Glass Photographic Slides Depicting the Devastation of World War I

Glass Photographic Slides Depicting the Devastation of World War I

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Book Id: 6363

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A collection of 56 black and white glass slides showing the devastation brought by World War I including damaged and destroyed buildings, grave yards, and individuals in the area thereof, as well as of Soldiers. (We believe that some or all of the images were taken in France and/or Belgium.) While developed photographs of World War I and the damage wrought by it are not difficult to locate, we have never seen a set of glass slides showing such images. Each slide measures approximately 2 inches across by 2 inches high and is approximately 1/16th of an inch thick. The slides are in Very Good condition with cracks near the corner on 6 slides, a crack across the image on two slides, and a chip to the upper right corner of one slide. Each slide has been taped or otherwise blackened along the edges to frame the image as was the custom in that day. As best we have been able to determine, the slides are unique and have not themselves been published. The noted historian John Keegan, has remarked that "there are almost no private photographs of any episode of the First World War from any front. An event of the greatest historical importance, involving perhaps twenty-five million young men, many of whom owned cameras in private life and took 'snaps' of holiday family and everyday life as a matter of course, yielded no photographic record at all except that captured by the official photographers." Professor Stephen Badsey has written that: "There were obvious security risks for any country that photographs taken in a war zone could give information to the enemy. A small number of amateur photographers, usually officers, took their cameras with them to war, using them to make a private record.... the possession or use of a camera by a fighting soldier in the early part of the war depended on the tolerance of his superiors. On the Western Front, press photographers were excluded by all sides early in the war, although some found a way round this....From 1916 onwards official restrictions on taking private photographs were increasingly enforced, and a few soldiers were court-martialled for owning cameras in a war zone.... On the Western Front, from early 1916 the British, French and German armies all employed official photographers subject to military control, to take photographs for release to the newspapers and for other propaganda purposes including photographic exhibitions, and to provide a historical record of the war." Consequently, we speculate (and we think reasonably so), that the images shown on these slides, many clearly of the War Front, are quite early and are likely rather uncommon survivals. An excellent collection of images showing the devastation brought to Europe by World War I.


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