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Color Photographs

Although color photography for everyday use was not common until the mid-1900s, the technology was actually available much sooner. Autochrome plates, the first commercial color film, were developed in France in 1907. However, they were not marketed towards a mass audience, and it is extremely rare to find a color print from a date that early. Kodak began marketing Kodachrome film in 1935 and Kodacolor negative film in 1941. Still, these products predominantly served the professional photographer. Not until around 1963 was the average American family able to afford color film. During that year, Polaroid marketed the first instant color film, and Kodak introduced the Instamatic camera.

Although few photographs were taken with color film prior to the 1960s, many black and white photographs were hand colored. It is important to distinguish real color prints from hand colored prints. Notice the unusually rich colors in the image below. It is also possible to notice objects that have been colored outside the lines.

Hand-Colored Photograph

Hand-Colored Photograph: Image courtesy of the University of Vermont Landscape Change Program and Nancy Hayes

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