André Ruiter Stereoscopy

Photo-Plait and The Great War

September 29, 2019
Photo-Plait and The Great War - B&W photographer and collector of antique photographica
I found a catalog from 1918 by Photo-Plait from Paris. This photography store sold stereoviews of the First World War. To my surprise, the numbers in the catalogue correspond to the numbers on the slides of La Stéréoscopie Universelle. It establishes the link between producer and seller.


Henri Plait opened his first photography store at 37, Rue La Fayette in Paris in 1910. After the outbreak of the war he was mobilised by the army. He became ill and suffered from pleurisy. He was dismissed from military service after his recovery.

He returned to his photography store and came up with the idea of promoting a camera especially for the soldiers at the front. He marketed the Vest Pocket Kodak, a compact folding camera that used film and was easy to carry. The marketing slogan was "Le Kodak du Soldat". He also sold the Platoscope, a compact stereo camera for 45x107 stereoviews which is similar to Jules Richard’s Glyphoscope.

Photo-Plait Platoscope
Platoscope (author's collection)

Soldiers at the front could send their negatives by post. Photo-Plait developed the negatives and sent the images back to the photographer.

After the war Photo-Plait expanded its business activities and opened more stores in Paris. After a long history, the last store closed its doors in the 1970s.

Catalog 1918/1919

Photo Plait - Catalogue 1918/1919
Photo Plait - Catalogue 1918/1919 (author's collection)

The catalog shows 14 series of 12 stereoviews. The slides are produced by La Stéréoscopie Universelle and have numbers in the 3200, 7000, 8300 and 8400 ranges.

Photo Plait - Catalogue 1918/1919

The catalog was published in June 1918. The war still raged and this explains the statement:

Éditions autorisée par le Ministère de la Guerre (authorized by the Ministry of War).

All photographs were censored during the war. This prevented the population from seeing shocking images that would harm the support for the war.

I have only one slide in my collection that is listed in the catalog. Based on the archive of Great War in 3D I’ve seen different slides and indeed, they only show relatively “safe” images.

It’s interesting that the stereoviews are offered for 0.95 francs (45x107) and 1.20 francs (6x13) each. Other non-war stereoviews from the same catalog cost only 0.85 and 1.00 francs. It shows how desirable the war stereoviews were and the sellers were more than happy to raise their prices.

Poste des Wakes by L.S.U.
'Poste des Wakes' by L.S.U. - number 8362


  • Photo-Plait: une petite histoire de la photographie française - Collection Appareils, Sylvain Halgand
  • Photo-Plait - Catalogue Général 1916
  • Photo-Plait - Catalogue 1918/1919