Who took these photos?

A stunning set of old photos found in an op-shop by an American photographer has internet super-sleuths working overtime to identify who took them, who's in them, and where they were shot.

Photographer Meagan Abell found the film negatives in a box of old photographs in a local op-shop where she lives in Richmond, Virginia. In an op-shopper's dream she took them home and had them scanned to discover - in her own words - "holy wow they are beautiful!"

She posted the photographs to her Facebook late last month with the hashtag #FindTheGirlsOnTheNegatives in an attempt to harness the collective detective power of the internet to find out more.

Since then the post has been shared by over 20,000 people and the location appears to have been narrowed down to Dockweiler State Beach, which is adjacent to Los Angeles International Airport.

But the identity of the photographer and models appears to remain a mystery.

The case is reminiscent of the Academy Award-nominated documentary Finding Vivian Maier, where a box of negatives bought at a storage locker auction and shared online were traced back to an unknown Chicago nanny who is now regarded as one of the iconic street photographers of the 20th century.