“Polychromide, a two-color subtractive process invented in 1918 by Aron Hamburger, achieved limited commercial success overseas, and was occasionally employed in England as late as 1933. Originally an orthochromatic and a panchromatic negative were exposed in a beamsplitter camera. Later the use of the beam-splitter was dropped in favor of a conventional camera using bipack negative films. Polychromide prints were made on double-coated positive film stock which was dye toned red-orange on one side and blue-green on the other. Exposure from each of the camera negatives was made simultaneously by the printer on opposite sides of the positive film. Perhaps the most significant advancements made by Hamburger lay in his dye-mordanting process. He was probably the first to dye the film first and to bleach and mordant afterward. This alteration of standard procedure resulted in improved color consistency throughout the length of the film.

Although Hamburger was an American by birth, he developed his system in England and no record of its commercial use in the United States could be found.”

(Nowotny, Robert A. (1983): The Way of All Flesh Tones. A History of Color Motion Picture Processes, 1895-1929. New York: Garland Pub, pp. 132-133.)

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Secondary Sources

Brown, Simon (2012): Technical Appendix. In: Sarah Street: Colour Films in Britain. The Negotiation of Innovation 1900-55. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 259-287, on p. 278. View Quote

Cherchi Usai, Paolo (2000): Silent Cinema. London: BFI, p. 36. View Quote

Cleveland, David; Pritchard, Brian (2015): How Films were Made and Shown. Some Aspects of the Technical Side of Motion Picture Film 1895-2015. Manningtree, Essex: David Cleveland, on p. 210. View Quote

Coe, Brian (1981): The History of Movie Photography. Westfield, N.J.: Eastview Editions, p. 128. View Quote

Evans, Ralph Merrill; Hanson, W.T., Jr.; Brewer, W. Lyle (1953): Principles of Color Photography. New York: Wiley, p. 296. View Quote

Klein, Adrian Bernhard = Cornwell-Clyne (1940): Colour Cinematography. Boston: American Photographic Pub. Co., 2nd revised edition, pp. 207-209. View Quote

Koshofer, Gert (1981): Geschichte der Farbverfahren in der Spezialistenzeit. In: Joseph-Haubrich-Kunsthalle and Agfa-Gevaert Foto-Historama Leverkusen (eds.): Farbe im Photo. Die Geschichte der Farbenphotographie von 1861 bis 1981. Katalogbuch. Köln: Joseph-Haubrich-Kunsthalle, p. 101. View Quote

Koshofer, Gert (1996): Early Colorfilm Processes for the Cinema. In: Monica Dall’Asta, Guglielmo Pescatore and Leonardo Quaresima (eds.): Il colore nel cinema muto. Bologna: Clueb, pp. 43-44. View Quote

Nowotny, Robert A. (1983): The Way of All Flesh Tones. A History of Color Motion Picture Processes, 1895-1929. New York: Garland Pub, pp. 132-133. View Quote

Pénichon, Sylvie (2013): Twentieth Century Colour Photographs. The Complete Guide to Processes, Identification & Preservation. London, Los Angeles: Thames & Hudson, on pp. 278–279. View Quote

Ryan, Roderick T. (1977): A History of Motion Picture Color Technology. London: Focal Press, pp 75-77. View Quote


Absorbances measured with a multispectral imaging system from film areas with pure dyes. Credit: Giorgio Trumpy, ERC Advanced Grant FilmColors.

See the specific sample from which the spectra were measured.

Contemporary Reception

Anonymous (1928): Doubts on Colour. In: The Bioscope, 1151,LXXVII, Oct., p. 28. View Quote

Anonymous (1928): Polychromide Process Demonstrated. Two Negatives and Double-Sided Positive. In: The Bioscope, 1151,LXXVII, Oct., p. 23. View Quote

Anonymous (1928): The Polychromide Colour Process. In: The Bioscope, 1151,LXXVII, Oct., p. x. View Quote