Originally Posted by ChicagoJack
I'm no vintage racquet sleuth, but I do know something about color correction and the print/photography industry of the early 80's. If you look at Mac's eyes, the shadow areas of his hair, and the inside of mouth, all you see is black, no shape, no detail, just black. The color has shifted, the subtle shadow tones have compressed, from dark brown to black everywhere in the photo, not just the dark wood. If you look closely at the tip end of the V-shaped dark wood reinforcement in the photo above, you can see that, despite the awful tone compression, there is still a little wood color managing to show through. It's not quite as dark as the area that is a true black, the part in the throat that says "Maxply McEnroe" Notice this occurs with all of the images here in the thread that are scans of 80's printed material, where as the images that were never printed, the images that are original raw photography, look completely different. It is about the printing process, not the racquet.
In an effort to keep the total amount of ink hitting paper low, (too much ink, especially on crappy paper, creates a big mess) it's a common practice today to do what is called under color removal, and or grey component replacement. What this means is that in dark shadow areas, you remove a percentage of cyan, magenta, and yellow ink and replace it with black ink. Back in the 80's, the pro color jockeys did color separation by hand, by cutting masks and what not. It often yielded a result which, at the end of the day, was not an accurate depiction of real life color. This was especially true if the person working on the job, had no idea what the actual color was supposed to be (which I think is highly likely in this case).
Today we have computers and icc profiles to manage color from raw photography to press, and while the objective is the same, (keep the total amount of ink low, and appropriate to paper quality) the colors are much more true to life. But color management for press back in the 80's was highly inaccurate, more art and intuition than science for sure.