Photo-Plait

Home » The Great War 1914-1918 » Photo-Plait

Henri Plait opened his first photography store at 37, Rue LaFayette in Paris in 1910. After the outbreak of the war he was mobilised by the French army. He became ill and suffered from pleurisy. He was dismissed from military service after his recovery [1].

Photo-Plait in the 1920s
Photo-Plait in the 1920s

He returned to his photography store and started promoting a camera especially for the soldiers at the front. He marketed the Vest Pocket Kodak, a compact folding camera that used film and was easy to carry. The marketing slogan was “Le Kodak du Soldat” (The soldier’s Kodak).

He offered more services to the soldiers at the front. They could send their negatives by post. Photo-Plait developed the negatives and sent the images back to the photographer.

Invoice from Photo-Plait to second lieutenant Charbonnier
A Photo-Plait invoice from 1917 to a second lieutenant at the front

After the war Photo-Plait expanded its business activities and opened more stores in Paris. He started publishing the magazine La Photo Pour Tous (“Photo For Everyone”) [1]. Undoubtedly, the goal was to get people excited about photography and encourage readers to buy products from Photo-Plait. The first edition of La Photo Pour Tous was published in 1923 and the magazine appeared until the outbreak of the Second World War. The richly illustrated magazine had 20 pages and was published monthly to subscribers. It covered both photography and cinema.

After a long history, the last Photo-Plait store closed its doors in the 1970s [1].

Selling war stereoviews

The catalog of 1918 – 1919 [2] contains a detailed list of 14 series of 12 glass stereoviews. The slides are manufactured by La Stéréoscopie Universelle and have numbers in the 3200, 7000, 8300 and 8400 ranges. The catalog establishes the link between manufacturer and seller.

Photo-Plait catalog 1918-1919 with lists of stereoviews by La Stéréoscopie Universelle
Photo-Plait catalog 1918-1919 with lists of stereoviews by La Stéréoscopie Universelle

The catalog was published in June 1918. The war still raged and this explains the statement:

Éditions autorisée par le Ministère de la Guerre 
(authorized by the Ministry of War).

All photographs were censored during the war. This prevented the population from seeing shocking images that could harm the support for the war.

The catalog of 1919 [3] contains 100 series of 12 slides, but it only mentions the name of the series because now Photo-Plait offers special catalogs for the war stereoviews.

Photo-Plait - Cardboard box for 6 x 13 stereoviews
Photo-Plait cardboard box for 6x13cm stereoviews “Vues de la Guerre de 1914 à l’Armistice”

See also: blogposts about Photo-Plait

References

  1. Halgand, Sylvain. Photo-Plait : une petite histoire de la photographie française, April 2011. via: collection appareils   
  2. Photo-Plait 1918-1919, June 1918 
  3. Photo-Plait Catalogue Général, Autumn 1919 
Images © André Ruiter 2018 - 2022, unless otherwise stated.
Content may not be used without permission.