World War I – Selling cameras

In France, History, Photography, Whatever on November 4, 2014 at 4:34 pm

With time on my hands for research and writing, a stack of old books in my collection  and a real interest in sharing some of the curiosities I encounter, I hope to uncover little nuggets, treasures, to include in my blog and share with my readers.   As Europe commemorates the First World War during the four years of 2014 to 2018,  there is an abundance of media coverage  marking its 100th anniversary.  Most of it geared towards the events  of the era, the suffering encountered by the men at war and families who stayed behind. My generation knows little about the Great War, myself included, so I started by looking through period newspapers and journals and was astonished by the number of photographs taken and published already 100 years ago.

After the WarIn the August 9th, 1917 issue of Le Pays de France, a weekly published by Le Matin, Photo-Plait a photography shop (look out for a subsequent article) located in Paris places an advertisement in the weekly. Anticipating the days when millions of visitors travel to see the ‘glorious’ ruins of their bombarded cities, it suggests all will want to bring back a lasting memory, which only photography can provide.

“We strongly advise school children and all Frenchmen engaged in tourism to learn the art of photography, available to everyone at little expense.”  Cameras can be purchased at a starting price of 13 francs or the equivalent of US$2.73 at the time.

Photo-Plait was even capable of shipping cameras to the war front and the colonies, and would open accounts for clients with a advance payments!  It is no surprise then to find that soldiers on the front were already taking photographs during World War I.

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