Serendipity Plus

I admit to being lazy with my Christmas cards this year. For many years, I have been writing notes or printing newsy letters. In the past, I have even put envelopes through the computer, and and added clip art etc. But not this year. Nope. I decided to sign em and send em. I just figure I’ve done my bit for many years, and nothing much new has transpired this year, so everybody can wait another year for the whole enchilada as it were.

But I was in need of a new address. Since my mother died in 2003, I have been sending a Christmas card in her stead to some folks in Montreal. However, it came back to us last year, so that means that our relative of her generation has passed on. So, I thought I’d send one to his daughter, my cousin, but didn’t have her address and couldn’t locate Mom’s old address book.

Like any normal man, I cried to my wife for help. Although she didn’t find it right away (but since has), she did find the old Christmas card box (shown below). That’s serendipitous in itself, but there were more unexpected treasures inside: many old photos, including a tiny framed photo of my grandmother when she was young. It was serendipity heaped upon serendipity as it were.

My grandmother was young an awful long time ago, so I’m going to peg the photo as being taken around 1870. Follow the captions for my feeble attempts to restore the photo. I don’t claim to do this well, but I made my best attempt.

Old Card Box

Cuppa found this ancient Christmas Card box

Old Picture

Inside the box there were treasures in the form of old photos. This little framed one is of my grandmother when she was a little girl: somewhere around 1870, I roughly estimate.

Grandma as Child

I carefully removed the photo from the frame and scanned it.

Grandma as Child

As far as I know, the best way to restore a photo like this is to remove the tinting by converting it to black and white. Then I adjusted the tonality as best I could, but that emphasized many blotches on the paper.

Grandma as Child

What I decided to do next was to replace the background as I couldn't see the point to trying to repair it. I am not sure that I am happy with what I did. Fortunately, I can change my mind and put it back without too much difficulty. Also, if you'll notice her dress and skin, I have also removed some of the blotching and staining.

Grandma as Child

Finally, I recolored the photo to what I thought to be a reasonable sepia tint. Perhaps this would actually be more like the original version back around 140 years ago, but I can't say for sure. I have also cropped the picture to eliminate the messy edges. There would be some merit in keeping the photographer's name at the bottom, and that can be remedied as well if I so choose.

So, you can call me lazy with my Christmas cards, but I think I have paid for my sins with the effort that I put into reclaiming the photo. Don’t you agree? Just nod.

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13 Responses to Serendipity Plus

  1. KGMom says:


    Now, get busy on that Christmas letter. 😉

    Actually, I googled “Bexley Heath” and learned that it’s a place just outside London. Was your grandmother English? You may have previously so informed us, but I do not recall.

  2. QMM says:

    A/C a marvelous job. After you took the smudges out of the skin and dress the wallpaper shows up good. Love the card too. It is fun to look up things and pull out nice serendipitous surprises. Waiting for your Christmas meme, now.

  3. Donna (Texas) says:

    Oh wow, Ac! Beautifully done! I love what you did with it…
    Nodding big!

  4. June Kellum says:

    Oh,my!! What a find, AC! (Cuppa!!)

    You did a great job on this old photo!


  5. Hilary says:


    You did a great job. I couldn’t help but grab the photo and play with it a bit myself. Gotta love Photoshop and others of its ilk.

  6. Col says:

    Oh wow… what a wonderful find! And I love how you have been able to restore the photo of your grandmother. Findings like this are rare gifts.

  7. Nodding, Ac, now get busy and work on those Christmas cards says one who has also been late in getting to things. But, I do enjoy writing cards and since I am sending ones using my own photos it does make it a bit more personal. Now to write all those greetings since the card stock is blank inside – what was I thinking?

    And enjoyed the photos of grandkids with Santa – especially the matching red outfdits – very colorful! The big guy in red could’ve have used a bit more cheerfulness for sure.

  8. Melodee says:

    I love it!

    I am super impressed.

  9. Ruth says:

    Nodding with a smile. Well done.

  10. Ginnie says:

    You did an amazingly great job on that photo of your Grandmother. Do you have any remembrances of her?

    • AC says:

      Yes, I have fairly clear memories of her, Ginnie as she was the longest living of my grandparents. After we moved from Montreal to Toronto in 1962, she followed us a year later. She took a room near us and would come to our place by taxi every day. She died sometime around 1965 at the age of 88. I have the data somewhere, but that’s approximate.

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