Object of the Month: The small leather Case

Sometimes photographic treasures come to us in unexpected ways. Without comprehensive background information, we are often left with nothing but clues about their origins from the images themselves. We have selected a particularly fascinating object for June: a small leather case, possibly made of elephant skin, which contains a large number of small-format negatives and came into our possession through a donation. 

The negative selected as an example and shown here, which we have partially converted into a positive using digital image processing, bears the number 80 and is listed in the table of contents as a photograph from Venice. It shows several historical buildings, taken from the opposite bank of a canal. Two Venetian gondolas can be seen at the bottom of the picture, seemingly waiting to carry the next tourists. The picture has a format of 6 x 8 cm and was probably taken from a roll film that was common at the time, possibly with a folding camera, which was widely used at the time.


The quality of these and the other photos suggests that they were not taken by a mere amateur photographer. However, it remains unclear who took the photographs. The handwritten entries on the front of the case also provide no clue as to the identity of the author; instead, they reveal that the photographs were taken in the spring of 1925 during a trip to Italy. Various cities were visited, including Venice and Florence.

As object of the month, this small collection of negatives is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also historically significant. Almost a century old, the photographs provide a valuable basis for architectural studies in Venice and other Italian cities. They invite you to immerse yourself in a bygone era and rediscover the beauty and history of these places through the lens of an unknown photographer.