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Did you know there were already spy cameras back in 1890?

You’d think spy cameras were only made ‘recently’, perhaps during the Cold War or WWII. But a young Norwegian student’s photo collection shows that these devices were already in use in the late 1800s!

In 1893, Carl Størmer (1874-1957) was taking up mathematics at the Royal Frederick University (now, University of Oslo) when he bought his first hidden camera: a C.P Stirn Concealed Vest Spy Camera.

“It was a round flat canister hidden under the vest with the lens sticking out through a buttonhole,” Størmer told St. Hallvard Journal in 1942. “Under my clothes I had a string down through a hole in my trouser pocket, and when I pulled the string the camera took a photo.”

Carl Stormer

He initially bought the item to discreetly take pics of his crush, but eventually moved on to capturing images of other subjects. The collection, which has close to 500 photos, shows different people casually walking down the street, responding to Størmer’s greetings right as he secretly takes their pic.

“I strolled down Carl Johan, found me a victim, greeted, got a gentle smile and pulled,” he said. “Six images at a time and then I went home to switch [the] plate.”

Basically, that makes him one of the world’s first street photographers.

Carl Stormer

The images of these passers-by in their natural state offer a refreshing look at daily life during the period. Often, if not always, the photos we see of people then feature strict poses and serious expressions against decorative backdrops.

Carl Stormer

Carl Stormer

You can see more of Størmer’s work over at the Norwegian Folkmuseum.

Via Bored Panda

About the author

Inigo is a writer and graphic designer from Manila, Philippines. He is a soldier of love who will carry you on his strong back of awesomeness when the zombie apocalypse arrives.