Cinephon movie camera – from a time when film was film

Cinephon 35mm motion picture camera

It’s been quite a while since the last Neverseen post. Subscribers will have noticed that there have been a lot of “curios” and not too many books on the site this past year. More books soon – but in the meantime, here’s a scarce curio – a 1930s Cinephon 35mm motion picture camera set, made in what was then Czecho-Slovakia. As we progress at speed through the digital revolution, celluloid film is fading away – apart from its use as an archive medium, where it’s still enormously important. It seems to me that there is an increasing sense of affection and respect for the ingenious products of analog technology – from Dansette record players to antique typewriters. Both of those examples can still easily be used, although a 35mm motion picture camera requires more determination to actually operate. But anyone can admire such machines. For those of us who grew up with film, there’s a certain nostalgia. For a new generation too, there is perhaps a sense of loss at what we’ve left behind, and for some a keen interest in these relics of a world they never knew.

Enquiries – further details, price: s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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Cinephon BH camera, c.1939. Cinephon Co., Prague, Czecho-Slovakia

Manufacturer (Vaclav Ryšán, Prague) delivered 03.04.1941 to UFA Berlin.
[information from V.Vait]

Cinephon PRAH – IX – 187

Inside: “BH 349”

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Three-lens turret. Lenses:

ASTRO-BERLIN No.35432 GAUSS-TACHAAR F:2 75mm

ASTRO-BERLIN No.30335 GAUSS-TACHAAR F:2 32mm

ASTRO-BERLIN No.32493 GAUSS-TACHAAR F:2 50mm

Viewfinder: “7x No. 31917”

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No restoration or cleaning by the present owner. The lens glasses look good. The electrical status is not known, since I am not able to test the motor. Comes with the original canvas magazine bag (not shown here) containing three spare magazines (plus one in the camera), lens hood, tripod, and tripod bag.

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For more details, please email s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

The world of Infrared

infraSCAN007 finalHastings, England – At Rest

For fifty years, Gordon Trewinnard has been taking infrared photographs on 35mm film – both black-and-white and colour – in many different parts of the world.

With infrared photography, the film is sensitive to near-infrared light. Infrared photographs feature very dark skies which result in less infrared light in shadows and dark reflections of those skies from water. Clouds stand out strongly. These wavelengths also penetrate a few millimetres into skin and give a milky look to portraits, although eyes often look black.

Gordon explains: ‘Infrared film reacts differently from other colour emulsions to Cold, Heat, Humidity and Altitude, making it very difficult to get consistent results. For example, you can expose one frame exactly the same as the previous one and get a different result. It’s also necessary to be very accurate with exposures in the snow, desert, and in the tropics – and it’s essential to get the temperature correct during  the development stage.’

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Infrared photography became popular with enthusiasts in the 1930s when suitable film was introduced commercially. Colour film appeared in the 1960s. The false colour and unusual tone effects that can be produced with infra-red film are very distinctive.

Some examples are immediately striking as being different in colour and tone, others are much less obvious in their effects. Some of the more subtle pictures have a real metallic charm about them which is impossible to obtain with regular colour emulsions, thus making all the effort worthwhile.

In 2007 Kodak announced that production of the 35mm version of their colour infrared film (Ektachrome Professional Infrared/EIR) would cease as there was insufficient demand, and with his stocks of film now depleted Gordon has now decided to stop taking infrared photographs. He is now making available a selection of those pictures for sale – some are unique positive transparencies, and others are b/w prints.

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Non-exclusive, non-transferable reproduction rights are included with the purchase. Gordon asks that his name is credited when the pictures are used on the web or in print. For further details, please contact s-herbert@easynet.co.uk with an indication of your interest.

