Vintage Postcard Images

Examples of Restoration of Original Postcard Scans

Even an original postcard in good condition will reveal dirt and damage when scanned at 600 dpi for enlargement.  Sometimes, even I'm surprised at the condition, when the card itself looks OK to the naked eye.

My goal is to create a digital image worthy of  print media or enlargement for wall art.
I start by opening the image in full size, which is approximately 5 times the original size.  I digitally clean the dirt and restore scratched and missing areas.  I remove handwriting, but do my best to retain and restore the caption and publisher's name and/or trademark.  I rarely second guess the artist's choice of colors, but may color correct a yellowed card.  I may also increase the contrast slightly.  During this process, I am zooming in and out, checking the color and contrast, and how the entire image is looking.  When I think I'm finished, I zoom in twice the full size, and look for any remaining dirt and flaws.  The entire process may take several hours, but for a magnificent view, it's worth it!

YMCA Original
ABOVE:  This is a card in very poor condition, originally published in gray tone in 1916.  Like most old cards, it is filthy, scuffed, and cracked.
YMCA Colorized
ABOVE:  The same image cleaned and digitally colored.  This is an "Extreme Makeover" for an old image, but  Naperville is a popular subject, and I have never seen this view in color.  It was a lot of work, but a good learning experience!
Original Scan Corrected Image
ABOVE:  The original postcard is in extremely poor condition.  It has been stored in a damp garage, and has yellowed and deteriorated considerably. 
The gel finish has begun to separate from the postcard backing.  I would never purchase a card in this condition, but the image has historic and aesthetic value. 
ABOVE: The image has been color corrected, white flecks and scuffs removed, and missing portions restored.
Original Scan
ABOVE:  Th is an example of a common "offense" - writing a message across the front of the card.  I've seen many cards in which the sender indicates his/her room in the building with a big "X".
Other than removing the writing, this image only needed a little touching up of dirt, rounded corners, white flecks and minor scuff marks. I also cleaned and brightened the white margin, trying not to affect the caption. 
Mandel Brothers
Mandel Restored
ABOVE:  This is one of my favorite images, but the condition of the original card is very poor. The card is so dirty and scratched, I finally gave up and replaced the blue sky with a sky cloned from another card. I was pleased to be able to salvage the dramatic clouds.
This one needed a LOT of restoration, but I think it turned out great! I removed scratches, scuffs and dirt, and restored missing sections. After trying to "save" the original sky, I replaced it. Then, the entire image was brightened and increased slightly in contrast.
Original card
ABOVE:  This postcard is an example of a high quality hand colored image but a postcard in very poor condition.  The card is not one that most collectors would purchase, but I did because I love the view.
With this one, the most difficult task was dealing with the dirt, and often the margin and caption present the greatest challenge.
Huguenot Church in Charleston SC
Huguenot Church
ABOVE:  I purchased this original postcard for a bride who is getting married in this church in Charleston, South Carolina. As you can see, the original card is so faded, that there is almost no blue left in the sky.
This was not a dramatic restoration, but improvement was needed. I increased the brightness and contrast, and then worked on the contrast and definition in the building itself.  The sky was imported. I always want to avoid using bright colors, keeping it as close as possible to the card in new condition.