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Pre-Photoshop When postcards are too good to be true

Photo archives of the publishing company Franco-Suisse show how some historic picture postcards scenes weren't perfect enough, and had to be adjusted. The archives were recently made available to the public online. 

The pictures hail from the period 1920 to 1970, and depict a Switzerland that in many respects no longer exists. 

Many of the postcards include touristy subjects that still figure in postcards today. But there’s more. There are pictures of less well-known villages in the Jura mountains and other outlying areas. Where today there are suburbs, we see intact landscapes with little traffic, and in winter, snow even at low altitudes.    

The Franco-Suisse archives also make it possible to follow the evolution of postcards from the initial picture to the final product. We can see how pictures were manipulated and retouched much before the advent of Photoshop. Unattractive telephone wires and unwanted people were removed, trees were covered with snow, and inappropriate backgrounds were replaced by panoramic views of the Alps. 

(Text: Gaby Ochsenbein/, photo editing: Ester Unterfinger/ 

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