The Zardini Booklets


My original copy of Zardini’s “Strada delle Dolomiti Bolzano - Cortina”

The book of Zardini photos which I’d had as a gift from
PJ became one of my treasured possessions. Despite much further research and enquiry, I found nothing at all out about the book’s origins, or even its precise date. There is no date in the booklet itself, nor on any of the 36 photos in it. In November 2011, I saw a copy of the same booklet listed on the website of a Dutch antiquarian bookseller, and ordered it immediately, in the hope it might contain more information than my own. Sadly it had been sold already, but it was encouraging to think that there were still copies of this treasure in circulation.

And then…….

In January 2013, I received an e-mail from the lovely people who run Oldimprints.Com in Portland, Oregon in the USA. They had seen this web site, and had just taken into stock what appeared, from the photo they sent to me, to be another copy of the original Zardini booklet. This reinforced my belief that there are at least a few still around. I ordered the copy from them immediately, of course. The condition sounded to be better than my own tattered copy.

Ten days later, when it arrived, it was indeed a slightly smarter copy than my own. But what was this?!! The cover called it
“La Strada delle Dolomiti Cortina - Bolzano - the other way round to my original copy! And yes, this booklet started in Cortina and travelled east- west ending in Bolzano. Ah, I thought. A sensible marketing ploy, to put the same 36 pictures in a booklet, in the reverse order, and sell these to tourists planning on visiting the route in the opposite direction. I have seen more recent guides to the Road doing similar things. But as soon as I began to flick through the booklet, I realised that some of the photographs were different! I suspected originally that this was because some shots are more pertinent to east-west travel. Studying them further, I’m not so sure. Anyhow, whatever the case might be, the copy that had come from the USA contained a different cover photo, a different title page, and twenty - yes 20 out of 36 - different photographs!


Zardini’s “Strada delle Dolomiti Cortina - Bolzano”

The “new” photographs were really interesting. Several were new views altogether, some were simply different views of things and places in my earlier copy, but some were very clearly later photos of the same places, yet shot from the exact same spot. I could tell they were later by things like additional buildings in some of the village shots.

Sadly, there was nothing that really helped me to date any of the photographs with any precision. Just like its partner, the new booklet carried no printing or publication date. One tiny change to the title page indicated that, at the time the newly acquired copy was put out, Zardini’s camera shop in the Piazza Roma in Cortina d’Ampezzo was not just an agent for Agfa and Kodak products, but for Gevaert as well. As
this shows Gevaert were producing cine film from 1903 until their amalgamation with Agfa in 1925. So, apart from helping confirm the publication as being pre-1925, something of which I was already certain, I was no nearer to a precise date.

What changed everything was that I now needed to start referring to the Zardini booklet in the plural - there were two versions. My original probably pre-dates the copy I bought from the USA by no more than a few years. And I suddenly had 20 more photos to research, and compare with modern views! The groundwork stage of that extra study is well under way, and I managed to take several new comparison photos on a trip to the Dolomites in September 2013.

Rather than revise the format of the website completely, or even to create two sites, one for each of Zardini’s booklets, I have integrated the material from the Cortina - Bolzano guide into the existing pages as best I can. This was pretty straightforward in the main, although the addition of a few photos, such as that of Vigo da Fassa meant linking the picture with a section originally written about a different shot from some distance further along the Road.

So, the photo numbering which provides the navigation links for this site is still based on Photos 1 to 36 in the Bolzano to Cortina guide. The text will make it obvious where I have added photos from the Cortina to Bolzano version of the guide. The make it additionally clear, I have scanned these added photos still showing the caption and photo number given to them by Zardini in the Cortina - Bolzano edition.


The contents page of my original copy of the booklet


The contents pages of the copy of the booklet I obtained from the USA

And then…….

In March 2013 I saw a copy of the Zardini booklet advertised on eBay. I was in Venice on a photographic trip at the time. As it looked to be another copy of the Cortina - Bolzano version I had recently bought from the USA, I did not bid for the copy, and forgot about it. It was interesting (and a little flattering) to see that the eBay advert had quoted this web site as a source for anyone wanting to know more about their prospective purchase.

At the end of April 2013, I was contacted by e-mail by John Watkins, an English guy who visits Bolzano regularly, who very kindly gave me pin-point details of where I could shoot modern equivalents of the pictures on the page of
Photo 1 in this project. John pointed me at a number of other useful resources, and then posted me his own copy of the Zardini booklet.

Wouldn’t you know it? This was the copy I’d seen on eBay a month or so previously. It was easy to match it to the eBay photo by a distinctive crease on the top left corner of the cover.

Internally, the condition was the best of the three copies I now had. It was another Cortina - Bolzano version, like my USA copy, BUT… it had two photographs in it that differed from that copy, and which did not appear in my Bolzano - Cortina copy either. These photographs appear in this project along with the details of
Photo 11 and Photo 19 .

The remainder of the photographs in this copy all appeared in the other Cortina - Bolzano copy. There was not enough information, and again, no date, to allow me to estimate which of the Cortina - Bolzano versions was the earlier copy.

So, not only were there copies of the booklet covering the Road in both directions, but in the case of the Cortina - Bolzano booklet, which seemed to have been produced later than my Bolzano - Cortina copy, there were two slightly different versions. This has, of course, got me wondering whether there might be more than one version of Bolzano - Cortina. Research on that point continues!

>Some History