I love looking at old photographs of Galician cities and towns, especially postcards with city views. A real treat among these are photomontages — postcard collages.
I first came across montage postcards depicting Lviv and was particularly struck by the one with a woman who had fallen from her bicycle. It seemed like such an unusual and humorous image to use for a postcard.
Once I began researching this phenomenon, I discovered that in the first decade of the 1900s, photomontage picture postcards were popular in different parts of the world, including in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Eventually, I found more and more examples, not only from Lviv but from other Galician cities. The vast majority I came across were produced by Lederer & Popper.
Lederer & Popper, Praha
One of the most famous companies that produced montage postcards in the Habsburg Monarchy was Prague-based Lederer & Popper, who released a series of colored photomontages featuring various cities in the Empire.
The website Old Prague on Old Postcards writes that the company Lederer & Popper (Josef Lederer & Rudolf Popper) “designed, and probably also produced, black-and-white, coloured, and photomontage picture postcards with stamped embossed lithographic frames, etc. The collection of Prague picture postcards issued by this company is among the most extensive. They are usually marked by the sign, L. & P. or L. & P.P., (the last letter denotes Prague). In particular, the hand-coloured picture postcards from this renowned company are perhaps executed in the most satisfactory quality of all the picture postcards of old Prague; the hues are usually muted, approaching authenticity.”
‘In the Future’ Series
In addition to montage postcards showing ordinary scenes, such as couples strolling in the park or people on bicycles, Lederer & Popper also produced postcards of cities “in der Zukunft” (in the future) depicting chaotic and overcrowded street scenes with hot air balloons, elevated trams, airships, flying bicycles, and accidents on the road.
L. & P., turns out, was just one of many companies who created such predictions of the future. Various company picked up this trend and so I’ve come across such futuristic postcards showing not only Galicia (which is only a handful) and other parts of the Austrian Empire, but also cities in the German Empire and the United States.
In fact, this fad spread to Europe from the United States, where the “In the Future” series first appeared in the 1900s. According to a collector on the Postcard Collector forum, “The series was mainly published on cities of New England by Frank Swallow, Execter NH and a GMCCO (black and white), as well as Reichner Bros. and W. B. Hale (color). More than 300 postcards were published.”
Here we can see the future street scenes of Wiener Neustadt, Austria (publisher unknown) and Vienna (publisher C. HW).
BTW, notice the same women who took a spill on her bike as the one on the postcard above from Lviv?
Re-use of Montage Elements Across Cities and Time
So how is it that the woman who fell from her bicycle in Lwów on Batorego Street had the same fall in the Austrian cities of Wiener Neustadt and Vienna?
This is because the same montage elements were often copied and used by different publishers. As a result, we find the same people, vehicles, and other accessories not only across cities, but also in the future.
The German website Spiegel explains the reason behind the use of the same subjects on various postcards: “Postcards were produced cheaply and in mass. Since a good motif could be easily modified, allowing for even more sales, one finds the same accessories in the postcards. Publishers such as Lederer & Popper collaborated with photographers and stationery shops, which sent them photographs of their cities. Cutouts were added to the original photos, the desired number of copies was printed, and then they were sent back to the local business partners who then sold them.”
Here are great examples using Galicia’s main cities of Lwów (Lviv) and Kraków: We can see in these L. & P. postcards the same little girl in a red dress with a hula-hoop playing in both Lwów’s Kilinski Park and Kraków’s Planty. And below that, we see the same woman with binoculars taking in the beautiful panoramas of both cities. Also note how similar these compositions are, with the statues and the girl in the lower-right corner, or the woman on the left, with the Lwów’s Kopiec Unii Lubelskiej (Lublin Union Mound) and Kraków’s Kopiec Kościuszki (Kościuszko Mound) in the background.
Here we see the same man flying over Lwów and Wien.
While here a certain smiling mustached man can be found in Lviv in the contemporary day and in Soldau, Germany, in the future. (Lwów postcard produced by LP, Soldau publisher unknown.)
And finally, in both of these postcards we see cutouts of the Wuppertal Suspension Railway — now elevated much higher above the cities than the original railway. This railway was especially popular on those depicting German cities, but it can also be found on the postcard from Galician Sambor (now Sambir, Ukraine). (Publishers unknown.)
Gallery of Lederer & Popper Photomontage Postcards
Below is a collection of L. & P. montage postcards I’ve found of Galicia and beyond. See if you can spot more of the same cutouts across different street views and cities.
Austro-Hungarian Empire: Galicia
By far, the most L. & P. photomontage postcards I’ve found are from Lviv. I have also found a handful from Kraków, and a few from some towns in eastern Galicia.
In the [near] Future: Stanislawow in the year 1914
This is how the creator saw the city just a few years in the future. The postcard was probably produced between 1904 and 1910.
Austro-Hungarian Empire: Czernowitz (Chernivtsi)
Austro-Hungarian Empire: Wien
By Areta Kovalska