On The Square

Marching Down Memory Lane

By Brett Morris

Aug 03,2017 | 15:00 EDT

Nostalgia for the military past can be a powerful thing. Looking back at major conflicts and observing everyday people, no different from you or I, placed into the most extraordinary situations, facing peril and uncertainty with stoicism and good cheer, never ceases to fascinate. This is real history, landmarked for all eternity with dates engraved in the collective memory, seen through the revealing and democratic lense of the camera. 

An American WWII pilot catches up on the news between German bombing raids

On Thursday, August 17 James D. Julia Inc. offers bidders the opportunity to get their hands on an extensive cache of prized military photographs when they offer Lot 2062 on Day 2 of their massive 3-Day Summer Fine Art, Asian & Antiques Auction. This archive, collected through one consignors lifetime, features 33,000 vintage and first generation photographic prints, 18,900 negatives, 500 slides, five 8mm newsreel films, one 16mm newsreel film (of German troops parachuting into Holland), 25 stereo-cards and miscellaneous ephemera.

American soldiers on parade proudly show the colors

This archive has been a labor-of-love for a collector, who, name withheld, is the owner of a small publishing company, where he had hoped to publish photo books utilizing the incredible images. Unfortunately, his dream never reached fruition and now, a change in plans has led to the consignment of this treasured photo-archive.

Armed and dangerous - German WWI planes await their pilots

The collector has a real passion for flying, and a large percentage of this archive is dedicated to WWI and WWII Air Corps and aircraft. There is a stunning array of aviation photos on display here, from both Axis and Allied camps, including this great shot above of German WWI planes lined up and ready for battle. 

Crew prepare the "Pom Pom Express" for its next flight over German soil

There is also a great collection of images capturing the alluring artwork with which pilots and crew liked to adorn the noses of their planes. Usually pinup girls and sometimes cartoons, they are an immediate reminder of their time, back when Betty Grable was breaking hearts and Marilyn Monroe was still in short pants. 

Officers discuss the days events while their driver takes in the view

These pictures come from a time that saw the birth of photo-journalism, when lensmen risked their lives to bring the real face of war back to the people at home. Not surprisingly then, many of the groupings are from professional American military photographers, German military photographers and even soldiers in the field.

James D. Julias 3-Day Summer Fine Art, Asian & Antiques Auction runs from Wednesday, August 16 to Friday, August 20 and contains over 1640 lots covering a host of fascinating categories. Look now at the full catalog.