Surprising discovery in the archive: During work on the design drawings and letters from the archive inventory of the “PN Film Company Nar & Polley”, a small inconspicuous package turned up in a carton of Ilse Polley’s private photos. It was marked with the inscription “found on 13 January 1919”. To the archivist’s bewilderment it contained a slice of bread with a coin.
Money had in the past been baked into bread and given as a present at ceremonies such as weddings and birthdays with the wish “that neither money nor luck will be missing in your life”. This custom has been almost completely forgotten in Germany but it was widely practiced at the end of the First World War because of its symbolic message. It sometimes happened that such bread slices were passed on as memorabilia in the family. That is probably the case here, as the date on the package does not relate to Ilse Polley in any discernable way.
Ilse Polley (1904 – sometime after 1989) moved from Thorn in West Prussia to Berlin in 1920. She initially worked at the Schwartzkopff locomotive construction company but later completed vocational training as an animator and took a job at the Carl Nar production company.
In 1936 Polley and Nar jointly founded the company “PN Film Company Nar & Polley” which successfully produced educational films, initially for the military and after 1945 for use in vocational schools. Ilse Polley did the drawings for the animated films herself and also filmed them. A number of her works were honoured at international industrial film festivals in the 1960s. The company produced its last film, “Design of an Angle Valve”, in 1976.
In 1978, Ilse Polley was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for her life’s work.