24 March 2021

The Paul Piotin Collection

Category: Stereoviews   Tags: Paul Piotin / WWI
The Paul Piotin Collection - Black & White Photography and Stereoscopy Blog

A while ago my attention was caught by a post on Facebook sharing a number of glass stereoviews from the First World War. They were taken by a photographer who died during the infamous Battle of Verdun. I was touched by the images and decided to contact the person who posted the images.

The stereoviews are owned by Guy Laluque from France. Guy is a collector of stereoscopy antiques and has a collection of approximately 700 stereoviews from the First World War. He bought the boxes with stereoviews at a flea market in Sancerre. He studied the images and found the death certificate of the photographer. He learned a lot about the life of the photographer who is named Paul Piotin.

Many stereoviews from the First World War exist, but the names of the photographers are rarely known. This story therefore needs to be told and I worked with Guy on two blogposts about Paul Piotin. This first post is about his life and the stereo photos he took before the war. The next post is about his photography during the war. My thanks go to Guy for sharing the stereoviews and his research which I used the write the two posts.

Portrait of Paul Piotin
Paul Piotin
45 x 107mm glass stereoview

Paul Piotin

Paul Gustave Piotin was born on 14 April 1894 in Saint-Léger-les-Vignes in western France. He makes a number of trips abroad, which suggests that he comes from a wealthy family. He leaves for Chalon-sur-Saône where he works as a glassmaker at Maison Pinette. He is a passionate stereo photographer. He photographs during his travels to Italy, Switzerland and Spain and captures events such as the Tour de France and airshows. He experiments with long exposure times and the photochrom color process. He photographs with a Vérascope stereo camera and accurately indexes his work by adding descriptions to the plates and the storage boxes.

At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, he was mobilized by the French army. Paul Piotin was killed on 5 August 1916 during the Battle of Verdun.

Paul Piotin - Maison Pinette
Maison Pinette glassworks, December 1912 - Chalon-sur-Saône, France
45 x 107mm glass stereoview
Paul's friends
Paul's friends
45 x 107mm glass stereoview

The collection

The collection owned by Guy consists of a large number of glass plate negatives and positives in the format 45 x 107mm and a simple folding Vérascope stereo viewer. The plates are packed in cardboard boxes which he bought from three different photography shops in Chalon-sur-Saône. The boxes are numbered by Paul and provided with the subject. Many plates contain a description with the name P. Piotin. The photos were taken from 1910 until his death in 1916.

Collection
Boxes from the Paul Piotin collection
Vérascope stereo viewer
Paul's Vérascope stereo viewer

The stereoviews

The photos that Paul took during air shows are special. On 17 December 1903, the American Wright brothers had made the first controlled flight with an airplane. Paul's photos date from 1910 and show the early days of aviation.

Paul Piotin - Airshow, 29 September 1910 - Beaune, France
Aviation event, 29 September 1910 - Beaune, France
45 x 107mm glass stereoview
Aviation event, 16 October 1910 - Chalon-sur-Saône, France
Aviation event, 16 October 1910 - Chalon-sur-Saône, France
45 x 107mm glass stereoview
Aviation event, 16 October 1910 - Chalon-sur-Saône, France
Aviation event, 16 October 1910 - Chalon-sur-Saône, France
45 x 107mm glass stereoview

Paul experimented with the Photochrom process. It's a process for producing colorized images from a single black and white negative via the direct photographic transfer of the negative onto lithographic printing plates.

Paul Piotin - Hôtel de Ville in Morez, 2 June 1914 - Jura, France
Hôtel de Ville in Morez, 2 June 1914 - Jura, France
45 x 107mm glass stereoview coloured with photochrom process

Paul Piotin with his Vérascope camera bag
Paul Piotin with his Vérascope camera bag