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The most remarkable collection of 3D colour photographs in Britain

Who is Mr Pegler?

Stephen Pegler was born in the market town of Retford in Nottinghamshire in 1852, the son of a successful local merchant. Involved in all aspects of life in the town, he became its mayor three times. But his spare time was devoted to photography and he left behind him more than 650 ‘autochromes’, the very first commercial colour photographic system introduced in 1907.

Why are his pictures so important?

Very few autochromes were ever taken and only a handful have survived

To find more than 600 by one person is absolutely extraordinary - and unique in Britain. For them to also be in 3D is has no parallel anywhere in the world.

What did he take pictures of?

The collection captures the life of an English market town from 1910 to 1930 - a pivotal time in British history. Pegler photographed himself, his family, his servants, his friends, his house, gardens, shops, markets, celebrations, commemorations, and historic events. His images bring to life dukes, duchesses, shopkeepers, labourers, soldiers, gardeners, chauffeurs, and children who real enough to touch. They record the changing face of British fashion over two decades, the visit of the King in 1911, the impact of the Great War - before and during, and after - and the celebrations for Peace Day in 1919. This is the world of Cider with Rosie and Downton Abbey brought to colourful, three-dimensional life.

Why haven’t I heard of them?

The autochromes are part of the archive of Bassetlaw Museum, housed in Amcott House in Retford, which was Stephen Pegler’s home until his death in 1937. They are fragile and held in storage in a dark room, so almost no-one has seen them. Many have never been digitised and those that have been scanned are at a very low resolution. They capture little of the extraordinary color of the autochromes, and aren’t 3D.

What can I do to help?

By pledging to make this book happen, you can change that. We are going to create super-high resolution scans and Jordan will remaster each image to bring out the true gem-like colors of each image. We’re even going to help the museum buy back the remaining Pegler autochromes that are still in private collections. We’re calling the book Mr Pegler’s Conservatory (that’s where he took many of his most beautiful images) and it will make the whole collection available to everyone – as both an exquisite printed object and as a sequence of digital stereograms, that can be viewed in 3D on a smartphone with a simple headset.

So, mostly pictures?

Yes, but the autochromes will be also accompanied by detailed captions and quotes to create a unique portrait of an English market town at the peak of its prosperity and civic self-confidence. If you ever dreamed of being granted one afternoon when you could go back and wander through the homes and streets of your great-great grandparents’ time, then book is as close as you’ll ever get.

Exquisite printed object?

How does this sound: a 304 page coffee table book (246 mm x 279 mm) with 650 5-colour images, printed 130 gsm wood-free art paper with matt varnish, stitched and bound in cloth, with silk head and tail band and marker ribbon, all designed by the wonderful team at Ernest Journal?.

Wolfgang Wild is the creator of Retronaut - a brand that shows 'the past like you wouldn’t believe'. In its article on Retronaut, Fast Company wrote: 'Retronaut's images are chosen to make the viewer feel like they’re looking not at the past, but rather at a different version of the present.' In 2014, Wild licensed Retronaut to Mashable and National Geographic published the first Retronaut book with two further books following in 2016. Number 20 on The Times of London’s list of the '50 people you should follow on Twitter', Wild is guest curator for a range of digital and physical museums, and lives near Oxford, England, with his wife, Annie, and their two children.

Twitter @theretronaut

Jordan Lloyd is the director of Dynamichrome, a team of creative experts based in London and Cambridge dedicated to sharing the stories behind some of history's greatest black and white photographs through digital colour reconstruction. This is his second collaboration with Wolfgang Wild, the first being The Paper Time Machine, published by Unbound in Autumn 2017.

Instagram @dynamichrome

Bassetlaw Museum was created in 1983 and is run by Bassetlaw District Council, which covers North Nottinghamshire, and includes the two market towns of Retford and Worksop. As well as the Pegler archive, its collections include local history, archaeology, decorative and fine art, agriculture, costume and textiles.

Audrey Green, October 1912 ©Bassetlaw Museum
Boy Scouts, 1923 ©Bassetlaw Museum
Charity collectors for Retford Hospital, 1911 ©Bassetlaw Museum
Dessert, August 1917 ©Bassetlaw Museum
Dr and Mrs Bower, 1925 ©Bassetlaw Museum
Miss Ethel Crossland, 1924 ©Bassetlaw Museum
Another view of the same shop in March 1913 ©Bassetlaw Museum
Globe Artichoke, 1926 ©Bassetlaw Museum
Gringley, May 1912 ©Bassetlaw Museum
Miss Lily Barker, September 1929 ©Bassetlaw Museum
Mr Johnson, 1926 ©Bassetlaw Museum
Mrs Woods, Rose Day 1923 ©Bassetlaw Museum
Fairground, Owlerton, May 1911 ©Bassetlaw Museum
Pater’s Chemist’s Shop, 1920 ©Bassetlaw Museum
Peonies ©Bassetlaw Museum
Retford Ambulance in June 1914 ©Bassetlaw Museum
King George V and Queen Mary visited Retford in June 1914 ©Bassetlaw Museum
Strawberries and cream, 1920 ©Bassetlaw Museum
Sunflower, 1919 ©Bassetlaw Museum
Tricky and I, 1926 ©Bassetlaw Museum
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