Scroll down for more pictures. (The name does not appear on the actual transparencies)

imgSCAN024 copySwiss horse trough

imgSCAN022-copy copyTable mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

imgSCAN023 copySwiss vineyard, Regensberg

imgSCAN021 copyPetersham cemetery, England

imgSCAN012 copyEgypt, Nile Barges

imgSCAN013 copyA field in England, with Horse

New York World’s Fair 1939 – in captivating Kodachrome

New York World’s Fair 1939 – in captivating Kodachrome

These 35mm Kodachrome slides were taken by an unknown skilled amateur, at the New York World’s Fair. They are sharp, in good condition, and mounted in period glass mounts. Each one is unique, Kodachrome not being intended for making duplicates or amateur prints, and so far as we know have never been published.

Kodachrome was a brand name for a colour reversal film introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1935. It was one of the first successful colour materials and was used for both cinematography and still photography. Because of the growth and popularity of alternative photographic materials, its complex processing requirements and the widespread transition to digital photography, Kodachrome lost its market share. Its manufacturing was discontinued in 2009 and its processing ended in December 2010.

The 1939–40 New York World’s Fair, which covered the 1,216 acres of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, was the second largest American world’s fair of all time.

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This night shot shows the Ford company’s Road of Tomorrow pavilion. The fair was divided into differently themed zones, such as the Transportation Zone, the Communications and Business Systems Zone, the Food Zone, the Government Zone, and so forth.

Virtually every structure erected on the fairgrounds was extraordinary, and many of them were experimental in many ways. Architects were encouraged by their corporate or government sponsors to be creative, energetic and innovative. Novel building designs, materials and furnishings were the norm.

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Outdoor public lighting was at the time of a very limited and pedestrian nature, perhaps consisting of simple incandescent pole lamps in a city and nothing in the country. Electrification was still very new and had not reached everywhere in the US. The fair was the first public demonstration of several lighting technologies that would become common in future decades. These ‘night shot’ slides show the state-of-the art lighting, (with a brilliant blue being one of the Fair’s official colours).

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In the slide of the American Jubilee show the photographer has given a time exposure to ensure that the lights reproduce well.This has the effect of blurring the people walking past – all except one static couple in the distance, captured as they gaze in wonder at the display.

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The Billy Rose Aquacade was a spectacular musical and water extravaganza foreshadowing the form of many popular Hollywood musicals in the ensuing years. The show was presented in a special amphitheater seating 10,000 people and included an orchestra to accompany the spectacular synchronized swimming performance. It featured Johnny Weismuller and Eleanor Holm, two of the most celebrated swimmers of the era, and dazzled fairgoers with its lighting and cascades and curtains of water, pumped in waterfalls at 8000 gallons a minute.
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John Hix’s “Strange as It Seems” appeared as a syndicated cartoon feature in 1928. In its heyday, it was reported that the comic strip was syndicated in over 1,300 newspapers and became a familiar brand to millions around the globe for its comic strips, books, radio shows and film shorts. In 1939, the Hix brothers outmaneuvered Ripley’s ‘Believe it Or Not!) for an exhibit at the New York World’s Fair.

The lower slide shows the “Frozen Alive Girls” frontage, with the block of “ice” in which the girls were to be entombed, naked, being clearly visible as the barker ‘tells the tale’. They’re clearly not too thrilled at the prospect.

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A rare interior colour shot of the British Empire pavilion.

(More slides to be added soon.) Price of slides and further details on application.  s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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The [sad] Case for Spirit Photography

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Plate from The Case for Spirit Photography

I recently attended a guided tour by exhibition curator Gaia Tedone, of her exhibition Twixt Two Worlds, at the Towner Gallery Eastbourne. The exhibits include a series of ‘spirit photographs’ by 1920s medium William Eglinton.

Introducing the exhibit, Gaia commented that these photographs were printed at a size that would fit into a large pocket, perhaps so that the owner could always have these ‘appearances’ of their dear departed with them, as a source of comfort. I had already come to the same conclusion about my copy of Arthur Conan Doyle’s book The Case for Spirit Photography.
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The Case for Spirit Photography. Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. London : Hutchinson & Co. First edition. Undated [1922]. Original printed paper covers. pages: x, [11], 12-110, [1 rear advert]; illustrated with photographs.

