A full spread coffee-table colored photo e-book of the Holy Land as seen at the beginning of the 20th century. Thousands of pilgrims and tourists walked and rode the "Pilgrimage Route" of the Holy Land in the second half of the 19th century…. Christians, Jews and visitors of all denominations, inspired by the Bible and the Holy Scriptures, looked forward to an exciting and spiritual visit; however, the reality was harsh and disappointing…… Nevertheless, most visitors tried to ignore the daily inconveniences and to imagine the place as the Land of the Bible…. In order to preserve these memories and carry them back home, tourists and pilgrims purchased souvenirs such as photo and picture albums, postcards and olive-wood articles. The "Imberger Album" was one of the better souvenirs offered on the market…. The postcard size album comprised twenty-nine colored photos of historic sites and scenes in the Holy Land… Its small dimensions and superb quality were simply outstanding. Readers of this book are invited to go back in time to the beginning of the 20th century and virtually follow the Pilgrimage Route in the Holy Land… In this electronic edition, a detailed caption is included with each album picture, with additional pictures or photos depicting the same site as photographed today or as painted at the turn of the century by Orientalist artists.
Introduction: Here is the story of a touristic picture album published in 1906 by the Imberger brothers, traders living in the German Templer colony of Jerusalem. The postcard size album comprised twenty-nine colored photos of historic sites and scenes in the Holy Land.
Thousands of pilgrims and tourists walked and rode the “Pilgrimage Route” of the Holy Land in the second half of the 19th century. Starting in Jaffa, the road led to Jerusalem, continued to Bethlehem, Hebron, down to Jericho and the Jordan River. The northern route followed the mountain ridge to Nablus and the Valley of Jezreel, climbing to Nazareth and descending to Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee. The visit lasted two to three weeks, while most of the time was spent in Jerusalem and its environs.
Christians, Jews and visitors of all denominations, inspired by the Bible and the Holy Scriptures, looked forward to an exciting and spiritual visit; however, the reality was harsh and disappointing. Under Ottoman rule, the country was desolate and neglected; its historic sites, partly in ruin, were both dirty and forbidding. Roads were bad maintained and transportation was mostly on horseback. The standards of living in the Holy Land were far below anything experienced by travellers coming from Europe and the United States. Nevertheless, most visitors tried to ignore the daily inconveniences and to imagine the place as the Land of the Bible. Women dressed in Oriental garb carrying water jars on their head, the peasant in the field handling a wooden plough harnessed to a pair of oxen, the boy guarding his family sheep — all were images out of the Bible and stories from the Scriptures. In order to preserve these memories and carry them back home, tourists and pilgrims purchased souvenirs such as photo and picture albums, postcards and olive-wood articles. The “Imberger Album” was one of the better souvenirs offered on the market by agile vendors. Its small dimensions and superb quality were simply outstanding.
With the exception of a brief notice: “Friedrich and Christian Imberger, Jerusalem”, the original publishers left no clue as to when the album was designed and printed or by whom. A comparative visual study and the accidental finding of the printer’s cachet in another copy of the same album revealed the story of the “Imberger Album” — a fascinating story about art, printing techniques and doing business in the beginning of the 20th century.
August Trüb (1844-1922) was a photographer, an artist and a shrewd businessman. His studio and printing shop in Aarau, Switzerland pioneered quality prints in color, a rare profession at that time. Trüb identified and targeted the growing business of tourism, specifically the niche of picture albums and postcards in color. Equipped with photography equipment, an aquarelle pad, brushes and water colors, Trüb travelled in Europe and later in the Middle East creating business opportunities for his color print studio. He took pictures of popular sites and scenes on glass photo plates which he’d prepared in advance, and would develop the exposed plates that same night. Every photo taken in black and white was also backed up by an aquarelle painted by Trüb. The aquarelle painting would subsequently serve his studio print technicians during the tedious process of adding color to the black and white photo negatives. The portfolio of his photographs was offered to local publishers as part of a “package deal” — a set of selected photos to be printed by Trüb’s studio.
Trüb visited the Holy Land in the spring of 1903 and prepared a portfolio of approx. one hundred photos. The usual deal was offered to the Imberger brothers in Jerusalem, and they proceeded to place an order with Trüb for several hundred colored photo albums and a large series of color postcards.
In an era when photography was only in black and white, lithographic printing of photos in color was a complex and tedious manual process performed by a team of trained technicians. Every photo negative was copied to a dozen or more photosensitive printing stone plates, each being worked masterfully to represent one color hue out of black, red, yellow, blue, light blue, rose, dark brown, pink, grey, light grey and more. Printing was done on a hand-operated horizontal press. Paper sheets were printed one after the other with the proper color of ink being smeared onto the plate between each sheet. Once all copies of the first color had been printed, a plate for the second color was inserted in the press and the process began all over again. After about three hundred copies, the plates lost some of their quality, so the studio followed with printed postcards, this time using only eight different colors. The use of the same plates to first print the album and later to produce postcards justified the great cost of the project.
The Imberger brothers sold the album and postcards in their family shop situated just outside the Jaffa Gate until the end of 1917, when the British occupied Jerusalem. The Studio of August Trüb used the same Holy Land photo negatives to print a series of eighty color postcards published early in the 1920s of the last century. Some of those postcards were identical to “Imberger album” pictures.