Ages ago, I put in a modest bid on a collection of 45×107 glass from a Belgian collector & dealer – and was delighted to find out some weeks later that I’d won. A few days ago, the collection showed up – and as always, I started looking through it – which ended up taking quite a while, because of stunning images such as today’s feature. And it came in a lovely old wooden storage box (with room for plenty more), as well as a period advertisement which I’ll scan and write about at a later date. Here’s the box:
There are four main components to the set, which I explored in random order:
- The bulk of the collection consists of small-format LSU slides, all of high (8000+) numerical designations, all lacking any “LSU” identifying marks, and many annotated in the margins in fine-point blue handwriting, with specific dates for particular views.
- The next-largest portion is comprised of Verascope Richard slides, all with handwritten titling (including “Verascope Richard”, which is almost always stamped on). These slides are all dated 20 March 1929, the day Marshal Ferdinand Foch died, and concern his funeral – many being alternate takes of the same subject.
- There are a handful of small format stereo negatives featuring various Great War subjects. Having not scanned any of them yet, I have no idea what of specifically – I rather breezed through them, since they’re not scope-viewable.
- There were a few slides, seemingly unrelated to the Great War, featuring a bourgeois family hunting, dining, and hiking together. At least one of them is dated 1913, and they are very well composed and exposed.
So I started looking through the slides, popping them into my favorite 45×107 scope (a UNIS with excellent optics), and every so often pausing for a longish while on a particularly impressive shot. Then I came across this:
Different views grab different people for different reasons. For me personally, there were a multitude of reasons to fall in love with this slide – the mix of bravado, weariness, and stoicism on the faces of the men. The missing moustaches on two of them – breaking the dress code of the British military of the day. The photographer’s excellent – if slightly flawed (cropped feet) – composition. The gorgeous lighting. The exceptional stereographic effect. The photographer’s choice to focus on the men, at the exclusion of the huge camouflaged gun. This last bit is rather a rarity in similar slides, as it appears that seeing the weapons of war was generally more popular than humanizing the men fighting it; it’s not uncommon to show a war machine whilst cropping heads, limbs, etc off the human figures in a Great War stereoview.
Anyhow, as I said, appreciation of a particular stereoscopic image is a purely subjective matter – each viewer will have their own take. But that said – I hope you’ll agree that this is a damn fine image! ‘Cause if you don’t – well then, you’re just wrong then, aren’t you?