When I acquired it, the book seemed to have the kind of wear that’s usually found with old motor car manuals. The cover and outer pages were very stained, worn, patched, and heavily dog-eared. Many sections of the text had been underlined in pencil.

Spirit photography started in the 1860s. One of the later practitioners was William Hope (1863–1933). Psychical researcher Harry Price revealed that photographs by Hope, who was a key figure in the ‘’Crewe Circle’ of spiritualists, were fraudulent. Despite this, Hope still retained a noted following including Arthur Conan Doyle, who refused to accept any evidence that Hope was a fraud and went to great lengths to clear his name, including writing the major portion of this book. (Conan Doyle wrote the first 6 Chapters, pages 11- 61. There are 110 pages in all.)
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It has often been asked, how could the person with intelligence sharp enough to have created Sherlock Holmes – and well versed in the mechanics of photography – have believed that the spirit photographs of the era were genuine manifestations of the dead? The answer seems to be that his grief, following the deaths of several members of his family, were such that he needed to have faith in the afterworld, and his faith overcame the evident falsity of these images. Indeed, the even more ridiculous Cottingley Fairies apparently charmed him into acceptance of their veracity. There’s something so very sad about all this.

An owner’s name, Alexander McCorquodale, is on the Contents page: Maybe not the gentleman of that name who was the first husband of ‘novelist’ Barbara Cartland, but apparently the person who had such a desperate attachment to this book.

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The cover has been washed and restored, the pages gently cleaned and tidied, and the broken spine re-glued. There are still some smudges and stains, and evidence of folded page corners. I’ve left the pencil underlinings; perhaps they have some research value.

This first English edition (the first of all editions) sells for around £200 – £650 online. Bearing in mind the condition:

Price: £120.00 plus postage. Enquiries: s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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Louis Wain, genre photographs, but no fairies

identifier 2014096 INFANTS’ MAGAZINE

The Infants’ Magazine Annual for 1904, being a collection of the 12 monthly issues for 1903. Vol. XXXVIII Publisher S.W. Partridge & Co., London. Hardback, colour cover. Size: 177 x 223 mm. 190+ pages, with illustrations on every page, several in colour (black/blue/red).

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Prominent in this annual is the work of Louis Wain, famous cat artist. He contributes the main title page and numerous sketches throughout. More unusually, a photograph of the artist also appears.

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I was also struck by the fact that almost all of the photographs of child studies in this book are credited to Miss K. Grant. It must have been unusual at that time for a woman to have had the facilities, presumably some kind of studio, to produce genre pictures like this. The simple portraits remind me of some of the sentimental child studies by photographer and magic lantern slide publisher Owen Graystone Bird, from the same era.

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The narrative scenes (see below), some with painted backdrops, are reminiscent of the Life Model magic lantern slides popular at that time, though cropped much tighter.

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The subjects of the painted backdrops, representing a poor person’s kitchen, for instance, are different from those in a typical Victorian / Edwardian portrait studio. I wonder whether anyone has researched Miss Grant? Without a complete first name, or location, that would be difficult.

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With the adoption of halftone photographic images in periodicals becoming much more widespread about this time, these photographs are evidently a challenge to the more traditional artworks of the same subjects. This can be clearly seen here with the similarities between Grandma’s Valentine (photo) and the following page Granny’s Recovery (painting); and Spring Flowers (drawing), and the opposite page A Secret (photo).

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Another point of interest is the lack of fairies (gnomes, elves, whatever). With the exception of The Fairies’ Postmen, I can’t find any.

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The book is stuffed with pictures (photos, drawings) and stories of dolls on what seems like every other page, but the fairies that would soon become so ubiquitous in children’s books haven’t yet arrived – here, anyway. Perhaps this was due to the shadow of publisher Samuel William Partridge (1810-1903) – by then retired, and who died the year these magazines were printed – who was a devout evangelical Christian and probably couldn’t be doing with fairies. Maybe it would take the imminent appearance of Tinkerbell to ensure frequent appearances of the fairy folk in periodicals and annuals.

