The discovery of never-seen-before photographs from 70 years ago has sparked a worldwide search for the identities of the couple seen in the pictures. Irish camera collector William Fagan came across this lost film cassette a few years ago when he purchased a vintage Leica Illa, but did not develop the pictures until this summer. He was surprised to find intimate photographs of a young woman and older man on a road trip through Switzerland and northern Italy.
“The film had traveled around in a brass Leica FILCA cassette, from owner to owner through the decades,” Fagan explains. “Given [the couple's] ages at the time there is a very strong possibility that they are no longer with us. I thought long and hard about showing these photos, even after the long passage of time since they were taken, but there seems to be no other option if I am to find out who they are.” Fortunately, the developed photographs provide a few hints that could help identify the man and woman. Already, Fagan and his friend Mike Evans, founder of the photography and technology website Macfilos, have been able to pinpoint the car seen in the photos as a BMW 315 cabriolet that was made in the years 1935–7. Additionally, they were able to confirm that the license plate was issued in Munich in 1948, during the American occupation of southern Germany after WWII.
It seems as though the couple spent time in Zurich, Lake Como, and Bellagio—a town in northern Italy. Thanks to contacts in Europe, Fagan and Evans were able to cross-examine the locations depicted in the photographs with other archival photos of the sites and tentatively date the mysterious road trip to May 1951. However, despite the newfound information of the car and the timing, the identity of the couple remains a mystery. “The two people are a woman in her late 20s or perhaps around 30 and a man about 10 years older, to my eyes,” Fagan says. “And they had a little Dachshund with them who also appeared in the Zurich photo.” Since the story has gone viral, the original article has received hundreds of comments with different theories about the two individuals' identities. So far, none have led to any helpful conclusions.
“So many questions remain unanswered—such as why was the film never finished? Was this the reason why the roll remained undeveloped, or is there another reason? Was this a borrowed camera, returned to its owner or a dealer with the film inside? Or, Heaven forbid, was the camera, used for the film roll, stolen at some stage?” Fagan prompts at the end of the blog post.
At this time, Fagan and Evans are still searching for the identities of the people in the pictures, so if anyone has any information, they can contact him via Mike Evans's website, using the email address [email protected].