I have been wanting to write about a story like this forever! Remember the post I did a few weeks ago on the Photo Palace bus, featuring the traveling school bus turned darkroom? Well it’s owner, Anton Orlov, has something else for us film lovers. Recently he bought an old camera, a 1901 Bellini Jumelle camera, for $100. Inside he found something amazing, eight developed photos from World War 1 while he was cleaning the camera. The negatives and glass plates sat in the camera for around 100 years before Orlov’s discovery!
The photos show men in uniform located in war-torn France. Some of the photos even show the men holding a bomb.
Now, I know Anton through a Facebook group that I take part in discussion wise about old, classic film cameras. That’s how I originally found out about his traveling darkroom bus. To see someone who has such a passion for film photography find something so valuable to history by way of old camera is truly a dream story for so many people who share the same passion. So far, this story has made it around the US and to Russia and has been written in English, French, Russian and Spanish! That’s so great to see because to so many people, “film is dead”. Well, if it were not for people who have kept it alive, these negatives would have sat in this dusty little camera forever. It’s really great to see this story make its rounds around the globe, hopefully inspiring people to put a little more value into their film cameras.
So what kind of camera kept these little gems safe all those years? A 1901 Bellini Jumelle camera. It looks like this:
As told to NBC San Diego in an article written here, Anton Orlov says:
“Other than fire, very few things can destroy it,” he explained. “A hundred years from now, that SD [digital camera] card is going to be pretty useless.”
One big win for film photography everywhere! What would you do with a find like this? Would you keep it, sell it or give it to a museum?