The Infants’ Magazine is not a very scarce title, but finding particular issues – especially in good condition – can be difficult. Apparently people used to give these books to young children to play with. (Note: The BL has it as The Infant’s Magazine.)

Condition: Generally good, as shown. Pages tanned, as expected. The binding is very loose, but still holding everything together.

Price: £32.00 plus postage. Enquiries: s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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Making matches, c.1900

Identifier: 2014093 MATCH MAKING LANTERN SLIDES

As I struck a Swan Vesta match to light a bunch of sparklers for this year’s Guy Fawkes celebrations it occurred to me that we hardly ever use matches these days. Fewer open fires, cheap petrol lighters for lighting cigarettes (and less smoking), no paraffin stoves. Those little wooden splints were once a ubiquitous part of everyday life, and produced in huge numbers – millions per hour from one factory. Famously, the Match Girls’ Strike of 1888, ‘caused by the poor working conditions in the match factory, including fourteen-hour work days, poor pay, excessive fines and the severe health complications of working with white phosphorus, such as phossy jaw…’ [Wikipedia] invigorated the campaign against the use of white phosphorous, which was eventually made illegal. I wonder in what context these slides were most often shown?

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Matchmaking. Fifteen glass 3.25inch x 3.25inch photographic magic lantern slides, showing the industrial process of making matches and matchboxes. Newton & Co, Covent Garden, London. These slides were made c.1912, from photographs taken at that time or a few years earlier.

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I bought these slides around 30 years ago, and I have not seen another example of any of them since. They comprise an extraordinary record of a German match-making factory around 1900, showing the various areas where different parts of the processes were carried out. The printed text commentary states that “Red phosphorous is now greatly used instead of the white kind, and is much freer from dangerous fumes.” The type of phosphorous used by this particular factory is not stated. When we examine these images the dangers of exposed machinery make us wince, but they were of course universal at this time.

 

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This is evidently the same set that was advertised by York & Son, with a reading included in the booklet Glassware [and other titles. n.d.]. A copy of the reading has survived, and is listed on the Lucerna website, which can be accessed by members of the Magic Lantern Society (UK). Non-members can contact database editor Richard Crangle for details of how to obtain the reading.

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This set comprises 15 of the original 19 slides. The fifteen slides present are:

1. Slicing into layers

2. Cutting into splints

3. Cutting up remnants into splints

4. Sorting the splints

5. Piling the splints in uniform heaps

6. Putting the splits into dipping-frames

7. Paraffining and sulphuring

10. Cutting chipwood for match-boxes

11. Making the sides of the boxes without the bottoms

13. Mechanical manufacture of the drawers or insides

14. Mechanical Manufacture of cover or envelope of drawer

15. Sanding the sides of the boxes

16. Laying the coat of antimony on the box and drying it

17. Box-drying apparatus, &c

18. Boxing the matches

Numbers and titles are written in manuscript in white ink on the black paper masks, but are in some cases illegible.

A rare set. I do not know of another. The images above this point have been cropped to show details. Uncropped pictures of each slide are shown below.

Condition: Generally very good. No cracked glasses apart from one small corner crack to one slide, outside of the image area. Browning of image edges in some cases. Some passe-partout edging paper has been replaced, some is missing.

Price: £280 plus postage.      Enquiries: s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

Uncropped slide images (in no special order):

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The suffragette and the policemen

Magic lantern slide, Suffragette and policemen, c.1908-1914. English, publisher: Newton & Company, 72 Wigmore Street, London, W. Cinematographer [image taken from 35mm film] not known. Size: 3.25 x 3.25 inches.

When I found this glass slide, the image looked vaguely familiar. Research uncovered what I thought was the same photograph, but it was very slightly different – taken a fraction of a second later. Then it occurred to me that both pictures were printed from a strip of motion picture film. The footage is here (at 1:33).

