Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Postcard of the Day No. 63, Fleet Street

Known to readers of Private Eye as the Street of Shame, the name derives from London’s largest subterranean river. It’s a classic view looking east towards St. Paul’s and the City. The chosen cards are about 3 decades apart and as well as showing some improvement in traffic congestion they illustrate developments in printing technology and the change from monochrome to colour. The card above shows a street in the era of horse-drawn buses, throttled with traffic in an impressive amount of detail. Louis Levy (LL) of Paris was the publisher, the only producer of postcards to set up shop on this side of the Channel and noted for the excellence of their printing in terms of definition and tonal subtlety. The colour card below is the work of Valentine’s of Dundee, one of the major suppliers of postcards in the inter-war years with a large selection of colour views of Central London subjects. Printing cheaply in colour meant sacrificing the photographic clarity for which the company had been famous. The result here is an image that releases very little in the way of texture and detail while the colour palette is primitive and unconvincing. 

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