Postcards: Colors


Figure 1.--This Belgian or French card has a New Year's greeting. The boy has a yellow stripped sailor suit with a brown sailor collar. The colors seem brighter than thise really worn by boys. This postcard was used in 1920. Notice the bows on his shoes.

Color lithography was perfected in the 1910s. Although not intially suitable for newspapers and magazines, color postcards could be printed. This gave enormous impetus to the post card industry. I'm not sure just when color photographs began to be distributed widely, I think perhaps the 1920s, but this needs to be further reserched. The world could now be viewed in color. Actually color was introduced even earlier. Many French postcards from the 1900s and 1910s were black and white photographs that had color painted in. I'm not sure just what the printing process was. A lot of the postcards of children were printed in this manner. The question is, how accuate are the colors. HBC believes that they were not very accurate. Some of these cards were colorized in great volume. The person or firm doing the coloring probably has no idea what the boy was actually wearing. The colors on many cards appear to have colorized to attract the eye of potential customers rather than to accuartely record the boy's outfit. HBC is just speculating at this time, but would liketo know more about how the various colors appearing on these cards were selected.

Technology

Color lithography was perfected in the 1910s. Although not intially suitable for newspapers and magazines, color postcards could be printed. This gave enormous impetus to the post card industry. I'm not sure just when color photographs began to be distributed widely, I think perhaps the 1920s, but this needs to be further reserched. The world could now be viewed in color. The color was through the 1930s generally painted on. We believe that only in the 1940s did true color lithographic postcards appear in large numbers. This is anestimate on our part and hope to confirm it with a postcard expert.

Painted Cards

Actually color was introduced even earlier. Many French postcards from the 1900s and 1910s were black and white photographs that had color painted in. I'm not sure just what the printing process was. A lot of the postcards of children were printed in this manner. The question is, how accuate are the colors. HBC believes that they were not very accurate. We know this not only because many cards had unrealistic colors, but also we have the same or similar card painted in different colors. Some of these cards were colorized in great volume. The person or firm doing the coloring probably has no idea what the boy was actually wearing. The colors on many cards appear to have colorized to attract the eye of potential customers rather than to accuartely record the boy's outfit. HBC is just speculating at this time, but would like to know more about how the various colors appearing on these cards were selected. Was it up to the artist, or was he given instructions by the postcard company.

Companies

We know very little about the post card companies at this time. We do not know, for example, the reationship between the companies and photographers. We believe that most of the photographs were taken by photographic studios and then sold to the postcard companies who printed the cards in large numbers. The postcard compaies the hired the hand painters to colorize the cards. This relationship has to be studied in more detail.






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Created: October 7, 2000
Last updated: 7:40 PM 7/17/2008