Musical Children


Click the image a few times to see it larger and in more detail. It should open in a  new tab or window. More about this card in a moment but first…

Well, I’m back because I miss this blog but, if you saw my recently-posted note, you’ll know that my computer on which I do all my photocolouring and restoration work, decided it didn’t want to work anymore, which was a pain not least because I’d only bought it last summer and it was new, but also because my memory problems – that’s my memory, not the computer’s – made me forget to back up the computer. And that means I’ve lost four months’ worth of photocolouring and restoration work, along with a whole host of other stuff and also the bookmarked links, photos and videos for my facebook page Val’s Vintage Potpourri.   So… for now I’m having to rely on the very few draft posts I had here, like this one. And as soon as my pc returns – hopefully repaired – I’ll have to redo the ones I’ve lost. This means it’s going to take me quite a while to get this blog back to normal.

The moral of all this is that even if you’re a smart-arse like me (who tells everyone to back up regularly and fully) sooner or later it’s going to happen to you, too…

So, on to this picture…

I have a few hand-tinted photos and postcards – original tint-artist unknown, certainly not me! This is one of them. I’ve included the back of the postcard so that as well as the writing on it, you can see the stamp and postmark, also the postcard printer. Unusually, the words ‘POST CARD’ are in red with an underline, with the printer’s info also in red print.

To save you getting a crick in your neck, the printer’s info is:

The Carlton Publishing Co., London E. C. Printed in Germany

As a point of interest, though this doesn’t relate to the date of the image, ‘E. C.’ stands for ‘East Central’ and includes the City of London and parts of the surrounding boroughs with one or more numbers suffixed onto it when the location is beyond the actual centre. To my knowledge, ‘E. C.’ is no longer used without a number, but it was still used within my living memory (I have a London road atlas from the 1940s or 1950s with it.)

The ink-stamp indicates when it was posted, but of course it might have been printed much earlier.

What puzzles me is whether it’s actually a photo.  It looks like an illustration but that may be because of the slight fading and the style of printing. The surface is matt, and the base colour is sepia. The added colours are red (with a lighter tint of the same colour on the flowers) and a pale yellow, almost primrose. I can’t tell if the white is the sepia’s base, or not.

The child standing looks out of proportion to me. I don’t know if, perhaps, she is standing on a box that’s hidden beneath her dress, to raise her up, with the shoes positioned beneath her, or if she’s really that shape! Or maybe it’s just an optical illusion because of the ‘piano’. What, indeed, is it? A harpsichord? A Virginals? And does it actually have any keys? Whatever it is, it is sitting on top of a small desk or table with drawers. It looks like a prop, or something invented.

The children don’t seem to have enough solidity for it to be a photo (though it might be) and the backdrop normally seen in vintage studio photos seems, in this, to merge with the foreground in its shallowness.

Most of the colouring is nicely done although, as ever, a closer look reveals some sloppiness – particularly on the flowers and the standing girl’s waistband. But these tints were done on the images themselves, probably with a slender-tipped paintbrush and good eyesight or magnifying glass.

Have you any thoughts on this? Do you think it’s a photo or an illustration? What do you think the instrument is? What about the height of the standing girl? Anything else?

And… dare I ask it… when did you last fully and completely back up your computer?

Oh, and I’ve removed the stupid ‘off topic’ prompt…. one day not-very-soon I want to change this blog rather a lot. And probably me, too.


32 thoughts on “Musical Children

  1. Your idea of a virginal would be my guess, just based on looking at pictures, or perhaps a small clavichord, since they’re a very simple instrument. It only looks like there’d be room for one octave, and like it might have been a relic even when they set up this tableau. What makes me think it’s a real instrument, is that catch on the side, which doesn’t seem likely on a prop.
    I’m so sorry about the loss of all that work, what a heartbreak. And I don’t mean to salt the wound, but did you ask the “geek squad” (that’s an actual company here, not a slur) if they could try to recover data, even if the computer seems to be trashed? if it was the motherboard that went (or was it the hard-drive itself that went). Very sorry but I admire your resilience.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mmm… the catch on the side and accompanyng long piece of wood looks to me like what might prop up the upper part (the lid or music rest) and, as you say, not likely on a prop.

      Too late to rescue the hard drive, unfortunately. It’s a long story… happy to tell you in an email, but not here. One phrase might give a clue, though: “Dell’s collect and return”.

      I’ve never considered it resilience, but that’s certainly a nice, positive, way of thinking about it, thanks! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s a good idea and something I might consider if I ever manage to get cable/fibre-optic broadband but at the moment my broadband comes down the telephone line and, being 4 miles from the exchange, the connection constantly drops out which makes anything I do online very unstable. It’s one of the problems of rural living, unfortunately!

