Embelishments of Photos

I find it amazing that some 1900’s and 1910’s publishers of postcards back in the day would go to great lengths to republish old photos as “modern colourised postcards”. I’m not a fan of Blantyre’s colourised postcards, for in many cases the colour is not representative of the actual scene, and lately I’ve been noticing things painted in and added to postcards, clearly just to make them sell better.

One example of incorrect colourisation was at the Pech Brae where the little Pathfoot whitewashed cottages

1905 Blantyre Works Village (PV)

1880’s Blantyre Works Village (PV)

were incorrectly painted bright pink in a couple of colour postcards when of course they were always white.

However, it’s the things that were added in that annoy me. I understand why it was done, but really, it just paints a wrong picture. The best example of this is in this 1880s photo, which is a wonderful old black and white actual photo of Blantyre Works Mills, shown here in good resolution.

1905 colourised postcard

1905 colourised postcard

Later around 1905, this postcard was published, completely repainted using the photo as the subject, adding in fine black lines which took away much of the realism and I think added a cartoon effect. You could be tempted to think that the 1905 publication date was the date of the photo. But it wasn’t. The photo was some 20 years earlier. Other aspects of the painting are nicely done like the trees, which I’ll give them credit for. The sky is added in completely and was overcast in the photo.

The Bothwell Church Steeple was completely added in, missing from the original photo, presumably put on the postcard to give the scene context but looks nothing as large or like that in real life.

Sure the colour versions are pretty and popular, but my advice on Blantyre’s postcards, it to be careful with the colourised cards. There are more examples of artistic and commercial license being added deliberately to these, sometimes at the expense of fact. Its just a minor point, but the original black and white photos should be the items referred to for historical accuracy.

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