- 16 Nov 2016
What is it about a hand-tinted postcard?
This image was taken approximately a century ago. Ten years later, that schooner would have been replaced by a steamer. The image of that steamer would have been printed on linen-based paper necessitating inks with far less subtle hues. And, most importantly of all, the visitor to the Cape, who may well have arrived by a crowded steamer, would have found little romance in purchasing a postcard of the same type of vessel he came on. Old Cape Cod and The Age of Sail were why folks made the trip. The tourists of the early 20th Century wanted the images of the late 19th Century. Nostalgia from a postcard manufacturers point of view was the only thing with a future.
Rotographs, like hand-tints, applied color in process after the original black and white was taken, without sacrificing too much in terms of the subtlety of the hues. Here again, the march of time was relentless. The presence of the lighthouse keeper's residence at Sankaty Head on Nantucket dates the image as much as the evolving technology used to create it. The building would soon be lost in a fire and the Rotograph Company and its processes would be gone not long thereafter.
Sometimes the colors add a touch of humor that reminds us that somewhere deep in the process of churning out a new image to be produced for the teeming masses, there was someone looking to spice things up visually.
Someone looking to add more richness to a scene that would soon be lost in time, using a process that would soon be obsolete, hoping to earn the nickel of a tourist or two hoping to find something nostalgic to help them remember that day they came in search of a bit of the past.