If you are familiar with early postcards of Western North Carolina, you’ve probably seen this image before. But which one did you see? There were numerous variations.
The photograph is titled “Above the Clouds” (title slightly visible at left lower corner in box) published by Lindsey & Brown, Land of the Sky, Views of WNC, Class K-Miscellaneous, Section 4-Mt Mitchell & Vicinity, #834. Lindsey and Brown published “Scenic Views of Western North Carolina” in 1890.
Version B below is a similar image but adds an unidentified mountain range superimposed (in the darkroom) against the skyline. This version was published by Asheville Photo Co, as part of a series, “Views of WNC/ Views of Asheville & Vicinity”. Lindsey & Brown’s title and identifying number in the lower left corner of Version A have been blocked out in Version B. Both version A and B include the silhouettes of two men superimposed (in the darkroom) on the rocks in the foreground. Asheville Photo Co. at 32 Patton Avenue was listed in the CD of 1896-97, with S. A. McCanless as sole proprietor. This would appear to date the Asheville Photo Co. print to around 1896.
Below is a colorized post card that include both the men and the extra mountain range. No publisher information; manufacturers were the Hugh C. Leighton Co., Portland, ME and it was printed in Frankfort. Germany.
Below is a copy print version published by H. Taylor Rogers which includes the added mountain range in the background but not the figures of the two men.
Version C below shows the image as doctored for publication in the Asheville City Directory for 1896-97. The men and the distant mountain range are present, as well as unnatural looking clouds behind the far mountains. This version also dates the original image to before 1896. Was the original photograph ever published without the men and the added rear mountain range? We haven’t found it yet.
This research was done several years ago by previous Preservation Clerk of the North Carolina Room, Betsy Murray. I think after seeing the image pop up in various places, her keen eye made her begin to notice the subtle differences in the various photographs.
SO, imagine our surprise when the North Carolina Room received a post card in the mail, of yet another version of this photograph! As others have done before him, he tinkered with it a tad.
The sender was none other than our very own Board Member of the Friends of the North Carolina Room (and artist in many different genres) Terry Taylor. Note Terry’s fitting updated title, “Summer 2016.”
Post by Zoe Rhine, Librarian North Carolina Room