Mignon Gypsy

This is another matt-textured hand-tinted photo postcard that I bought some time ago. I love it – in fact, it’s one of my favourite cards.  Click the image a few times to see it larger and in more detail and you’ll see how these hand-tints trick the eye! The tinting isn’t done as carefully as it appears but that really doesn’t matter as it’s the effect that the original artists and publishers were aiming at that’s more important.

I’ve done the bare minimum of restoration on this – just got rid of the worst of the dust and blemishes. Most of my work on it, after that, was just to enhance the contrast and intensify the original colours, but I did also add a little colour of my own, to her face and hair though, hopefully, not enough to detract from the charm of the original.

I’ve been trying to find out more about the ‘Mignon’ series of postcards, but haven’t had much success apart from finding a lot of examples of them on Pinterest, etc, so if you can – do please let me know!

Couple with Parasol (W.I.P.)

How do you like this?

I think it is probably British, but I’ve no idea where it was taken. I have another photo of these two people with their friends, I hope to do both in due course. I did do a version of the other one but wasn’t happy with it so want to rework it.

Isn’t that a curious structure on the roof? I presume it’s for taking tea in the open, but am not sure. Maybe it’s for looking at the sky at night, though I can’t make out if there’s a telescope there. Have you ever seen anything like it?

It’s obviously a hot day – not just because of the parasol, but because of how many windows are open!

I’ve been trying to track down the man’s insignia on his pocket, but haven’t had any luck. Any ideas? To me it looks like an A and an M overlapping each other.  My husband thinks maybe a rowing club or some other sporting club, but I wonder if it’s a university, though it seems a bit too informal for that.

Click the photo a few times to see it larger and more clearly, as this is a smaller version (it’ll open in a new tab or new window so you can get back to this post more easily).

This photo is a work in progress. I still have the restoration to do and a lot of tidying up of the colours and a fair bit more colouring, not least the tables, and the building in the background and the paintwork.

Young woman and child

This was a postcard I bought quite some while ago. As you can see, the original is sepia but has silvering over quite a lot of it. Thankfully, most is surrounding the main image, so the simplest way to deal with it was just to do what I did with the background in Elf Children. Then I decided to give it a similar treatment by keeping the colours quite simple.

I’ve brought out the colour of their lips and the child’s eyes, but have kept the skin tones fairly similar, that keeps some of the period feel to it without losing its sense of reality.

Great-aunt Esther

This stylish-looking woman was my great-aunt Esther, and I believe this was the beach at Brighton, Sussex, as I have another photo from the same period, but not taken on the same day, in which she and two of her sisters were sitting in deckchairs and it says Brighton on something behind them.

I decided to keep things simple and do part of the background as a slight tint rather than in full colour, as I wanted Esther to be more noticeable than the people pottering around with their boats in the distance. Also the photo was too damaged to make out exactly what they were doing, so I thought an impression was best.

If you’re viewing this on a phone or tablet you probably won’t be able to see the detail, but if you’re on a desktop I hope you’ll be able to make out the pebbles in the foreground.  I’ve tried to make them as realistic as possible. I know Brighton, though haven’t been for many years, and its pebbles are many different colours, though the predominant colour is pinkish. I started colouring them like that then stopped myself because, of course, this was taken on a dull, cloudy, day – or maybe it started out bright but then, typical of Britain, it became overcast.   So there are no sharp contrasts of light and shade and… the pebbles are shiny which means it had recently rained.

Wet pebbles are darker than when they are dry and it brings out their detail.

The tracks behind Esther look old and worn, so I weathered them with the colour that damp, greening wood has.

Most of the family were in the fabric trade in one way or another and like most of the clothes in my family photos of that period and earlier, I thought this might have been an outfit she’d made herself, particularly as the family weren’t wealthy.

Embroidery, silk or satin lined jacket, pleated skirt, metal or metallic adornment, beads, stockings, white shoes, pale gloves and decorative bag, and a wide brimmed hat… did everyone dress up for a day at the seaside or were she and her out-of-shot sisters on their way back from something? A tea-dance? A wedding?  I doubt that I’ll ever know.


Children’s Roundabout in Brighton

Vintage photo of children's roundabout in Brighton, Sussex.

I recently bought this photograph of a children’s playground or fairground with roundabouts. (Click on it a few times to see it larger.) The image quality is not bad but parts of it have motion-blur and parts of the photo itself are in pretty bad condition. You can see the upper right part that is missing – that needs to be replaced – and if you look at the larger version you’ll see that there is all sorts of stuff on quite a lot of the rest of it, including stains and what looks like clay or mud spashes.  It’s been stuck on cardboard – probably originally, not later – and that’s also in a pretty poor state, with stains and other marks. There is no writing on it, back or front.  I’m hoping, in due course, to restore it… but I expect that to take a while.

