The First World War was the first major conflict where photography played an important role. Germany recognised its potential and used photographs for propaganda from 1914. The images were used to influence the public opinion in neutral countries. France realized that it could not stay behind and decided to set up its own photography unit to oppose German propaganda.
Most French stereoviews with images of the First World War contain a short description which is printed on the slide. In best case, it describes the place, subject and a year. However, most descriptions are brief and sometimes even incorrect. This makes it difficult to find out more about the story behind the image.
I'm collecting glass stereoviews only but recently I couldn’t resist purchasing a box of paper views with images from the First World War. It’s a collection of 12 images in 8,5x17 format, produced by Paris-Stéréo.
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.
I've extended my collection with an interesting set of 50 glass 45x107 stereoviews and a simple stereoscope. The stereoviews are published by the Service des Ventes de l'U.N.C. (SDV).
When searching for stereoviews to extend my collection, I always pay special attention to images of sites I’ve visited while working on my photo projects. I was delighted to found a slide of Fort de Troyon. It brings back good memories of my visit to this fort in 2015.
The majority of French stereoviews from the First World War are not rare. They were produced in large numbers and are offered on many online auction sites. Much less is known about the photographers, manufacturers and retailers. That's why simple documents can sometimes reveal valuable information.