Photoglob-Wehrli archive

Growth in tourism led to a boom in the production of picture postcards at Photoglob & Co., which in 1924 merged with the publisher Wehrli to become Photoglob-Wehrli & Co. AG. The archive in the NL consists of photographic documents from all stages of production, spanning the period from 1897 to 1970, and providing a comprehensive picture of Swiss places and landscapes.

Wehrli Zürich
Zurich, view from St. Peter’s Church steeple towards the lake and the Alps (Wehrli archive, c. 1905)

In the mid-19th century, the construction of infrastructure such as railways and hotels sparked a surge in travel. This went hand-in-hand with the boom in picture postcard production in Switzerland. The company Photochrom & Co. was founded in Zurich in 1889. It sold reproductions of paintings and pictures depicting tourist attractions. In 1895 the company merged with the collotype printers Schroeder & Co. to become Photoglob & Co. AG, specialising from then on in black and white picture postcards.

In 1924 the company merged with rival publisher Gebrüder Wehrli, which had made a name for itself in Kilchberg since 1895, to become Photoglob-Wehrli & Co. AG. In 1928, the Geneva-based picture publisher Vouga was also acquired. Since 1974, the company has been known simply as Photoglob AG.

After transitioning to the production of colour postcards, Photoglob AG handed over the documents on all production stages of black and white postcards to the Federal Archives of Historic Monuments (FAHM) as a permanent deposit. When the FAHM became part of the Swiss National Library’s Prints and Drawings Department in 2007, the deposit was turned into a donation. The copyright was also transferred to the NL at the same time.   

Content and scope

Documents on all stages of black and white picture postcard production by Photoglob AG from the period from 1889 to around 1970:

  • More than 160,000 image units, including 105,000 from the Photoglob holdings, 43,468 from the Photoglob-Wehrli holdings, and 13,000 from the holdings of Photoglob-Zaugg, -Sartori and -Bachmann. The archive also includes 133 vintage prints by aviation pioneer Eduard Spelterini
  • Glass and plastic negatives, predominantly in the formats 13 x 18 cm and 18 x 24 cm
  • Picture postcards (silver bromide cards)
  • Vintage prints
  • 264 sample albums for selecting designs for the printing of picture postcards
  • Register books, negative control books, flight logs, original publisher pouches containing sample cards and production data on individual archive holdings  

Research and access

  • The Photoglob-Wehrli archive is described and partially catalogued in the HelveticArchives database
  • 13,000 high-definition images produced by Gebrüder Wehrli are freely available on WikimediaCommons
  • Further information on the Photoglob-Wehrli archive available on request
  • Consultation of originals: on site and by appointment

Last modification 22.04.2024

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