Adolfo Biener

The earliest known postmark on a postcard published by Adolfo Biener is 1915. Apart from the marking, Biener's early cards are almost indistinguishable in subject matter and printing style from those of Alberto Valdeveallano. Archaeological sites, earthquake ruins, and portraits predominate.

IdoloQuirigua.jpg (36883 bytes)
MonolitoQuirigua.jpg (44685 bytes)

HijaCacique.jpg (40528 bytes)

VendedorasPalin.jpg (38938 bytes)
Idolo Indigena
en Quiriguá
Monolito
de Quiriguá
La hija
del cacique
Vendedora de
Frutas "Palin"

MonolitosQuirigua.jpg (33536 bytes)

QuiriguaHoriz.jpg (47080 bytes)

Vendedoras.jpg (44102 bytes)

MercadoCentral.jpg (48187 bytes)

Monolitos
de Quiriguá

Monolito
de Quiriguá

Vendedoras

Interior,
Mercado Central

ClaustroAntigua.jpg (40972 bytes)

StaRosaAntigua.jpg (50223 bytes)

SnFranciscoAntigua.jpg (36914 bytes)
Claustro Escuela
de Cristo, Antigua
Ruina Santa Rosa
Antigua

Ruinas del Templo de
San Francisco, Antigua

 

Unlike Valdeavellano, whose only use of color was in solid or rainbow tones, Biener in the 1920s began publishing a line of postcards printed by a full color lithographic process. The differences can be noted in the middle example above, as well as in the examples below. These color cards have white borders, and later ones have deckle, or uneven, edges to their white borders. 

RioMotagua.jpg (36348 bytes)

OrillasAtitlan.jpg (44121 bytes)

solola.jpg (40607 bytes)
Rio Motagua
Orillas
Lago Atitlán

Sololá
(al fondo Volcán Atitlán)

InteriorChiChi.jpg (41446 bytes)

MercadoElAlto.jpg (37550 bytes)

MercadoPalin.jpg (41197 bytes)

Interior
Iglesia, Chichicastenango

En el mercado
"San Francisco El Alto"

Mercado
en Palin

MercadoChichi.jpg (42312 bytes)

CarretaTipica.jpg (38049 bytes)

tejiendo.jpg (44727 bytes)

MercadoAtitlan.jpg (40711 bytes)

Mercado en
Chichicastenango


Carreta
típica


Indias de Atitlán
(Tejiendo)


Mercado
en Atitlán

 

Biener's Real Photos

Kodak began operating in Guatemala in August 1927 as Biener & Compañía Ltda.


kodak.jpg (47281 bytes)

 

adv.jpg (24075 bytes)

 

booklets.jpg (63131 bytes)

Like his counterpart in Mexico, German-born Hugo Brehme, Adolfo Biener offered photo processing and photographic equipment and supplies from the United States and Germany. For some 35 years Biener also published tourist postcards, along with booklets containing 12 postcards that could be detached and mailed individually.

Biener's real photo postcards generally have numbers and titles that were written on the negatives, which then were printed with white borders on Agfa, Gevaert, Azo or Kodak papers, and signed either by backstamps or blind-embossing.


eruption.jpg (30560 bytes)

294StaMaria.jpg (32275 bytes)

ErupcionStaMaria.jpg (28346 bytes)

298StaMaria.jpg (38931 bytes)
Volcán de Fuego
Erupción de 1929
Volcán "Santa Maria"
1933
Erupción del
Volcán "Santa Maria"
Volcán "Santa Maria"
1938

MercedAntigua.jpg (31179 bytes)

495MercedAntigua.jpg (32235 bytes)

305PalacioAntigua.jpg (30709 bytes)

493HotelManchen.jpg (30077 bytes)
La Merced
Antigua
Pila en patio
La Merced, Antigua
Palacio
Antigua
Entrada al Hotel
Manchen, Antigua

65AguaAntigua.jpg (24946 bytes)

522RecoleccionAntigua.jpg (34714 bytes)

496MercedAntigua.jpg (33395 bytes)

337EscuelaAntigua.jpg (33174 bytes)
Mt. Agua
Antigua
Recolección
Antigua
Frente La Merced
Antigua
Escuela de Cristo
Antigua

102PalinStation.jpg (31721 bytes)

271MercadoAtitlan.jpg (44652 bytes)

47solola.jpg (31853 bytes)

RioBlanco.jpg (37033 bytes)
Estación
Palin
Mercado
Atitlán
Indígenas
de Sololá
Rio Blanco
Livingston

MuseoNacional.jpg (32665 bytes)

241IglesiaCalvario.jpg (26888 bytes)

FacultadIngenieria.jpg (37488 bytes)

VistaGuatCity.jpg (38824 bytes)
Museo Nacional
Guatemala, C.A.
Iglesia el "Calvario"
Guatemala, C.A.
Facultad de Ingeniería
Guatemala, C.A.
Panorama
Guatemala, C.A.