          Liked by 1 person

            1. I use flash drives in between main backups – or did til I forgot!! Main problem with me this time was that it was a new computer and I was still getting used to it so things just sort of lapsed… As for how long the storage will last, the only problem I’ve had with flash drives have been with the casing (a couple came away from the main part, so now I don’t use that kind) and when the O.S. was changed and the system didn’t recognise them.

              Liked by 1 person

    1. If I’d known how much trouble and expense computers would cost me before I ever got one, it’s quite probable that I never would have got one. But then I would never have discovered the huge amount of wonderful things that I did and which continue to fill me with happiness – including the photocolouring and blogging, to name just two. Thanks, Ann.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think the standing child is in proportion, Val. The very high waisted dress gives, I think, a deceptive sense of that. The seated child is the taller of the two by a little. And, I would say it’s a photo, mainly going by the patterning on the musical instrument, whatever it is!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Having had an un-backed up hard drive bite the dust myself, I can empathize with your plight. I have an external hard drive that I have plugged into my computer, and have it set up so that if I change and resave any of a certain set of files, they are automatically copied not just to my computer’s hard drive, but to this external drive as well. This “mirror” drive is made by Western Digital and comes with the backup software already installed. It was not prohibitively expensive either. Just a thought. Hang in there! As they say, to err is human; to really foul things up takes a computer. . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Wol. I do use external drives, though I don’t leave them plugged in (or have them on auto) because then if something happens to the main computer – for instance, a virus – the connected drive will get it too. I use Western Digital and recently have found Maxtor to be a good (and faster) alternative. Your last sentence made me laugh! 🙂


  4. It seems to me that a strange sort of mismatch between the standing girl’s hair and face and the rest of her adds to the illusion that she’s out of proportion. She has a very young, almost childish, face, which doesn’t seems to fit with an older body. But I think it’s a photo. The only thing that suggests it might not be is the plant seen through the window. It’s rather strange — seems to be covered with snow, and doesn’t seem to be hanging the way something would if it had some weight. If it does have snow on it, then why is the window open? Hard to say.

    On the other hand, I found a good number of Carlton cards from this era on ebay, and many of them stipulate “real photo.” So I think I’d go along with that for this one. The fruit might be an addition.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If it is a photo then it’s more than likely that the window and view from it (and the wall and possibly more) is a studio backdrop. As for the ‘snow’ I think that’s an illusion created by the colour that has been added to the blossoms or whatever they’re meant to be. The panelling on the wall is too 2D for it to be real, so I assume that’s a backdrop, but I’m still not sure if the children are real too! I wonder if it might be like the one I posted just before Christmas of the children and Christmas angel, which looks like a real photo that has been painted over (I think) to make it look like an illustration.

      I’ll have to look at some Carlton cards, but at the moment I’m freezing my arse off sitting at my husband’s computer in a bloody cold room! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s tough Val but I’m only just going to give the edge to an illustration or painting? Simply because of the slightly elongated proportions and positioning of the figures…but I’m still not 100%

    But I really love the subtle colour and the pop of the red. Another incredible job Val.

    After reading this I decided to back up some photos and documents, but it’s something I should do more regularly! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, I don’t know either!
      Thanks for the compliment on the colouring, Ty, but this is not one I’ve done, it’s a hand-tinted card that I bought like this and scanned ‘as is’ without any work on it. 🙂
      Yep… as soon as my pc went off for repairs… I promptly backed up my husband’s pc (which I’m currently using as my tablet makes me lose the will to live.. though sitting in this cold room is having a similar effect..) Good to keep on top of things… when we remember!


    1. Thanks. I have it on some posts and not others but I’m not a fan of it because it minimises engagement (and because a lot of people who just click ‘Like’ are spammers). More info at the bottom of my ‘comments and likes’ page.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Can’t say that I blame you. Still, I like to use “Like” when I like a post but don’t feel as if I have anything interesting to add. Also, several of my favorite bloggers post daily (some of them publish multiple posts daily), and I’d have little time for anything else if I took time to comment every day; “Like” at least let’s them know I’m keeping in touch, while only commenting when I especially enjoy a post.

    With that said, I will now check out your “comments and likes page.”


  7. The postcard looks like a tinted illustration, perhaps because of the strange coloration and the very low height of the virginal. Still uncertain about whether the instrument is a muselar and whether the postcard is a photograph, so this one continues to intrigue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The added colour is definitely hand-tinting as that’s a fairly typical style but I’m not sure about the rest. It might be a muselar but I gather the keyboard is placed to one side, so maybe not. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh my, I am due for a back up as well. Thanks for reminding me. Will do that this weekend. About the image… I had not noticed it before reading you, but I agree the standing girl does look out of proportion. I think you are probably right, she must be standing on a boxe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been putting every file, as soon as I’ve finished working on it, onto a pendrive, then at the end of the week putting it onto an external hard drive. That’s what I was doing before I got my new pc (the one that kept crashing) but I lapsed… It is a good idea to back up regularly. Yes… very strange proportions, that girl!

      Liked by 1 person

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