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UK pair seeks clues about mysterious Swedish photos

David Landes · 20 Oct 2011, 16:03

Published: 20 Oct 2011 16:03 GMT+02:00

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“It would be really great if we could reunite the images with the family after all these years,” Joe Avery told The Local.

Joe and and his wife Angela have been coming to a cabin near Nässjö in south central Sweden every autumn for the last decade to visit Angela's cousins, the offspring of her English aunt who married a Swede.

“We absolutely love Sweden. It's a beautiful country with really nice people,” Joe Avery told The Local.

Over the years, visits to flea markets, sales, and auctions have become a standard part of the Avery's annual pilgrimages to Sweden.

“We sort of a have a fetish for old Swedish things,” said Avery.

While the Averys have been collecting antique Swedish items for some time, their August 2011 visit to an auction in Eksjö would prove to yield an unexpected surprise.

At the Eksjö auction house, which specialises in estate sale auctions, Joe spied a box of assorted items that caught his eye.

“I saw a box filled with a bunch of little nicknacks,” he said.

He was specifically drawn to an old desktop “savings clock” that stops working if a coin isn't deposited. Among the other items in the box was a vintage Agfa Isolette camera.

Joe ended up placing the winning bid for the box, which set him back “about four or five pounds”.

Pleased with his purchase, he and his wife finished their visit and headed back home where they took stock of their purchases.

It was only upon examining the camera at home in England that Joe discovered it still contained a roll of film.

“Luckily, I didn't open it until I had wound the film back in the camera,” he said.

“Curiosity then led me to wonder if there might be any images on the film.”

After a bit of research, Joe was able to find a photo lab that had the capacity to develop the outdated film. And while he was doubtful that any images could be salvaged, he went ahead and dropped off the roll and hoped for the best.

A few days later, Joe had a voicemail from the photo lab.

“He left me a message saying 'your pictures are ready'. I couldn't believe it,” said Joe.

He returned to the lab to discover that the film had produced 12 grainy, black and white images. Some of the pictures are of young children, while others depict a bridge. A snow-covered house is also featured in several of the images.

“I've really wondered about what the children in the pictures might be doing now,” said Joe.

According to the operator of the photo lab, the film found in the camera was manufactured between 1947 and 1952, leading him to theorise that the images could very well be more than 50 years old.

Story continues below…

“It was absolutely amazing,” he said.

“It's like we've stumbled across a moment in these people's lives that has been hidden in this camera for perhaps 50 years and they may not even know it.”

While a spokesperson from the Eksjö Auction House, told The Local it would be “almost impossible” to find the camera's original owner, Joe and his wife are nevertheless hoping making the images public may elicit more clues about the pictures.

In addition, Joe and Angela hope members of the family depicted in the images will get in touch so they have a chance to reclaim a slice of their past.

“The owners are more than welcome to the images – and the camera. It's still in great condition,” Joe told The Local.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:32 October 20, 2011 by Åskar
Judging by the clothes I'd guess late fifties, early sixties.
19:00 October 20, 2011 by Svensksmith
I bought a post card of 4 girls walking through Kalmar on Tradera. I purchased it because one of the girls reminded me of my wife. When it came in the mail, I showed it to her and she freaked out. Turned out it was her and her school chums from years ago. She had never seen the picture before.
19:11 October 20, 2011 by RobinHood
The bridge is the old Svinesund Road Bridge that links western Sweden and Norway on the old E6. It was built 1939 to 1946. Unless the negative has been reversed, they are standing on the northern bank of the Iddefjord.

No I don't have a photographic memory database of Sweden's bridges. I travelled the E6 yesterday and took a few seconds to admire the pretty bridge.
20:25 October 20, 2011 by Kahmoudi
What a lovely story. I hope the people captured on film are reunited with a piece of their past and family history.
23:34 October 20, 2011 by mrbear
The house details (windows, lamps, doors etc are VERY typical for the 50'th villa style. The photos shows television antennas on the houses. TV transmissions started 1956 i Sweden, so probably a some years later. I remember the same sport shoes from mid-60's. So that's my guess.
14:27 October 21, 2011 by jostein
Such gracious people. Such a neat story. Thank you to thelocal for making my day lighter.
15:21 October 21, 2011 by mikewhite
Some clues might also be obtained by noting the alignment of the TV aerial relative to the house: where are there houses in the surroundings of the bridge which are aligned with the direction of the TV transmitter in use at the time ?

Google Maps, Earth and Streetview might allow some searching if the houses still exist today.

If such alignment could be deterrmined and the transmitter location was known then it would narrow the search down to an angular strip that was easier to check.
16:32 October 21, 2011 by Åskar
The house does not necessarily be in the vicinity of the bridge and the amount of snow makes it more likely that it is somewhere in the area where they bought the camera.
19:06 October 21, 2011 by idealist707
These are tract houses, yellow brick, solidly done. That and the amount of snow says the location is southern Småland.

The antenna oddly appears to be TV2, however it could be a later TV1, which helps to place it timewise.

The pictures in B/W is connected to availability of roll film in that format, which puts it earlier than TV2.

There is obviously a visit to farfar and farmor in southern Norrland in June/July. The bridge guess could be right but it looks too narrow to be a roadway, but it is of accessibility reasons. The tree at the villa is a beech which again puts in in southern Småland. Most likely from the age an employee of a large Swedish corporation. The rest is up to the Småland contigent to guess.
20:00 October 21, 2011 by dawna
My local newspaper, the Tranås Tidning, covers Eksjö, Tranås and Aneby. The photos certainly look as they come from this area of Småland. I am sure the newspaper would love to publish the photos. Perhaps you could email them at eksjored@smt.se

As far as dating, I would guess late 50s or early 60s. There was a bit of a building boom in the area in the early 60s and the house in the photo actually looks very similar to mine, which was built in 1962.
08:56 October 24, 2011 by jonathanlindell
Definitely Gamla Svinesundsbron (http://rune-feldt.se/allman/broar/arr6112616.jpg). Facing north.
15:43 October 28, 2011 by andersonking
The bridge in the photo is definitely the bridge over Svinesund. I was there in August this year, and inspected it from above and below. Interestingly enough this bridge was built by the Nazis!!
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