 

In the 1930s, a series of over 200 photo postcards published by Adolfo Biener & Cia promoted Guatemala's coffee industry. Some of the cards are marked with the initials A.R.W., implying that someone other than Biener took the photographs, with Biener having the rights to publish them. The titles on the front are in Spanish, while the promotional line on the back, "Guatemala produces the best coffee in the world," is printed in Spanish, English and German.

Chiquimula.jpg (42452 bytes)
CerroDelCarmen.jpg (37118 bytes)


38IxtiaZutujil.jpg (43642 bytes)

El Templo Cerro del Carmen
Guatemala C.A.
Cargadores.jpg (46954 bytes)
Indígenas de Chiquimula
en su traje regional
Cargadores de petates
en el camino a Atitlán

 

Ixtia de
Zutujil

 

Biener's Hand-Tinted Images

Adolfo Biener colorized his photographs into postcards that lie between two major periods in postcard making: black and white real photos and color chromes. Before color film was readily available in Guatemala, Biener's technique, exactly like that of Luis Márquez in Mexico, made his postcard images appear as if they had been shot in color. (Although KODACHROME slide film was introduced in 1935, AGFACOLOR print film in 1936, and KODACOLOR in 1942, Guatemalan and Mexican postcards do not reflect the common use of color film until the 1950s.)  

The real photo postcard at top right was individually printed in a darkroom. The negative has been titled and numbered "Fabricando Tinajas. Guatemala. 40." Embossed in the lower right corner of the face of the postcard is "Adolfo Biener / Guatemala." The paper on which the negative was printed was manufactured by Azo from the mid-1920s until the 1940s.

To create the postcard at bottom right, an original black and white photo was colored by hand. The resulting "master" copy was then mass-produced mechanically by a chromo-lithographic process. The new title is "Indígena de Chinautla, quemando ollas." It is numbered "Foto-Biener Nr. 1162" and "Propiedad del Editor" is printed vertically down the center of the back. This example wasn't mailed, but others in the series were postmarked in the 1940s.

IndiosAtitlan.jpg (40755 bytes)
VendedorasFeria.jpg (46949 bytes)

MolandoTinajas.jpg (43301 bytes)

OrillasLagoAtitlan.jpg (45964 bytes)

Indias
de Atitlán

Vendedoras
en la Feria

India de Chinautla,
moldando tinajas

Orillas
Lago de Atitlán

CampanarioAtitlan.jpg (32001 bytes)

MusicoIndigena.jpg (27975 bytes)

SanAntonioPalopo.jpg (36713 bytes)

CargadorTinajas.jpg (39194 bytes)

Campanario,
iglesia en Atitlán

Músico indígena,
San Martín Chile Verde

Indias del pueblo
San Antonio Palopó

Cargador de
tinajas - Quiché

AuroraAirport.jpg (42915 bytes)

FuenteChimaltenango.jpg (42655 bytes)

IglesiaSantiagoAtitlan.jpg (41351 bytes)

HospitalQuirigua.jpg (41354 bytes)

Hall del Aeropuerto
de la Aurora

Fuente colonial,
Chimaltenango

Patio de la iglesia,
Santiago Atitlán

Hospital
de Quiriguá

RejaMayanInn.jpg (40297 bytes)

Chichicastenango.jpg (40281 bytes)

IndioOrando.jpg (42973 bytes)

FuenteMayanInn.jpg (54908 bytes)

Reja, Mayan Inn,
Chichicastenango

Chichicastenango

Indio orando en el interior de la iglesia

Fuente, Mayan Inn
Chichicastenango

IndioTipicoChichi.jpg (41482 bytes)

DiaDeLosSantos.jpg (46079 bytes)

IndiosChichicastenango.jpg (39490 bytes)

MarimbaTipica.jpg (43377 bytes)

Indio típico de
Chichicastenango

Dia de los Santos
Chichicastenango

Indios
en sus oraciones

Marimba típica,
Chichicastenango
 


FountainPhoto.jpg (46597 bytes)


GoldLabel.jpg (4379 bytes)

WeaverPhoto.jpg (41486 bytes)

 

An original hand-tinted photograph was typically mounted on heavy textured paper that was embossed with Biener's name. A gold foil label like the one above was glued to the back. These two 5" x 7" hand-tinted photographs, mounted on thick paper that measures 9" x 12", were recently donated to Fototeca Guatemala.

CIRMA is the Centro de Investigaciones Regionales de Mesoamérica. Click here to visit CIRMA's website and explore its mission of preserving the region's photographic history and making it available to the public.

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