Glass stereoviews with images of the First World War are not rare, but a complete set of an original purchase with its documents is rare. This collection consists of a wooden box with two hundred slides in the 6x13cm format, a hand-held stereoscope, the original invoice and two catalogs. The stereoviews are published by La Stéréoscopie Universelle. The set provides a valuable insight into the commercial distribution of stereo images after the war.
The slides are packed in cardboard boxes. Seven boxes are black, without label, the other seven boxes are from Guilleminot, the manufacturer of the glass plates on which the photos were printed. La Stéréoscopie Universelle had its own branded boxes, but these were only available for the 45x107mm format. It’s strange that the publisher didn’t offer branded boxes for the 6x13cm format, especially since these slides were more exclusive and had a higher price. The neutral black and Guilleminot boxes look a bit cheap.
The glass slides are well preserved by the original owner and generally have few scratches and the emulsion is in good condition.
The invoice states the purchase: 200 vues verre for 1,90 francs each. The supplied Unis France hand-held stereoscope is offered for free, which means that the total amount of the invoice is 380 francs. The date of the invoice is difficult to read but is probably 30 October 1929.
The set contains two catalogs. The first catalog provides an overview of the battlefields or themes and their locations. This allowed the buyer to put the images into context. The introduction contains some interesting information. La Stéréoscopie Universelle indicates that it has a collection of 3.000 images, from which it has selected 200 images. The number of 3.000 matches the estimate of The Great War in 3D very well.
So this acquisition of 200 was meant to feature the highlights of their collection. It states that the same images are available in both the 45x107mm and 6x13cm format and buyers can put together a collection according to their own interests.
It also states that their collection contains images from the archives of La Section Photographique de l’Armée, which is interesting. The photos taken by the photographers of the SPA were published in albums during the war. These albums were offered cheaply and served as propaganda for the war. The claim that the stereo images of the SPA also ended up with commercial publishers, such as La Stéréoscopie Universelle, is new and needs further research.
The second catalog contains an overview of the titles of the stereoviews with the numbers 8301 to 9605, supplemented with some titles from other ranges. The catalog is a valuable document for indexing the images of La Stéréoscopie Universelle, since the numbers or descriptions on slides can sometimes be difficult to read.
- Ference, Ian. Glass slide manufacturers. Part 2 from the series Stereography in the Great War, July 2021