The advent of artificial intelligence driven photographic software means that we can now all play around with colouring the past. Such experiments have differing levels of success: sometimes we get a stunning insight into the real beauty of great-auntie Gertie, other times we give our grandfathers purple beards and pink dungarees! Such artificial colourisation is nothing new, however, many of the picture postcards from well over one hundred years ago had colour added long after the original monochrome photograph was taken.
This picture postcard of Southgate in Halifax – which I have just added to my collection – is a good example of the genre. A&G Taylor’s patented “orthochrome” process created orange buildings and bright yellow signposts where such things never existed in reality. The end result was pictorially pleasing and the kind of thing that would have been snapped-up by Edwardian shoppers anxious to send a message through the post.
It is not just the somewhat crude colourisation, other aspects of many of these early postcard scenes share features with the array of photographic filters available on smart-phones these days. The result is a distant relative to an impressionist painting and the first cousin to a forgotten memory.
Like all such old postcards, the message on the reverse is like a lost page of a novel that was never written:-
We were in Banbury yesterday, but very sorry but could not get time to come and see you as we didn’t get in before three and mother wanted to see little Willie so we went over there. Florrie and I will be in Thursday again. Hope you are well. I will bring your tablets in with me as I am going up to see the Dr today. In haste, with love from Lily. Hope you are well.
You could start digging to discover who all these characters were, but let’s just leave them back in the world of 1914. It was soon to become a world that would generate very different memories