Hand Coloured

This very sweet, little, photobooth image arrived in the post unexpectedly. It was enclosed in a funny card (A man on the back of a dolphin accidentally breaks something. His friend says, “Man, you did that on porpoise!”) and was posted from the USA. My friend Ted, strikes again! Ted has sent me numerous fabulous photobooth strips, penny photos and other lovely gifts over the years. I cannot thank him enough for his generosity. He has a great eye for choosing excellent examples of my favourite photo genres and has also given me numerous booth strips in which he is the star.

Beautifully hand coloured, this image stands out for the subtlety of the facial toning and skill with which the hair and dress have been rendered. I have never before seen fabric painting that is so detailed and delicate on such a tiny photo. Every stripe of colour is precisely placed along side the next. The folds in the fabric and hem of the capped sleeves are exactly as they would appear on the actual item. There is also a slight texture in the lines that suggests to me that this light cotton dress was made of seersucker.

Summer springs to mind when I look at this picture. The style and cloth of her dress screams sun and sand. Its colours suggest the 1950s. Pretty and young, the subject looks relaxed and happy. All this suggests to me that this photo was a beachside holiday souvenir from almost 60 years ago. Do you agree?

Thanks again to Ted! You can visit his photo blog here.

27 comments
  1. gluepot said:

    Isn’t that a lovely example of hand-colouring. I think the best ones that I see – at least of the photobooth and carte de visite genres – are those which don’t try to reproduce the original look in coloiur, but instead use colours to add to the original B&W in a complementary way. I suppose what I’m trying to say is, those that are more artistic than realistic, because the latter never seems to work.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, I understand what you mean and the colours here, I think, are trying to be realistic and actually doing a great job of it.

      I loved your article about photomatic photos on Photo-Sleuth, Brett. I hope to link to it when I do a post on a set of three enamelled ones that I have that are very unusual.

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      • gluepot said:

        I’ll look forward to that one. I am so intrigued with the Photomatic story. Do you have Nakki Goranin’s book?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, I do Brett. It is one of my main references. That and Raynal Pellicer’s Photobooth. I was thrilled to bits when Nakki sent me a friend request on Facebook! It was like being noticed by a famous actor or rock star! 😀

          I think you will like my photomatics! The ones I am thinking of are from the USA but I have one or two from Scotland and possibly one from the UK. Those are from big exhibitions. I don’t think they were ever widely used outside The States.

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          • gluepot said:

            You may have read my original article about Photomatics, but did you see the follow-up one about Photomatics in the Antipodes?
            http://photo-sleuth.blogspot.co.nz/2014/04/sepia-saturday-225-photomatic-in.html
            Can you imagine how excited I was to discover a Photomatic of my Dad in my own family collection, and also to come across an instruction plate from a Photomatic booth when I was documenting the collection in storage at my local museum. Are we fanatics, obsessive …?
            I am contemplating another in the series, because I’ve since been in touch with the son of the chap who used to operate the New Zealand Photomatics, and have some examples.
            Nakki has another bok in preparation, I believe, specifically about Photomatics – can’t wait.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks for the link, Brett. I will read it tomorrow. I CAN imagine how excited you were to find a photomatic in your family! I keep hoping I will find a photobooth photo of my grandma or grandpa in a box somewhere. The best I have done was finding a tiny tintype photo of my grandfather and great grandfather when they arrived in the USA in 1916. They were still on the deck of the S.S. Sonoma, we believe. It was carefully wrapped in tissue paper but is quite degraded in quality. It scanned up okay. Let me know if you’d like to see it. It is on my other blog.

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            • Oh, and that is so fantastic that you have a direct contact with a New Zealand photomatic machine’s owner’s family. Was it hard to track them down? Do they still have a booth in the family?

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            • When you said about Nakki writing a new book with a focus on photomatics, I asked her about a Scottish example from the Empire Exhibition I was in a bidding war over, some months back. It was she and she won! 😄. I didn’t mind too much as I had one or two of the same woman already.

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  2. When I saw this for sale, I knew you had to have it for your collection. As always, I say a little prayer… “Please, Lord, don’t let Katie have seen this one so that I can surprise her”. I like what you wrote. I’ve not seen one quite like that and thought it special.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much, Ted! It is a precious jewel and I’m so pleased you liked what I wrote about it.

      It would be terrible if we one day got into a bidding war over a photo, not realising we were bidding against each other!!! 😊❤

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  3. Yes this looks very much hand-coloured. 50’s at best. First colour prints became available at the end of the 50’s and hand-colouring was abandoned. A very nice picture. I always wonder what was the fate of this charming young lady.
    Cheers.
    Brian

    Liked by 2 people

  4. maclancy1950 said:

    Of course I love the coloring. After coloring on photos for more than 30 years I truly appreciate any that are vintage and look how much time was taken to do the stripes. Ted comes through again! Nice!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, Marianne. You would know more than anyone the time and skill that must have gone into colouring this. Ted is a superstar, isn’t he?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful picture and beautifully executed! But, I dunno, there’s a certain tension in that smile which suggests she is siting there under protest. Maybe she has had to dress up and get a “nice” picture to send to her grandmother. “Smile, nicely, for the camera my dear…” Perhaps that is why so much was spent on hand colouring it. The mind boggles. I can envisage a whole novel being written about this tiny picture.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Tony! I love your interpretation. Your scenario is definitely plausible, as it must’ve been deadly expensive to get work like this done! Only a grandparent would merit that extravagance. I think her face is relaxed but you could be right about her lips. I assumed she just has a slightly crooked smile. 😊

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  6. Quinn said:

    What a lovely photo! I agree her smile is a little reluctant or shy, like someone is asking her to sit in and she doesn’t feel entirely comfortable with it…. I love it. It’s a beautiful photo!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Quinn. It is so great to get different perspectives and her being shoved into the booth for the obligatory holiday snaps for the rellos is a distinct possibility!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s gorgeous coloring, and I’m partial to that fabric, so cheerful! I agree with the others about the odd smile – and she’s one of those people whose faces are very different on each side – one side looks relaxed, the other side doesn’t. I feel like it may be older than the 50’s, or very early 50’s, because of the hair style and the way it was colored.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You could definitely be right about the date being earlier. Her mouth is a tad strange. I love the photo and her eyes, so I concentrated on the things that I found positive and attractive about the image. I do love it when people see different things and bring their own ideas to the post. It is one of the most exciting things about blogging! ✨😊✨

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The coloring of the dress is so pronounced-beautiful. And her rosy cheeks makes me feel like it was a photo taken for a potential suitor.

    Liked by 1 person

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