For my birthday I was given a vintage Super Baldina camera. A German model first manufactured in 1938, it has a coupled rangefinder and pop-out lens. At the time it cost an impressive $58 dollars, around $900 in today’s money. Wow! It’s very pretty.
My flatmate picked it up in an antiques store for £25. That’s about £25 in today’s money. When I opened it to put in some film, however, I discovered a secret surprise! There was a roll of film already in the camera! Winding it up, I realised that near enough the whole film had been exposed. What could possibly be on there?
The film is a 35mm Kodacolor II, first sold in 1973. I don’t know when (or even if) it has been discontinued, so all I know is these pictures are at most 37 years old.
I took them to Boots for developing, explaining that I’d found some old film. When I came back, the technician said she’d had trouble scanning them. When I told her the story though, she persevered and was able to recover a good proportion of the film. And didn’t even charge me! Clutching the pack like some ancient scroll, I hurried home to take a look.
A grave! A tombstone! In fact, the entire roll was just shots of this one grave.
The stone reads:
receive the kindly Soul of
a devoted husband and father
died 19th April 1967
also JAMES RYAN
beloved brother of AGNES and
dearest uncle of JOHN & NORMA
died 10th March 1958
The images look a little less saturated in the digital scans I made, although there is a lot of fogging (apparently a problem to do with the Super Baldina’s pop-out lens mechanism letting light in). Also, it’s possible the obscured shots happened when I accidentally opened exposed the film on discovering it. Anyway, I didn’t want to doctor them any further.
What’s interesting is the figure that appears in some of the shots. Possibly a case of paredolia, but doesn’t this look like a double-exposure of a woman with her arms outstretched?
Strangely, the phenomenon appears in two of the stills, but not the others. There are small differences in the shots (see the fern that lies against the stone) and it’s not clear whether these were even all taken on the same day. Here’s a comparison of the ghostly lady in several images:
So who was Edward Langan? And why was his grave so important that someone would expose an entire roll of film on it? With a camera that was 30 years old at the time? The next step – finding out where this grave is, and who lies inside it.