Saturday, 11 May 2019

Hand-Tinted Postcards, Subtle and Not So

My thanks go to Colin McLeod of Dundee for providing this scan of his rare hand-tinted postcard of Balintore Castle. Colin spoke to me during the recent open day, and indicated this gem was in his collection of 40,000! And yes, I have got the correct number of zeros in this figure. :-)

early 20th Century hand-tinted postcard of Balintore Castle

I may as well quote Colin's expertise verbatim:

The card was published in the D&SK ‘Ideal Series’ [Davidson & Son, of Kirkcaldy]. It is not dated or used, but it is a ‘divided back’ postcard, so cannot have been printed before 1902, and as the publisher had the card printed in Saxony, it cannot be later than 1914. 

With the hand-tinting and odd, rather unrealistic two-tone palette for the stone of the building, this is very different proposition to the other (black and white) postcards I know, which are shown in a previous blog entry.

The unforeseen and delightful consequences of having an open day!

On seeing this blog entry, friend of Balintore and fashionista Ă‰cossaise extraordinaire, Solveig sent me this image of a second postcard.

second hand-tinted postcard of Balintore Castle

A minute of so of study shows it is the self-same photograph but cropped differently and given a much more subtle crepuscular hand-tinting. Much more to my taste. The plants are in the same position and at the same stage of growth, and from the agreement of object alignments in the two images, the position from which the two photographs were taken is identical.

The difference in cloud effects reveals remarkable pre-Photoshop skills!

For completeness the reverse of the second postcard is show below. The postmark of the 2nd August 1909 supports Colin's earlier dating.

reverse of second postcard

And for further completeness, courtesy of StreetView, here is the charming property to which the postcard was addressed: 48 Rothwaite Road, Liverpool.

destination of second postcard

And an update (19th November 2019). The same image found on a postcard for sale on eBay, but this time in the original black and white.


  1. This is less than a mile away from me, small world

  2. Yes, small world! I wondered if the residents of the house would mind me putting the photo on the blog, but then I reflected that it is on Google StreetView already and they may be interested in past residents of the house.

  3. This reminds me when Harrods owner Mahamed al Fayed bought Balnagowan Castle near my home in Scotland. I was a teen and walked around the castle as it was restored, he pulled own the victorian winter vérandas and installed dozens of bathrooms but the most incredible thing was his having the facade painted pink. The painter told me that instead of dark pink with light pink detail he wanted the opposite so it had to be redone. I suppose that he saved the building but I shudder to think what the Inside is like now with gold taps and elevators and indoor pool ! Yikes !

    1. The Internet does not reveal what al Fayed has done to the interior, but the pre-existing interior on canmore is pretty special:

      Oh for a look around! :-)

    2. Thanks David, I looked this up, amazing nice old country house. I only remember the trophy room, quite dark and lined with glass cases and the Builder telling me that all the taps were solid gold ( must have been gilded ) and he had the victorian conservatory torn down. I have passed there since and there are walls and fences and guards and a helicopter pad etc ,,, all the mod cons for modern billionaires !! such a pity that for the most part the only people who can afford to take on houses like that are tasteless ones ,, unless they are ruins and they find dedicated Young people to make them homes again ,,,xxx

    3. Just spoken to a friend who has visited Balnagowan and she confirmed that al Fayed's pad has high fences all around. :-( Actually, I am fond of al Fayed's Egyptian staircase at Harrods. I hope it has not been dismantled. So I would not pre-judge an interior before seeing it.

      A high end architect I know, says it is 50/50. Some rich buyers of Scottish estates do honour the original style and alterations/restorations are done with great taste. Others blunderbus the interior with "nouveau riche" trappings. I try to take an optimistic historical perspective. We now enjoy Victorian "nouveau riche" taste as charming and quirky. :-)

    4. Yes it's easy to judge the super rich. I used to dress the Saudi Royals and when I stayed over in SA I was amazed by their taste, the incredible collections, not flashy but really authentic and they even had ancient Tibetan prayer rolls and Chinese silver wire embroidered panels on the walls. The most amazing thing was the silvered horse armour above the sofa, the jewel incrusted daggers just lying on the table and the huge wall of rough hewn slate as a fireplace, high end mid century style. Not that it was ever lit ! Yes some of the mega rich are so afraid of being labelled tasteless that they get the right people in the do their homes jsut as in LA where practically no one 'does' their own home ,,, xxx

    5. I envy you the SA experience! :-) Actually, having no money makes decorating Balintore very easy. With 85 rooms to furnish, I just buy the cheapest Victorian brocante out there - it's authentic and inexpensive and no interior decorator has imposed their socially-aspirant regimented aesthetic.

    6. I think that little money makes us more inventive. I am always broke but I think that I have some lovely things, usually left overs or street finds, you could furnish a chateau with what the French put on the pavement! I did a few projects with Philippe Starck and was friends with his wife ( now divorced) and when I moved into a new flat she offered me stuff from one of their hundred storage units ! it was Inlaid chests, murano chandeliers etc but I told her that in the real world people Don't have 15 feet high ceiling and 50 m2 rooms ,, she meant well but I had to say no ( painfully ) I once dragged a heavy lions foor wardrobe base and two oil paintings home at night when walking the dogs! and anothre night it was a 1930s oak chest of drawers ( I went home for a trolley ) and I still have those things. xxx