Sunday, January 22, 2012

Three Views of the Derby Library

"Thank you very much for the handkerchief which was very nice. Wish I could return a gift but cant just now but will later. I got a card signed Detroit who was guilty? HaHa. Yours Winona." (Addressed to Mrs. Belle Gibson, 417 Third Ave., Detroit, Michigan.)

These three reproductions of a single view of the Derby Library in Derby Connecticut provide one example of how Rotograph's coloring processes could produce distinctly different outcomes. Above is a monochrome version; below are two tinted collotypes, one more aggressively colored than the other. Notice that the roof of the building is dark red in one, blue-grey in the other. Since the printers worked from a black & white original they may have been provided with notes from the photographer as to what colors to apply. The copyright date for all three cards is the same: 1904.

The inscription on the bottom of the card above, which is not fully legible, may be a request for postcard of Georgia in return. It was mailed to Athens, Georgia.

All three of these cards have undivided backs, which were made obsolete by changes in postal regulations in 1907, but no doubt the Rotograph Co. or individual stores may have had old stock on hand for some time afterwards, particularly of a slower selling small-town scene like this one. In fact, although the the first of the tinted cards was postmarked in 1906 (the other was never mailed), the monochrome version was not postmarked until 1910.

The Derby Library, also known as the Harcourt Wood Memorial Library, dates from 1902 and is still in use. The architect was Hartley Dennett, whose wife at the time of the building's construction, Mary Ware Dennett, would later, after the couple were divorced, become a prominent advocate for sex education and birth control.

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