Antique and Vintage Stereoview Photographs
The idea for stereoview photographs (also known as stereoscopic photographs, stereographs, or, simply, views) was hatched long before their invention, and even well prior to the first photographs. In the early 17th century, three separate men, Giovanni Battista della Porta, Jacopo Chimenti da Empoli, and Francois d’Aguillion, made drawings, or allusions to, what would eventually become the stereoscope or stereo viewer.
What these men envisioned essentially became a reality when the stereoscope was finally introduced in the early 19th century. Stereoscopes use two nearly-identical images, each taken a few inches to the side of the other. When viewed through two lenses set 2.5 inches apart, approximately the space between the eyes, the result is the illusion of a three-dimensional picture. In fact, stereoscopes are seen as the precursors to 3D entertainment. Much of the three-dimensional technology of today is based on the simple principles that allow the stereoscope to function.
Sir David Brewster often gets the credit for inventing stereoscopes, but he first designed the box-shaped viewer. The first stereoscope was actually introduced in 1833 by Sir Charles Wheatstone in Great Britain. At that time, photographs did not exist, so drawings were used instead. By the 1850s, photography was possible so stereoscopes began featuring this new technology.
Because the stereoscope preceded the publication of photographs in newspapers and magazines, stereo viewers were seen as forms of entertainment. People would pass around the stereoscope and see all sorts of beautiful scenes that they otherwise might never have been introduced to.
In 1859 Oliver Wendell Holmes (yes, that Oliver Wendell Holmes) invented a handheld stereograph viewer which was later manufactured by Joseph L. Bates in Massachusetts. These antique stereographs are highly sought-after today.
Before stereoviews caught on in the United States, however, they were popular in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. Roger Fenton was an early stereoview photographer, as was Jules Duboscq, who made daguerreotype stereographs popular. At the same time tintype and albumen photographs were being used in stereoscopes.
In fact, the vintage photographs that were placed inside stereoscopes are even more collectible than the devices themselves. The list of themes for these pictures is limitless, a...
One of the most popular genres was railroad photos. Rail transportation was developing alongside photographic innovation, so many people that never rode the rails could at least see them through a stereoscope. One of the leading railroad and Western stereoview photographers was Carleton Watkins. Other views included mines, landscapes, automobiles, and, of course, nudes. In the United States, stereoviews allowed people living on the East Coast to see the West Coast, and vice versa.
By the latter half of the 19th century, many towns had their own resident stereoview photographer, which means there were plenty of local subjects available for people with stereoscopes to go with the images of far-off lands. Several companies emerged as publishers and distributors of stereoviews on every imaginable subject, the biggest and most successful in the United States being the Keystone View Company of Meadville, Pennsylvania.
The most prolific maker of views, however, was probably the London Stereoscope Company, founded in the early 1850s. It produced hundreds of thousands of views, as well as some portraits. Its peak was the 1850s, which was the height of the stereoscope craze in the United Kingdom. The company remained strong through the next few decades before fizzling in the 1920s. It has since reopened, with its new owners making an attempt to reintroduce the popularity of stereoscopes into today’s digital world.
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Recent News: Stereoview Photographs
Source: Google News
FOVE CEO Yuka Kojima Hits the Cover of Forbes JapanRoad to VR, October 2nd
Simulated depth-of-field: While the current split-screen stereo view familiar to users of most consumer VR headsets accurately simulates vergence (movement of the eyes to converge the image of objects at varying depths) it cannot simulate depth of...Read more
Scientists Tantalized as Dawn Yields Global Mineral and Topographic Maps of CeresUniverse Today, September 30th
Dawn' instruments, including the Framing Camera and Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (VIR) will be aimed at slightly different angles in each mapping cycle allowing the team to generate stereo views and construct 3-D maps. “The emphasis during HAMO is ...Read more
Dawn Journal: 8 Years in SpaceThe Planetary Society (blog), September 28th
Taken together then, they provide stereo views, so scientists gain perspectives that allow them to construct topographical maps. The camera's internal computer detected an unexpected condition in the third cycle of this phase, and that caused the loss...Read more
Opportunity Mars Rover Preparing for Active WinterSpace Fellowship, September 25th
This stereo view from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows contrasting textures and tones of "Hinners Point," at the northern edge of "Marathon Valley," and brighter outcrop on the valley floor to the left. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech...Read more
Way We Were: Park City's Grand Opera HouseThe Park Record, September 22nd
This stereoview by photographer T.E. Hinshaw, dated June 14, 1897, shows a crowd gathered outside the newly built Grand Opera House for Miner s Union Day. The Park Record remarked on the beautiful weather and sweet music, then noted that the ...Read more
sharp-eye Surrey satellites see EarthBBC News, September 16th
The spacecraft also have the ability to swivel and look sideways, and so will often be tasked to work in unison to patch together wide mosaics, or even make stereo views of particular scenes. The rural shot of Argentina was acquired by TripleSat-1; the...Read more
Mysterious bright spots on Ceres come into focusChristian Science Monitor, September 10th
Each cycle includes 14 orbits, and will take images a a different angle for each cycle in hopes of gathering enough imagery to assemble stereo views and 3-D maps of the surface. Dawn's claim to fame is as the first mission to visit a dwarf planet, and...Read more
The Sale of Wes and Shelley Cowan's StereoviewsMaine Antique Digest, July 1st
To look at just the monetary results of the sale of Wes and Shelley Cowan's stereoview collection, sold by Cowan's Auctions in Cincinnati on March 30, is to understand only half the picture—like gazing into a stereoviewer and finding the image can be...Read more