I thought, when I saw it, that it might have been taken in Brighton, which is a popular seaside resort in Sussex, on England’s south coast. And I was right.   I had a look on Google streetview and went to where I thought it might be but was puzzled not to see the structure, that’s only partly in view, at the top left, so I looked for the history of the area and found it further east from where I was looking. And really, I should have known because I’ve been there so many times!

The photo was taken in Madeira Drive, Brighton.

If you look at the embedded Google streetview, below, you’ll see where it was. (You can click and drag inside the image to move it around, and click on or near the arrows that you’ll see on or against the ground, to go forward and backwards).

In our time, the wrought ironwork is still intact, as is the bank above it – albeit restored now (would the white or pale part of the bank in the photo have been repairs from bomb damage, I wonder?) and the railings at the top of that. The shelter is probably the original one or is restored.

The structure at the top left corner of the photo was a lift (elevator). That is still there, though I don’t suppose the lift itself is still operational.  The lamp-post and its lamp are probably the original ones though it looks to me as though the shade has changed. It will most likely have been a gas-lamp, originally. Now I expect it’s probably an LED… but I may be wrong.

I think the date of the photo is probably late 1940s or early 1950s, going by the clothes and the rather unsophisticated look of the rides. One is a pencil, another is – what? A panda? I can’t make out all of the detail yet, that will come as I work on it and tell myself the ‘story’ of the image.

There’s what looks like a small coach or bus in motion, and a lot of bunting hanging up. The hut is too small for refreshments, but might have been for buying tickets, and the other structure to the left of it looks like it’s the back of something at the top of which I can see the back of two head-and-shoulder silhouettes. In between the rides and the archways is a small coach, in motion. Curiously, I discovered that, at another time, this coach was also replicated as child-size coaches to ride in (but this is the full size version, the real thing.)

The roundabout rides were probably part of Peter Pan’s Playground in its early stages. It still exists, though obviously not in this form!  I have to do a bit more research into that, but here’s a photo of a miniature Southdown Coach at Madeira Drive and Peter Pan’s playground is mentioned. You can see the lift and railings in the background.

Later on, I shall probably colour this but for now, I’m just enjoying it as it is. What a find! I’m so pleased about it!

Here’s more information about Madeira Drive and Lift. The info is below a gallery of photos, and you can click the pictures to see them larger and get a little more info about each, and there are links above each photo (on its own page) to the next and the previous photos.

There’s also a fairly good view of the other side of Madeira Lift in this short article. And a nice photo of it with the ironwork arcades, here, too.

As it’s difficult to see the shelter on Google Streetview from the ground level, below is another street-view of it from the street above (called Marine Parade). On the left, you’ll see the back of the shelter (the sea-facing side will look the same), and to the right you’ll see the upper part of the lift building. It looks to me like there is rubbish of some sort beneath the shelter’s benches, and to the left of that around the base of a street light, there are some red and white barriers surrrounding an open hole… a fairly normal sight on a British street or pavement: something started and left. The workmen have probably gone off to have a cup of tea!

Please tell me what else you can see in the photo that I might have missed! Is that a motorbike with sidecar in the background near the boy on the bicycle? If it is, I wonder what make and model it is?  Can you make out any of the other rides and what they are meant to be? To me, they look like rounded train-carriages or even logs! And what of the children and adults?

What are your thoughts about this photo and its contents? I’d love to know!

Me and Little Dog


Val Erde as a child with a little dog. Restoration and photocolouring by Val Erde.

The pic above, is a photo of me as a child, age about…I dunno… six or seven? It was taken at a stables where my sister used to go to ride horses (what else, dinosaurs?) and it seems I went along one day.  No horses in this pic, but there’s a clapped-out old bus or coach and a metal pail, and me and… a little dog! Click the image a few times to see it larger, it’ll open in a new tab or new window so that you can return to this one more easily.

It’s a rather blurry photo (which leads me to believe that my dad took it as he was very good at focussing on the background, but not on the subject!) and I’ve only done a minimal amount of colouring and restoration.

Does anyone know what the dog is? I think it looks like a Jack Russell Terrier, but equally it might just be a puppy or something else. I love its expression! It seemed happy to see the camera.

Are you a dog or a cat person? Or maybe a something-else-that’s-furry (or feathery) person?

Do share or reblog this if you’d like to. 🙂