Guy Buys 1929 Camera at Thrift Store and Develops 70-Year-Old Film Found Inside

Zeiss Ikon Medium Format Camera

Dutch photographer Martijn Van Oers happened upon something special when he opened up the medium format camera he'd purchased at a thrift store. The original Zeiss Ikon 520/2 contained a roll of film with the word EXPOSÉ written on it.

After a bit of research, Van Oers determined that the camera dated from about 1929, while the film would have been produced at some point between the 1940s and 1970s. As for what the mystery film contained, the photographer is lucky enough to have a friend, Johan Holleman, who develops his own film right in his kitchen and offered to do the same for the vintage roll.

Neither man thought they'd get much on a roll of film that was so old, but to their surprise, several images appeared on the negatives. “I found myself in Johan’s kitchen documenting him working his magic on an, what later turned out to be, almost 70-year-old film,” Van Oers writes. “The moment the processed film was taken from the container, we were both stunned, as there actually seemed to be photos on the negatives!”

After scanning the four images that contained the most detail, the photographer posted the pictures to Facebook. To his surprise, a friend identified one of the locations, which when verified via Google Streetview, does appear to be Biarritz in southwestern France.

These holiday photos show a man and woman posed in front of the French landscape, with the man—the likely owner of the Zeiss Ikon—holding a camera case. Now all that's left to do is find the owners. “Looking at the images, I feel I stumbled across a small treasure-chest—or time capsule—giving us a tiny glimpse into the past,” Van Oers reflects. “It really makes me want to find out who the people in the pictures are. Hopefully, one day, I will be able to hand over these negatives to the descendants of this mystery photographer.”

Photographer Martijn Van Oers purchased this folding medium format Zeiss Ikon at a second-hand shop.

Zeiss Ikon Medium Format Camera

To his surprise, it contained an undeveloped roll of film.

Thrift Store Film

The images on the vintage roll appear to be taken on holiday in French Basque Country.

Vintage Holiday Photos

Vintage Holiday Photos

Vintage Holiday Photos

Google Streetview seems to confirm the landscape, placing the images in the French town of Biarritz.

Google Street View

The Dutch photographer was able to develop the film thanks to his friend Johan Holleman, who did the work in his kitchen.

Developing Old Film

how to develop old film

Developing Old Film

Developing Old Film

Developing Old Film

They were shocked when the negatives showed clear images.

Developing Old Film

film negatives

h/t: [Peta Pixel, Bored Panda]

All images via Martijn Van Oers.

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Newly Discovered 31 Rolls of Film Shot by an Unknown Soldier During WWII

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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