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The lost art of hand-coloring photographs


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A guy from New Zealand wrote me about some of my hand-colored photos I had at my website. They are not ones I did, they are archival material. He was involved in a project on coloring photos. Here is a video he sent me. 

The Colourist on Vimeo

A lot of the early colored or tinted photos I have are in the form of RPPC or Japanese albumen prints made for the tourist market of the late 1800's. They are much cruder than top notch hand-colored photos.

Internet Archive Search: hand colored teoli

Over time they kept improving with the coloring, but still not there yet.

Selection from ‘In Communion with God’ – Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection (wordpress.com)

Kodak marketed Flexichrome in the 50's. The hand-colorists used to produce some beautiful work with their coloring sets. Probably the 1950's was the golden age of the highest end hand-colored photos.

Selection from ‘Dreams of Satin’ – Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection (wordpress.com)

Here are examples of Kodaks Flexichrome dyes.

kodak flexichrome color tinting - Google Search

I have tons of material on the Flexichrome process, but it is in the storage locker and who knows when it will get scanned. I asked the Internet Archive if they would help me out buying a Epson large format sheet fed scanner for $2,500, but they wouldn't give me a penny.  While I do have a large format scanner, it is a 'one page at a time' unit. I've got +/- 75,000 oversize pages that need scanning. I'm a big user of sheet fed scanners, but my little scanner wont go over 8.75 inches wide. I've been working for the Internet Archive as a volunteer for 6 + years. More importantly much of the material I've given them is nowhere to be found otherwise. Well, that is how it goes...you suck it up and move on. 

Now, I'm no expert on coloring photos. It is just one of 160+ areas of areas I work in. And my interest in hand-colored photos is, as you might say, casual. Even so, with only a casual interest, I still like to explore things in-depth. I guess if I had less interests...I could get more scanning done. From driving a lot through Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota I developed an interest in farm silos. Now I'm off on silos! 

Oh...if you have some hand-colored photos, keep them out of the light. They can fade over time. Only display copies of them.

Dye Fade Test for Hand-Tinted Real Photo Post Card (RPPC) – Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection (wordpress.com)

 

 

 

 

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