History in Colour – Vintage Images Colourized

History in Colour – Vintage Images Colourized


Today’s technology allows us to “colourize” vintage images and glimpse into a past of living colour. See what the world and the people in it really looked like back then, and please like our Facebook page for updates.

**Desktop users – hover over centre of image to show slider which reveals original and colourized images**
**Mobile and tablet users – press Before and After links**



1915 – Black Soldier in the Imperial German Army

An African-born soldier in Germany’s 25th Landwehr Infantry Brigade poses with his squad during World War I.



1910 – American Family

An unidentified portrait of a mixed race US family circa 1910.  Image credit: Columbus Lowndes Public Library.



1935 – London – England vs Germany

On 4 December 1935 England and Germany played their first full international football game on English soil, two years after the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis in 1933.  The match was played at White Hart Lane, the home of Tottenham Hotspur FC., and diplomacy required that the Nazi swastika be flown in the north London sky.

The match was controversial as around a third of Tottenham’s home support was Jewish – families who had fled to England to escape persecution – and their protests were widely reported in the press at the time.

Nevertheless, the match went ahead.  England even accommodated their visitors by foregoing their white home kit and playing in their blue away kit, allowing the Germans to play in their white home kit, which sported the Nazi eagle and swastika emblem.

The match seemed to have been regarded as politically important by the Nazis as it was broadcast throughout Germany and almost 10,000 German supporters travelled across the English Channel to see the game.  They left disappointed as England won 3-0.

1935 - England v Germany - original1935 - England v Germany - colour


1915 – New Zealand troops in Egypt

Early in the First World War, between December 1914 and the Gallipoli landings on 25 April 1915, the first drafts of New Zealand’s Expeditionary Force completed their military training in Egypt.  When not taking part in monotonous marches through the desert, or improving their marksmanship and bayonet skills, they were able to explore the wonders of this ancient land.  Many had their photo taken in front of the pyramids at Giza.  Because the New Zealand government funded the troops’ sightseeing trips – the soldiers came to be dubbed ‘Massey’s Tourists’ after the then prime minister, William Massey.

1915 - New Zealand troops in Egypt - original1915 - New Zealand troops in Egypt - colour


1962 – Winston Churchill in old age

Sir Winston Churchill photographed in 1962, aged 87.  He was travelling in the South of France with his 19 year-old grandaughter, Celia Sandys.

1962 - Churchill in old age - original1962 - Churchill in old age - colour


1892 – Winston Churchill at school

Photograph, taken in 1892, of a 17 year-old Winston Churchill leaning over railings at Harrow School.  Like Churchill, his companion in the picture, George Philip Gurney Hoare, went on to serve in the Boer War and First World War; he was severely wounded on the Western Front in 1915 and died in hospital in England aged 39.

Winston Churchill - originalWinston Churchill


1912 – New Orleans prostitute

Taken by American professional photographer E.J. Bellocq, as part of a series of haunting photographs of the prostitutes of Storyville, New Orleans’ legalized red light district.  They give a fascinating look at not only the prostitutes themselves, but also the interiors of the businesses that housed them.  No information is known about the subjects of the photographs, who posed anonymously.  Storyville was set up to limit prostitution to one area, next to New Orleans’s famous French Quarter, and covered 16 blocks in its entirety until it was shut down in 1917.  Its visitors were mainly U.S. Navy Marines.

1912 - New Orleans prostitute - original1912 - New Orleans prostitute - colour


1899 – Underwater photograph

A sea bed photograph taken by underwater photography pioneer Louis Boutan at Banyuls-sur-Mer, France in 1899.  The person in the diving gear is Boutan’s colleague, oceanographer and biologist Emil Racoviță.  One of Racoviță’s aims seems to be to pose with sea life – he kneels in front of a fish and is grasping a squid – but in his excitement he holds Boutan’s sign (‘Photographie Sous Marine’) upside down.

1899 - Early underwater photograph - original1899 - Early underwater photograph - colour


1839 – London – Parliament Street from Trafalgar Square

The oldest known photograph of London, a daguerreotype taken around September 1839.