I’ve not been able to identify the suffragette, but hundreds were arrested in the years immediately before the First World War. The actual slide dates from the period.

Those who lectured on the women’s suffrage movement, in both Britain and the USA, are known to have often used lantern slides – for example:

‘In February 1910 Bertha Mason (prominent activist) gave, as a lecture to the Bath NUWSS society, an account, accompanied by lantern slides, of the forerunners of the contemporary suffrage movement. She also gave this “limelight lecture”, which was described as “Pictures of unique interest to the forerunners of the movement, the advance guard, the parliamentary champions, the present day workers, election incidents”, to members of the Croydon branch of the NUWSS and to the Mansfield Suffrage Society. It was eventually published in book form in 1912…’ [The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928, by Elizabeth Crawford]

The particular address for Newton & Co. appears to have been first used in 1912, so this slide was most likely produced c.1912-14.

Slides of the Suffrage movement are difficult to find today. Very good condition.

Price: £25.00 plus postage s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

The First World War in (real) Colour

identifier: BATTLE OF MARNE 2014071

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“Le portfolio-photo-couleurs” Les Champs de Bataille de la Marne. Photographies directes en-couleurs (Fac-similes sans retouches de plaques autochromes). Text et illustrations de Gervais-Courtellement. L’edition Française illustrée. 30 rue de Provence, Paris. 1915 edition [originally published in parts, in 1914-15]. Half-leather binding. 196 pages.

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This is a scarce and historic, large (320 x 240mm) book of colour photographs taken during and shortly after the Battle of the Marne. These images were projected by magic lantern, at the “Palais de l’autochromie” in Paris. Tomorrow it will be 100 years to the day that the battle ended.

My generation grew up immersed in documentary images of both World Wars, in black-and-white. I remember being amazed by the colour footage of WW2 that gradually emerged during the ‘80s in particular. I wrote a review of Victory in Europe by Max Hastings (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1985) for the British Journal of Photography. It’s a book filled with haunting images – frame enlargements from Kodachrome footage shot by American director George Stevens as his troupe moved through France and into Germany. Later, television programmes such as The Second World War in Colour (1999) made such material much better known, though the visual veracity was later diluted with World War II in Colour (2008/9), which included much colourised footage. These programmes were followed by the inevitable World War 1 in Colour, with exclusively colourised scenes. Genuine colour stills of the First World War have featured in many books in recent years, including Taschen’s recent The First World War in Colour by Peter Walther, which includes autochromes by Jules Gervais-Courtellemont. Inevitably, as time goes by these genuine colour images will be subsumed into the plethora of colourised pictures of WW1 that have been created recently, the special qualities of these poignant autochromes lost to most who see them.

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The Battle of the Marne (French: Première bataille de la Marne) (also known as the Miracle of the Marne) was a First World War battle fought from 5–12 September 1914. It resulted in an Allied victory against the German Army under Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke the Younger. The battle was the culmination of the German advance into France and pursuit of the Allied armies which followed the Battle of the Frontiers in August, which had reached the eastern outskirts of Paris. The counterattack of six French field armies and the British Expeditionary Force (‘BEF’) along the Marne River forced the German Imperial Army to abandon its push on Paris and retreat north-east, leading to the ‘Race to the Sea’ and setting the stage for four years of trench warfare on the Western Front. The battle was an immense strategic victory for the Allies, wrecking Germany’s bid to ‘unhinge’ the Verdun-Marne-Paris line in their first campaign of the war and forcing them to breach it directly in their next campaign against France.

