The Beautiful Fakeness of Old Postcards
Coloured postcards that we see floating around from years ago by were often black and white hand drawings or photographs.
Typically these images were sent to places like India, Italy and Germany (where lithography was an art) to be colourized and early-day “photoshopped” by professionals. Often people were added to the scene and the sky was replaced with something more picturesque.
In this photo of the R. Forbes Company, the top of the water tower was ‘capped’ in a darker colour. Evidence of the sky replacement can be seen with the alignment on the left side of the stone Forbes Tower.
Many times the colours were just plain wrong. The outsourced work meant that the artists would have no way of knowing the true colours. If they weren’t given specific information, the colourist would have to take an educated guess and hope for the best.
People didn’t seem to care about the authenticity of the images, they got a thrill from seeing a local scene in vibrant colour.
Here is a “Before and After” as seen from the north side of the Speed River – taken sometime before 1928.
We’ve made a black and white version – similar to what would have been sent originally.