In the foreground is the statue of Charles I on horseback, stood in the same location since 1675 and where it still stands today.  In the distance is the royal Banqueting House.  It would be another 20 years before Big Ben would rise at the end of Parliament Street to become an icon of London’s skyline.

The daguerreotype’s long exposure time mean that not many people register on the image.  What appear to be clouds of dust outside of Wright’s Coffee & Chop House show that it was a popular haunt.  Only those who stayed still long enough have been immortalised – two men ‘resting’ at the front of the statue, and a third just discernable in the shade at the back; a top-hatted carriage driver and his passenger in his wide-brimmed summer hat; even a cat on the roof of Williams, the hosier & glover.

1839 - London - Parliament Street from Trafalgar Square - original1839 - London - Parliament Street from Trafalgar Square - colour

(See hi-res colour image of London in 1839 here)


1877 – London – the Dealer In Fancy Ware

A ‘swag dealer’, photographed by John Thomson for a series of articles called Street Life in London published in 1876-77.  One dealer said:
“‘I should say there are 1500 ‘swag’ dealers about London, counting women, boys, and girls… Times are bad, and I have left the streets for a regular job.  My wife minds the barrow.  But bad as times be, it’s wonderful how women will have ornaments.  I have had them come with their youngsters without shoes or stockings, and spend money on ear-drops, or a fancy comb for the hair.’”

1877 - London - the Dealer In Fancy Ware - original1877 - London - the Dealer In Fancy Ware - colour


1864 – Actress Ellen Terry at Age Sixteen

From an 1864 photograph of a young Ellen Terry, an English stage actress who became the leading Shakespearean actress in Britain.  It was taken by Julia Margaret Cameron, known for her portraits of celebrities of the time.  It shows Ellen Terry aged 16, probably on honeymoon on the Isle of Wight following her marriage to artist George Frederick Watts, who was 30 years her senior.  The marriage was brief and unhappy, which may account for the girl’s forlorn expression.

Ellen Terry at Age Sixteen - 1864 - originalEllen Terry at Age Sixteen - 1864 - colour


1877 – London – the Old Omnibus Driver

Photographed by John Thomson for a series of articles called Street Life in London published in 1876-77.  The old Omnibus Driver (in the top hat), a veteran driver of 43 years known as Cast Iron Billy, is complaining about losing passengers to younger, fitter drivers along the same route.  Billy now needs help to mount his perch, while his reins have to be secured to his coat, as he has partially lost the use of his left hand.

1877 - London - the Old Omnibus Driver - original1877 - London - the Old Omnibus Driver - colour


1855 – Crimean War – Captain Longworth-Dames of the Royal Artillery

Captain Thomas Longworth-Dames of the Royal Artillery, taken in 1855 during the Crimean War.  The photograph was part of a series taken by Roger Fenton, one of the earliest war photographers.  The limitations of photographic techniques of the period meant that he was unable to capture the fast moving cavalry charges, pitched battles and explosions; he also avoided making pictures of dead, injured or mutilated soldiers.

Crimea 1855 - Captain Thomas Longworth Dames, Royal Artillery - originalCrimea 1855 - Captain Thomas Longworth Dames, Royal Artillery - colour2



1890 – Family in the Scottish Highlands

A group photo of an unknown family, thought to have been taken in Ross-shire in the Scottish Highlands, circa 1890.  It was discovered with over 200 further images of the same family in an antiques shop in Perthshire, Scotland, by Dawn Parsonage-Kent.  Her collection is called Victorian glass negatives… lost Scotland.

c 1890 - Family in the Scottish Highlands - originalc. 1890 - Family in the Scottish Highlands - colour


1850 – Young Girl with Portrait of George Washington

Daguerreotype by Southworth & Hawes, circa 1850, of a young girl staring at Gilbert Stuart’s famous life portrait of George Washington.


c 1850 - Young Girl with Portrait of George Washington - original

c 1850 - Young Girl with Portrait of George Washington - colour

Hope you enjoyed these images. Thanks for your likes!


Earth's History in 1 Minute

Earth's History in 1 Minute - 4½ billion years in a 1 minute video

Posted by Abroad in the Yard on Friday, 14 August 2015