Tucked away on Summer street in Edgartown, the Penumbra Gallery is home to scores of rare and valuable vintage prints from around the world, some dating back to the 19th century.

Founded 30 years ago by longtime collector Eugene Goldfield, the gallery’s walls are covered with stern family portraits, dreamy views of European capitals, and, of course, plenty of nautical scenes. Describing his collection as eclectic and unconventional, Mr. Goldfield said it is his mission to rediscover works lost to time.

“I want to highlight the lesser-known,” Mr. Goldfield said recently in a conversation at his gallery. “It makes the photos more original, as well as more economical. Well-known photography prices quickly become inaccessible.”

Passionate about photography since studying in college, Mr. Goldfield has never been a photographer himself, choosing instead to work towards preserving high-quality historical prints that could otherwise be lost to dusty attics or misplaced albums. The prints themselves are often mysterious and poignant, capturing fleeting and forgotten moments from the past. Sometimes they are funny, showing just how much the world has changed in the past century.

Gallery is celebrating its 30-year anniversary this summer. — Maria Thibodeau

Mostly, Mr. Goldfield looks for photos that challenge the viewer.

“If it’s an image I find puzzling, if I am curious about what’s happening behind the photo, I love it. I am always looking for quirkiness in the images,” Mr. Goldfield said.

Mr Goldfield first opened the gallery soon after he and his wife bought a house on Chappaquiddick. He said he is constantly adding to his extensive collection of photos, purchasing images at auction or from private art dealers, as well as sometimes selling client’s photos on consignment.

He said his passion for quotidian scenes and characters has been informed by the simplicity he has discovered on the Vineyard.

“I primarily collect vernacular photography,” Mr. Goldfield said referring to the school of photography that works in contrast to fine-art styles. “I love everyday images and folk art mainly. Most of the time they were meant as candid photos, which adds a sense of intimacy and spontaneity to them.”

Mr. Goldfield said he sees his role on the Island as both a collector and an educator, hoping to inspire a diverse range of visitors and residents. In this way he hopes to create new collectors and stewards of vintage photography.

“There is just such a wide variety of visitors to the Island who have endless curiosity and creative fecundity,” Mr. Goldfield said. “It’s a perfect place to set up.”

For now, Mr. Goldfield is content to keep sharing his collection with the Island community, while always remaining on the hunt for new images.

“There’s a serendipity to collecting and selling these photos. I am always keeping my eyes open for the next one,” he said.