Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mystery pictures in an old Zeiss Ikon Camera


Today I came across this story on Yahoo! News about 13 year old Addison Logan, who bought an old Polaroid camera at a garage sale, which just happened to have a picture of his uncle (who had passed away 23 years before) inside. That story reminded my own adventure with a camera that I bought at a garage sale when I was a teen.

I started collecting old cameras at garage sales when I was a kid in Yuma, AZ in the late 70's and early 80's. I found a lot of cameras manufactured between the 30's and the 60's, in addition to a few that were even older. The best looking camera by far was an old Zeiss-Ikon that had been kept in very nice condition by its owners. The man who I bought the camera from explained that it had belonged to his father before he passed away.

I'm not sure of the exact model; I believe it was the smaller of the two shown above (that camera disappeared long ago during one of my several moves with the Air Force). The most exciting thing about that particular camera was not its wonderful, shiny black antique appearance, but what was hidden and waiting to be discovered inside.

As I was examining the camera, I found a stack of old, relatively large negatives in a narrow metal storage compartment, (which appeared to be made for that purpose and actually attached to the back of the camera itself). These pictures appeared to be of a European family, with one man in some kind of uniform. Some of the pictures included aircraft that looked like they might be gliders. One photo looked like it may have been taken at a wedding or a public gathering of some sort, and another appeared to have been taken at a military installation, with flags hanging in the background.

A family portrait?

 Notice the aircraft behind the tree in the photograph above.

 There are two aircraft in this image. A double exposure?

I've always been very curious about the location of the shot above. 
Could that be a banner version of the Austrian flag hanging on the right?

Shortly after discovering the photographs, I asked a family friend (who was a U.S. Marine and a bit of a military history buff) to take a look at the pictures, hoping that he would be able to give me some definite information about the uniform or the flags. At that time, he told me that his best guess for the uniform was that of a pre-WWII member of the German Red Cross.  Another friend developed the pictures and blew up some of the prints (hence the reversals of some of the prints), and the results of that endeavor are what you see posted here today.

Do you recognize any of these people?

What is happening in this picture? A wedding? A funeral? Something else?

 I've always wished that I knew the story behind these pictures.

Perhaps someone can shed some light on the history of these photographs.

Click on any one of the pictures above to see all of the pictures full size.

I'll admit, I have no more solid information, other than that old friend's best guess. I have found some pictures online that do resemble the uniform that he is wearing, but I have not found an exact match yet. The belt buckle of the man wearing the military uniform, does seem to closely resemble the one pictured here from a 1933 German Red Cross uniform.

Here is a close-up view of the belt buckle worn by the man in uniform 
in the first of the old pictures (labeled "A family portrait?") in this post.
It is similar to the 1933 belt buckle pictured in the e-militaria link.

I'm posting these pictures online with the hope that somebody, somewhere might be able to give me some more information on the uniform, possible locations where these pictures may have been taken and perhaps someone may even recognize some of the individuals in these long forgotten pictures.