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Historic Hand-Colored Post Cards

Posted on 05/12/2015 by Leeann Donnelly Comments(3)

In late May, we turn our gardening attention to a friendly competition taking place in a corner of the Walled Garden. Here, a jury gathers in Biltmore’s historic rose garden to evaluate roses bred by professionals and beginners on fragrance, overall health and rigor and ability to repeat bloom. It’s part of the Biltmore International Rose Trials Weekend, set for May 29-30.

Roses are rooted in Biltmore’s past. The rose garden was thought to have been used to promote the estate when Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil, and her husband, John Cecil, first opened the doors of Biltmore House for public tours in 1930. At that time, Chauncey Beadle, a horticulturalist and the estate’s superintendent, worked with a post card company to produce a set of hand-colored post cards from photographs taken by George Masa, known for his documentation of and preservation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Because color photographic film was rare at the time, it was a popular practice to hand-color them.

The photo above features one of the hand-colored postcards that Chauncey Beadle worked to have produced, and this one below is Mr. Masa’s original black-and-white photograph. There were 26 post cards in the complete set. 

Mr. Masa’s original black-and-white photograph

The photograph below is also one by Mr. Masa. It gives a more full view of the rose garden, with the Conservatory in the background.

1930 Rose Garden

Interestingly enough, when our Public Relations team was out in the garden on a photo shoot for WNC Magazine last year, photographer Christopher Shane shot the next photo. Little did he or our team know that he was capturing nearly the same angle of the garden at peak bloom. Except for the English Ivy above the windows of the Conservatory, it’s a near mirror image of the one shot in 1930.

2015 Rose Garden

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Posted on 05/29/2015 By sbell

John, There were 26 in the complete set. What a neat find!

Posted on 05/23/2015 By John W

I recently found a set of these postcards at the flea market in Nashville TN. I have 25 post cards 1-26 except for number 2. Do you know how many are in the complete set?

Posted on 05/18/2015 By Rebecca in Asheville W

These postcards are beautiful. I love the roses at the Biltmore and the postcards would be a nice keepsake. Looking forward to the Biltmore International Rose Trials!

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