Emilio and Roberto Eichenberger

Emilio Eichenberger

Postcards bearing the imprint of Emilio Eichenberger, from Switzerland, appear as early as 1900. The cards resemble half of a stereo view, with the image printed on the left side and the right left empty for writing a message. At least 60 cards comprise a series of individual and group portraits entitled "Tipo de Indio" or "Indios," most of whom are not specifically identified by ethnic community. Posed in front of a painted backdrop with all the formality of a European photography studio, the subjects were probably paid to sit for their photographs, which were sold commercially. The original portraits were taken on glass plates, and one can read "Giron, Fot." in reverse print on some of the images.

When postal authorities allowed written messages on the back of postcards, the image was allowed to fill the front side. Eichenberger issued a numbered series that includes general views, along with photographs of the damage caused by devastating earthquakes in 1917-18. (Damage from the 1773 earthquake that nearly destroyed Antigua is still visible.) The postmarks on these divided-back cards date from the 1930s and 1940s.


Roberto Eichenberger O.

According to the Eichenberger family web site, Roberto Eichenberger O. was born in Guatemala in 1902, attended the Agfaphoto Schule in Berlin in the 1920s, and freelanced for National Geographic magazine. His black and white real photo postcards were printed on Kodak paper that dates from the 1930s to the 1950s. His wife, Mary Nicol, hand-tinted his photographs and photographic Christmas cards.

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