Friday, November 9, 2012

A Magnat Debon and ?

My latest find, this vintage photo of a group of military personnel and their vehicles, has been a real labour of love, for a start, though a lovely historical record, it wasn't cheap (though I managed to get 10 euros off!). Secondly, nothing in it was identified, and thirdly it needed retouching - about 10 hours worth as there were little spots on it where the emulsion had been distorted. The first to be identified was the motorcycle which seems to be a Magnat Debon from between 1905 and 1910. I haven't had any luck with the car at all, though it has quite a distinctively shaped radiator grille and very plush seats, and it's in the phaeton style of that era, probably used for collecting officers from the station.
Most of the men have a distinct insignia on their lapels, which I also haven't been able to identify. One has a white armband and others dark armbands - one with writing on it which is unfortunately not readable. the soldier on the motorcycle doesn't have the lapel insignia, but a logo on his puttee which can just be seen through the motorcycle - no clues there either! He's also carrying a rifle slung behind his back, it took me several hours to notice that, and up until then I thought they might be civilian - railway workers or postmen. Next, on to the location - there must be thousands of "Hotel de la Gare"s in France, so it was just down to dogged persistence and looking through old postcards until suddenly I came across a different view of the same hotel. Double checking on Google Earth confirmed. The cafe, which says H. Caziot above the door, is now a house and the hotel is now apartments, in the region of no. 22 Avenue de la Gare, Gannat, Allier, France, which is not too far from a garrison in Clermont Ferrand. Coincidentally or not, I'd already discovered that the car registration "F", if a private car, was registered in Clermont Ferrand. This is a very detailed photo which enlarges well, here it is on a poster:

Hotel de la Gare, Gannat, France

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