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The Great War in Stereoviews

Geo. Nightingale & Co.

Little is known about George Nightingale & Co. of Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. Only stereoviews showing Great War battlefields in the British theater of operations a year or so after the war can be attributed to this company, so it may have been founded specifically to give employment to war veterans. According to notations on the actual stereoviews, the finishing and printing was done for Nightingale by ex-servicemen at Reflex Studios, Parkstone (near Poole), a manufacturer of postcards. Nightingale's stereoviews were packaged in cheap, stapled cardboard boxes holding 50 stereoviews each. The images were unmounted and printed on photo paper. Manufacturer information and the title were printed on the reverse of each stereoview. In terms of content and technical quality, Nightingale sets are markedly inferior to those published by Realistic and Underwood & Underwood.

Nightingale's first set, probably sold about 1920, was a group of 100 images called "The Battle Field Series." The first half of this set was poorly organized, showing scenes from Flanders and the Somme interleaved with no coherent theme. The second half of the set covered towns in Belgium that suffered during the German invasion of 1914. Many of the views showed cathedral interiors and other subjects more suitable for a travelogue than a survey of Great War battlefields.    Title List    Images

The next set was entitled "The Battle-Field Series" and was divided into Series 1 (views 1-50) and Series 2 (views 51-100). The organization and subject matter were much improved over the original group. Series 1 covered Flanders, with sections showing Ostend, Nieuport, Ypres, and Armentières. The theme was stated as part of the text on the reverse of image 50: Nieuport, Ypres, and Armentières constituted the "walls" of the Channel Ports (Calais and Dunkirk). The three named towns formed a north-south line held by the Allies to protect the British Army lifeline through the Channel Ports. Series 2 included a few more shots of Flanders, about 30 images of the Somme battlefields, and some pictures of Zeebrugge, where the Royal Navy conducted a daring raid in April 1918.    Title List    Images

Not all 200 views have been recorded. Of the 163 seen to date, 29 (18%) were used in both sets. Nightingale views appear to have been original and were not used by other companies.

Original Set. No. 91. Pontoon Boats for bridge construction.

Keys for identification of this series are the box enclosing the text and no hyphen in "BATTLE FIELD."

Second set, Section 2. No. 100. Interior of a German Dug-out.

Identification keys are the lack of a box, hyphenated "BATTLE-FIELD," and the Section designator at upper right.

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