(Photo: Mathieu Stern)
For generations, people interested in preserving the best parts of their lives have struggled with ideas of what to put into a time capsule. For one young girl 120 years ago, she knew exactly what to do. Along with a little paper doll, flowers, a quill pen, a gold coin and shells, she decided to enclose glass negatives of her favorite pets, two cats and a dog. With the help of family members, French photographer Mathieu Stern found the girl's time capsule in a dresser stashed in his childhood home and went to work showcasing what she left for the world to find. Stern's YouTube channel documented the location of the heartwarming time capsule and the painstaking task of bringing it to life.
In his video and online blog, Stern says he developed the old glass negatives using a process from the 1840's. He says, "I decided to develop them using one of the oldest ways to make solar prints: cyanotype." Cyanotype is a 19th century photo printing method that uses ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide to produce cyan-blue prints, or "blueprints" as used today in architectural and mechanical drawings. It's amazing that Stern was connected to the find, in that he knew how to carefully breathe life to the girl's treasured photos. He says, "She wanted her beloved cat not to be forgotten." A picture of the cat now hangs in a frame where Stern can see it everyday, and the time capsule has been returned to the old family home.