Which features are common across the three and which are different?
Scroll below the photographs to learn more...
The first and oldest image is the one marked 'Cowie, Upper Largo and Lundin Links' in the lower right corner. This relates to Peter Cowie, the chemist and dates the postcard to circa 1905. It shows the Crusoe Hotel with its original roof style prior to the 1911 fire which resulted in extensive repair work including the creation of a new flat roof. This flat roof is evident in the second postcard scene. But close inspection of the second postcard, entitled 'Largo from Lundin Pier', shows that many elements of its scene are exactly the same as the first postcard - including the fishing boat tied up at the pier with the tall masts to the left of the hotel, the old footbridge in front of the viaduct, the people standing on the end of the pier and the two boats either side of them.
The fishing boat rounding the pier end is KY 56, which is Fisher Lass. This was not a Largo boat but belonged to Andrew Taylor of Buckhaven. So striking was the image of Fisher Lass, that it was reused again in the third postcard scene. This final image dates to a time after the roof of the Crusoe Hotel had changed once again. The flat roof proved to be leaky and so a pitched roof replaced it in the mid 1930s. In this image you can also see the road bridge over the Keil burn.
All the photographs were taken for Valentines of Dundee - the printing company that became Scotland's largest manufacturer of picture postcards. Valentines hired a team of photographers to travel the country capturing local views for postcards, which would then be sold directly to local newsagents, Post Offices and other businesses, such as Cowie the chemist. A team of travelling salespeople used catalogues to promote the images to every town and village. But, of course, local scenes did not remain unchanged over time. The addition of a new building, for example, would require a photographer to be dispatched to take new photos. Sometimes a new image would not be as appealing as the one it was replacing and so an amalgamation was created in an early form of image editing.
You can see by careful studying of the pair of cropped images below, that the rowing boat and buildings to the right are the same, as is the railway bridge and the Belmont Hotel building beyond the roof of the Crusoe Hotel. However, the Crusoe Hotel with its new flat roof has been added to the version on the right-hand side. Some retouching has had to be done immediately above the flat roof to fill in the gaps left by the removal of the former chimney stacks. Some rework has also been done to the pier to disguise the join on this composite image.
When the appearance of the landmark hotel changed once again in the 1930s, another new photograph was required for the Valentine's postcard catalogue. The image captured in the third postcard was perhaps deemed to be lacking in interest. In an attempt to romanticise the view, the pre-existing image of Fisher Lass was cropped and super-imposed, this time over the end of the pier. The addition of a fishing boat with billowing sail must have been appealing to the tourists, even though by this time such vessels were no longer seen at Largo.
At one time Valentines had a stock of over 30,000 images. Often the same view was used for many years. Artists were employed to make some images more saleable. Scenes might be hand-tinted, snow might be added to make a wintry view, clouds might be painted onto a featureless sky and so on. Unattractive features might be removed and (as in this case) striking features might be added to a mundane scene. And so, Fisher Lass appeared to continue to sail long after the actual vessel had ceased to exist.