Google+ Followers

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Found behind the Mantlepiece



Damaged photographs are the subject for this week. The following two examples from my collection were discovered behind the mantelpiece in a bedroom of my grandparents' former home in Christchurch NZ, when some new owners were preparing to do some renovations.  Jack Morrison built the family home at 2 Aylmer Street in about 1925 and he and his wife Mona brought up a family of six children there. They both passed away in the 1970s and since then ownership of the house has changed several times. A couple of years ago I happened to notice that it had been on the market again, and I thought the buyers might like to know a little about the history of the house and its first occupants, so I contacted the agent, who said she would pass on my details. The new owners were interested and we exchanged several emails and photographs. When these two photographs were found, they kindly posted them over to me, and my mother Jean was immediately able identify the child on the right as her younger brother Derek, who was born on 15 March 1929 and passed away in Wanganui NZ, shortly before his 76th birthday in 2005. The photograph is not is bad condition, considering that it had lain hidden where it fell for at least forty years and possibly much longer. Young Derek grew up, married and became a father of three and grandfather of five. I haven't tried to photoshop the photo, but have forwarded copies on to Derek's daughters, so they could do so if they wished. Sadly he didn't see very much of them in his later years, as he and his wife were no longer together and she and the girls had all moved to Australia.

 The photograph on the left is is very good condition, and is of a little boy called Keith, according to the inscription on the back of its folder : "Kind Regards. Keith aged 19 months". Apparently Keith was the son of  a friend of my grandmother Mona Morrison, but that is all I know about him.



Young Derek has featured in a few of my blogs on the Morrison family, and I think have shown this picture before somewhere, but it is one of my favourite photos, showing him playing cricket in the garden at Aylmer St with his older siblings on Christmas Day, 1932.  For more about the family home at 2 Aylmer St, click here.




Here are Derek and Jean together  in Wellington NZ in 2002, which was probably the last time they saw each other. To see another nice photograph of Derek with his older sister Pat, click here.



One more damaged photograph comes to mind here. It is of my great great grandfather Charles Young, 1818 - 1898, and was found languishing in my aunt's garage after she passed away in 2011. It was printed on what I would describes as a large glass plate, which was cracked in several places and was threatening to fall apart if moved. It could not be glued together effectively, so something needed to be done to save or preserve the original image. The husband of  a distantly related cousin in New Zealand who works in digital design very kindly offered to fix it up for me. All I had to do was email him a photograph of the original plate in large format and you can judge the result for yourselves from the before and after shots.   Charles in all his original glory is now framed and hanging proudly on the wall beside his wife Jane, as you can see here from an earlier post. Thankfully Jane's original matching photograph was not printed on a matching glass plate.  Thank you once again, Kim and Zane Fletcher-Purdom, from Rangiora NZ!

Charles Young on the original glass plate

Charles Young, 1818-1898, after digital restoration




More blogs on photos in less than perfect condition can be examined at Sepia Saturday #278. 

19 comments:

  1. What a wonderful find, and it only happened because you were so thoughtful. I see the silverfish have got to both images, but apart from that they are in remarkably condition considering how close they were to the fireplace, and all that heat, for so long. Thanks for sharing them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. By the way, your Mr Linky link on SS this week doesn't work, so you may have to redo it.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Brett. I've re-done the link, plus added another old photo in that has been digitally restored, if you care to Check it out.

      Delete
    3. How interesting. You can see that the original glass plate was already quite heavily retouched, presumably by the photographer. Is the glass milky or translucent? If so then it's probably an opalotype (see example here. Alternatively, it might be a crystoleum portrait (see here for another example).

      Delete
    4. Both your links lead to the same blog, but yes, I think it must have been an opalotype. Unfortunately I don't have it any more because as I said, it was virtually in pieces, so once I got the scan restored I decided the original was not worth keeping in that condition,

      Delete
  2. The restoration of your great great grandfather is beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's truly remarkable how much baby Derek and adult Derek resemble each other. You could almost interchange them. Was he and (his wife?) standing in front of young Queen Elizabeth's framed photograph for a special reason in the extra picture?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Derek was with his older sister Pat at a ceremony in 1997 when she was awarded a Queen's Service Medal for her community work.

      Delete
  4. You all seem to be much more knowledgeable about photos and negatives and all than I am. Now I have to go look up silverfish.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love the Lilliputian cricket match!

    ReplyDelete
  6. The restoration is remarkable. The left-hander plays a very straight bat.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a distinctive man was Charles. His eyes are particularly captivating. He radiates strength. Digital restoration is just amazing and some of the programs are amazingly easy to use.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Love the old photo of Derek playing cricket. A great snippet of bak yard history.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Little Derek is adorable. Your friend is a magnificent job repairing the photograph on glass. Looking at the repaired photo no one would be able to tell there was a problem.

    ReplyDelete
  10. A few years ago I posted my theory that most lost photos will be found behind mantlepieces and radiators. Charles looks much better with a digital facelift. In the 19th century, photographers offered to duplicate the old daguerreotype and ambrotype photos using negatives that allowed duplicates to be made. They often used artful techniques to "improve" these small and usually dark images.
    You asked how I made the animation on my blog this weekend. It's called a GIF file and is basically a loop of several layers of an image. Mine was made of just two layers, the before and after, and "saved for the web" in Photoshop Elements. The GIF is only animated when viewed inside an internet browser and because it can be a short movie the file size limits how large the image can be. It is quite easy to do and there are some websites which will compile a series of images into a GIF file for free.

    ReplyDelete
  11. That's a rather conservative restoration of your great-great grandfather's portrait. Who could not be pleased with that?

    ReplyDelete
  12. there are some photos that really look like they should be in motion, but someone has hit the pause button. That's how the photo of Derek playing cricket appears to me.

    ReplyDelete