Since I began collection early P.E.I. postcards I have learned that it is not unusual for the same images to appear on cards produced by a number of different publishers. It is often not clear if the photos were simply copied from one card to another or were different images from the same vantage point. Sometimes the images are simply cropped and so appear to be slightly different. For example most of the Warwick Bros. & Rutter cards had an aspect which allowed for a title bar to appear at the card bottom. If those images were printed on a card where the full face of the card was used they would have to be cropped so that the image filled the space.
However sometimes the changes between seemingly identical cards are not so easily explained. A case in point is a card dating from about 1908 showing the northern end of Government Pond in Charlottetown taken just where the brook from Spring Park enters the pond under a bridge under Euston Street as it turns into Brighton Road. I first became aware of the card when searching for images illustrating the architectural works of Charles B. Chappell. The building to the right is a house he designed for Charlottetown photographer (and sometime postcard producer) James A.S. Bayer. The card was printed by the Pugh Manufacturing Company in Toronto
This Pugh card carries the same image as a Rumsey & Co. card shown below and is identical except for the title lettering and the artistic license taken in the colouring ….or is it?
Clearly the image is the same and the cropping is within a hairbreadth. Even the ducks are in the exactly the same position.
Except that on the Rumsey card one of the ducks has completely vanished with barely a ripple left behind!
Another difference between the two cards becomes visible only through close examination and may be spotted in the enlarged detail. Just showing and tantalizingly undecipherable, the image reveals a card title in block white letters which has been almost re-touched out of sight. Although skillfully done a shadow of the original remains.
So, was the duck removed from the Pugh …or was the duck added? In any event this was a very high quality alteration and must have taken a good deal of time and effort. And whatever the case, why bother? My suspicion is that there is a third postcard out there, probably from a different publisher – an ur-card if you will. However even if it is discovered it may not go far in revealing the bizarre secret of the missing Brighton Pond duck.
Note – The Rumsey firm, is now the subject of a brief company history recently published on the Toronto Postcard Club website found here.