Mystery Box #1: Winter in Germany, mid-1930s

On a number of shelves in my apartment, apart from my large collection of Great War material, stacks of random glass stereoviews sit, slowly collecting dust. They’re mostly amateur efforts, generally in the small (45x107mm) format, and of various qualities. Some are clearly taken by a practiced eye, with great composition, printing, stereography, etc – and some aren’t. Some are in great condition given their age – and some aren’t. Some are boxes which focus on a particular place, group of people, theme, etc – and some aren’t.

So I figured – let’s take them off the shelves and have a better look! I don’t have time to spend a half-hour per slide scanning these; I’m just taking 2400 ppi JPEG scans and quickly anaglyphing them. Although my main interest is in Great War stereography, and my peripheral interests tend towards weird subjects and obscure formats, random amateur sets can be a lot of fun. If nothing else, they’re unique records of a place in time – some of which are identified by captions, some not so much. Some are fun to pop in a viewer, and some are just sort of there.

To be fair (and not just pick the best stuff first), I just pulled a box off the top here and went to town. The photographic quality is rather poor, as is the condition, but there are some interesting shots in here nonetheless. If anybody recognizes any of the locations (particularly the two buildings) pictured here, please do drop a comment – because otherwise, I just have the label on the box (“Allemagne 1933-35”) and the name of the plate manufacturer itself (“Eisenberger”) to go on. In any case, enjoy our first Mystery Box!

1) Pretty good start – nice stereography, not too damaged, even properly exposed!
2) Probably taken on the same day by the same group – note the woman’s giant sweater/coat.
3) This might – or might not – have anything to do with the previous slides – it features a family with children sledding. Note that the camera a printing is completely different from the first two. Also, this slide has suffered some terrible water damage.
4) Same camera, better scene with some nice depth to this overlook scene. Sadly, terribly water-damaged as well.
5) Same scene as slide #3, same camera, same amount of water damage. Slightly better use of depth.
6) If not for the missing bits where this slide fractured, this would be a pretty nice slide (for, obviously, a complete amateur). This doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the other views so far.
7) Family with a small boy walking to a rail station. The sign in the distance reads “AUSGANG” (“EXIT”).
8) Small boy with a sled. While it is unclear whether this is the boy that has appeared several times so far, it’s a pretty great shot, if a bit barely-stereo.
9) This looks like the same location as #4, but with more people and worse stereography. The level of water damage is similar or worse.
10) The same child and sled from #8, but placed against “positive space” creating a weird effect with the grand building in the far distance.
11) Another “boy-on-sled” shot, although he’s either changed his hat, or it’s a different child. The buildings in this neck of the wood – as it were – are not grand palaces as in previous image. The label says “Rodelpartie – Stadtgraben”, which means “sledding at the moat”.
12) This must be the same boy, since that’s the same building – weirdly, this image is barely-stereo.
13) Although this is among the more mundane scenes generally, the stereo really pops here, and this is in far better condition than most in this box.

And that’s about that. Probably, to some family at some point in time, these were a valuable trip down memory lane. Now, they’re curiosities to be enjoyed by people who buy or barter them in strange little 3D communities or on global auction sites. There’s somewhat less of a voyeuristic quality to this set than to some of the found photos I’ve come across, but they’re still interesting for what they are. And now, as always…


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