Gene Smith had 1,740 reels of tape in his collection when he died. This gallery includes a selection of the boxes containing some of those reels. The colorful boxes are relics from the post-War period when portable reel-to-reel tape recording was a new and growing cultural fad. Men’s magazines from the period–Playboy, Esquire–and general interest magazines such as Life and Time were full of advertisements for liquor, cigarettes, and portable recording equipment. Smith’s handwritten labels are intriguing to look at today.

Tape boxes courtesy of the W. Eugene Smith Archive, Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona and © The Heirs of W. Eugene Smith.