold until I could complete the work.”

From The Past in Focus: The ship Garthsnaid weathering a storm, 1920. (National Library of New Zealand)

The project was indeed funded in less than 48 hours and the limited edition digital collections of The Past in Focus were sold out in three days. The new collection, The Grand Tour, was also funded in less than 48 hours, but there are various reward levels so that everyone can enjoy these sets, not just the select few who pledged early.

The beautiful images include scenes of exotic locales such as Bali, India, the Aconcagua Valley of Chile, Zanzibar, intrepid travelers climbing snow-covered mountain peaks, panorama landscapes, and rare color photochroms, most of them dating from 1870-1930, the “golden age” of travel.

Berigo, San Remo, Riviera, ca. 1890s. (Library of Congress)

A British tourist arriving in Sudan, Africa, 1936. (Matson Photo Service Collection)

Helsinki, ca.1900. (Photo by Gustaf Sandberg/The Society of Swedish Literature in Finland)

A View of New Zealand, ca. 1890-1910. (Photo by William Joseph Macpherson/State Library of New South Wales)

Diana digitally restores each of the photographs, removing scratches, dust and debris, repairing water damage, and making contrast and color adjustments before releasing them to the public. The 200 restored photographs are all in the public domain and are being offered as a collection of downloadable hi-res jpegs ($40) and also as individual 8”x10” prints ($15).



A few images from the second edition of The Past in Focus:

Delta Kappa Epsilon and Sigma Chi Girls, 1905. (Frank Snyder Photograph Collection)

Leigh Brintnell outside his Fokker Super-Universal airplane, 1935. (Provincial Archives of Alberta)

Dancing Lesson - The “Mazurka”, ca. late 1800s. (Photo by Karl Karlovitz Bulla/The J. Paul Getty Museum)

Lakeview of Detroit, Michigan, ca. 1910-1930. (Detroit Publishing Company Collection)




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