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The Autochrome is an early additive colour photography process patented in 1903 by the Lumière brothers in France. First marketed in 1907, it was the principal colour photography process in use before the advent of subtractive color film in the mid-1930s. A glass plate is coated with a random mosaic of microscopic grains of potato starch dyed red-orange, green, and blue-violet, which act as colour filters. Lampblack fills the spaces between grains, and a black-and-white panchromatic silver halide emulsion is coated on top of the filter layer. The use of an additional orange-yellow filter in the camera was required to block ultraviolet light and restrain the effects of violet and blue light, parts of the spectrum to which the emulsion was overly sensitive. The plate was first developed into a negative image but not “fixed”. The silver forming the negative image was chemically removed, and the remaining silver halide exposed to light and developed, producing a positive image. When viewed by transmitted light, each bit of the silver image acted as a micro-filter, allowing more or less light to pass through the corresponding colored starch grain, recreating the original proportions of the three colors. At normal viewing distances, the light coming through the individual grains blended together in the eye, reconstructing the colour of the light photographed through the filter grains. The plates were viewed by projection, or on a light box. The mosaic of glowing dots on glass gives autochromes the look of pointillist paintings. [adapted from Wikipedia and other online sources.] In recent years, there has been a revival of interest. Groups in France, working with the original Lumière machinery and notes, and a few individuals in the United States, are attempting to recreate the process. Very few complete successes have resulted. Recently, the process was recreated by the photographer Frédéric Mocellin.

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Jules Gervais-Courtellemont (1863–1931) was a French photographer, famous for taking autochromes during World War I. He was born in the province of Seine-et-Marne, near Paris, but grew up in Algeria, where he developed a passion for the pre-colonial Orient and devoted most of his professional career in search of the exotic. In 1894 converted to Islam prior to making a pilgrimage to Mecca. Images collected in Turkey, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, Spain, India, Morocco and China formed the basis for his popular illustrated lectures, which he illustrated with lantern slides. With the outbreak of World War I, Courtellemont returned to his home province to record the war. In 1911, Courtellemont had opened the “Palais de l’autochromie” in Paris – an exhibition hall, studio, laboratory, and lecture hall with a seating capacity of 250. Courtellemont would project his autochromes both of the Orient and, after 1914, of the war, particularly the Marne battlefields. These lectures proved to be so popular that Courtellemont issued a twelve-part series later bound in book form called The Battle of Marne and later a four-part series entitled The Battle of Verdun. These are the first books about war ever published in colour. Courtellemont’s work displays a tight sense of composition, an acute awareness of the interplay of light on color, and a haunting familiarity of symbolism. Landscapes are carefully composed, with due attention to lighting and placement within the picture frame. He used symbols such as the lonely cross and the charred tree for dramatic effect. [adapted from Wikipedia]. The most noteworthy book about his work is by B. De Pastre and E. Devos (eds.), Les couleurs du voyage: L’oeuvre photographique de Jules Gervais-Courtellemont (published in 2002).

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To quote from Wikipedia: ‘Vintage reproductions of Autochromes in old books and magazines have often been noticeably hand-adjusted by the photoengravers in an effort to compensate for some of the difficulties of reproduction, and as a result they sometimes look more like hand-colored photographs than “natural color” ones.’ – so it’s interesting that the publishers of Les Champs de Bataille de la Marne state “fac-similes sans retouches”.

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All pictures in the book are in colour. There are illustrations on every double-page spread – and all but a few (maps) are autochromes of the Marne area, soldiers, and war damage. I do not scan books where this might damage the binding, so I have photographed the pages, and have made every effort to present the illustrations here as they appear on the page, without enhancement. Click on an image to see it enlarged. Odd numbers of the original twelve separate parts can be found in dealers’ lists and French bookshops, but the bound volume is scarce. This historic volume, printed almost a century ago while the battles of WW1 were still raging, would be a very attractive addition to any collection relating to colour photography, colour printing, French history / topography, or military history.

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Condition: Better than good. All pages in a good state, with very few marks, a small closed tear to one page only. Small mark on title page. Binding becoming visible at the gutter, in two places that I could see. Some stains and minor marks and wear to the cover, including slightly bumped corners, wear to top and bottom of spine covering. Empathic repair to leather at bottom right corner of front cover. Small nick to one side of the inset cover photo. Now in protective Mylar sleeve.

Price: £95.00 plus postage       s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

Scroll down for more pictures, and further items

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