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Center for
Civil War Photography


National Stereoscopic Association

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LA 3-D Club

Thanks to Bob Zeller for providing these images.  He provided the link to the first image from the Library of Congress and then scanned the rest from his personal collection. 

During the Civil War it was possible to pay a premium for color cards.  These were hand tinted by an artist one at a time.  These cards where rare at the time and are even more rare today.  The example of quality varied greatly from poor to very good.  Below are four cards that were tinted during the Civil War and then our modern restoration and coloring today.

This first image of a hospital scene is probably one of the finest examples of hand tinting.  Notice little details on both sides such as the blood stained wounds and the straw hats

Savage Station

The modern version of the same image again try’s to get the fine detail, but it is brighter and not quite so somber looking as the original.  Also, notice that there are no blood stained wounds.  When closely inspecting the original negative there was no evidence of it in the image, so the modern restoration and tinting is more true to the scene without the embellishments above.


From one of the best examples, to probably one of the worst.  This tinted image does not show the same skill that is evidenced above.  Remember all of these where done by hand possibly from a master image showing how to lay out the color.  Here we see a less seasoned artist that just puts a few hints of color and leaves the scene lacking detail.  Note however that they still felt it important to add blood stains that did not exist.

dead at antitem

The modern image brings out detail that was completely lost.  Here we see a fourth soldier hiding just on the other side of the fence that was washed out in the period tinting.  Not only does the grass look more realistic, but the bodies also do not have the odd appearance they had.  The blood stains again are gone since there is no evidence. Also, note that clouds were added to the sky to give it a more realistic look.


Here you see a great example of tinting.  Even the sky has a magic quality to it.  The artist carefully tried to add touches such as grass on the hill, a shrub to the right and trees in the background.  While they turned out well, they are not exactly accurate.  See the modern version for more information.

Dutch Gap

When we look at the same image a few things are clear, there was no grass on the hill.  The level of detail in these images is very good, even allowing you to see fingernails on a persons hands and individual blades of grass.  There was no evidence of grass when looking at the enlargements so it was not added to the modern version.  From the look of the trees in the background and the bush to the right, there is no evidence of leaves.  While it was recorded as being taken in April, the men are wearing winter coats.  If it was in winter, this might account for the absence of leaves.  Our goal is to be accurate to the image, not a previous interpretation.


The final image repeats the sky coloring from the previous image.  Bob Zeller noted: “This is one of the finest tinted view I own. The Anthony tinters used something of a template in that most of the Anthony tinted views I own featured a blue sky, but orangeish horizon line.”  Note here that grass was added to the side of the hill on the left but not the right.  Some portions of the lower right side of the right image appear to have no tinting at all.

Ponder House copy

Finally our version brightens the image again and helps to show some of the detail. Small details such as battle damage to the side of the house had to be carefully separated from spots and damage to the image over time.  This was done by superimposing the two images during restoration and then carefully determining which was battle damage (and left in the image) from which was damage to the image.  Note that the grass on the hill side was removed and small plants that are visible were colored.