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Were old postcards the start of the fake news trend?

Artists, hired by publishing companies, often manipulated the images to provide a more attractive, uncluttered image

Postcard Memories is a weekly series of historic postcard views and photos submitted by Marcel Rousseau. Some were previously published by the Orillia Museum of Art and History and in the book Postcard Memories Orillia.

This view of Mississaga Street looking west from Peter Street has been published several times both in colour and black and white. Postcard views provide a good record of our past. However, many of these images require close scrutiny before accepting as factual.

Many early small-town photographers where also artists and would change the image to provide a more appealing and saleable product.

Larger publishing companies would hire a team of artists to colour and enhance postcard photos before printing. The original black and white photos would be enlarged and then coloured or enhanced by the artist, sometimes adding or removing people or vehicles or changing the landscape or sky.

The revised image was then photographed for final printing. 

These two postcards from different publishers are an excellent example of the results of manipulation by the artist. We know the original photo is the one with the utility poles. However, in the bottom postcard, the poles have been removed to provide a more attractive, uncluttered image.