March 20, 2009

The Golden Hinde

Like many people out there, Im a huge fan of the Photography of The John Hinde studio. Famous for being one of the first postcard companys to depict the world in full colour.

I dont know what the allure of technicolor is, but whether Im watching The Wizard of Oz or Charlie & the Chocolate factory, I just want to jump right on in and join in all that fun.

The postcard of The London Bobby (SL63) is one of my favourites and more unusual in that its large format 11 3/4 X 9 1/2 "(297 x 238mm) as opposed to the regular 6 X 4" (150 x 105mm).

I had always enjoyed browsing through the postcard boxes at fairs and boot sales looking for those fully saturated, coloured gems, but it wasnt until the release of Martin Parrs fantastic book on Hinde, that I took note of the name .You can view some of the images from the book Our True intent is all for your delight here. The book chronicles the unique British Holiday camp, Butlins between the years 1960 & 1970. Its well worth a look and dare I say, worth purchasing.

Hindes attention to detail is staggering, as was his desire to get the composition right. On leaving the circus in 1954, he went round Ireland with his camera and a saw. He was so meticulous, that should any part of the view offend him, he would mask it with freshly cut rhododendron bushes. Later he used an Italian company to retouch and recolour the original prints according to David Noble, one of Hindes photographers at the time.

Today Hindes cards are getting more expensive to pick up. Gone are the days when people wanted a few pence for one, but theyre still out there, and if youre lucky you can get them for 50p. The Butlins cards have become more sought after since the books publication, but its well worth looking for some of the quirkier ones. Im rather fond of the Irish Singers at Bunratty Castle (no2./287) photographed by Elmar Ludwig. Im not sure what the retouching house did, but some of those women look like they should be on the set of a Hammer Horror film. Jamaicas Lovely Coconuts 2JM 45 is another treasure, one day id like that enlarged poster size!

There are hundreds of Hinde cards out there and Ill post some more at a later date, but before leaving today, here are a few of his really early colour photographs from his 1948 book British Circus Life, published by Harrap. Interestingly, Hinde became a circus publicity manager in 1944 and started his own company, “The John Hinde Show” in 1954. It was here, he met his wife, the trapeeze artist Antoina Falnoga. Hinde died in 1997, his obituary is at The Independent.

More about the circus another time!

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