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

Yesterday's Milwaukee
urbanmilwaukee, April 16th

The location of this view is approximately at 39th St. and Mt. Vernon Ave., looking southeast. Jeff Beutner is a collector of photographs, postcards and stereoviews of old Milwaukee. This column features these images, with historical commentary by Beutner...Read more

Community calendar, week of April 16, 2014
Wilkes Barre Times-Leader, April 15th

Catlin House, 232 Monroe Ave., Scranton, 7 p.m. Local historian John Revak will premiere “Northeastern Pennsylvania in Stereo,” a narrated ride along the Delaware & Hudson Gravity Railroad, using stereoviews enhanced with modern 3-D technology...Read more

Oculus releases new Rift 0.3.1 SDK
KitGuru, April 15th

In this mode, the application renders stereo views into one or more render targets, and then the Oculus SDK takes care of distortion rendering, frame timing, buffer swap, and GPU synchronization. Client Distortion Rendering now uses a mesh for...Read more

Jayne Ann Bugda
PA home page, April 11th

On Wednesday, May 28, local historian John Revak will premiere “Northeastern Pennsylvania in Stereo,” a narrated ride along the Delaware & Hudson Gravity Railroad using stereoviews enhanced with modern 3-D technology at the Lackawanna Historical ...Read more

Take a 3-D Journey Along the Gravity Railroad!
PA home page, April 11th

On Wednesday, May 28, local historian John Revak will premiere “Northeastern Pennsylvania in Stereo,” a narrated ride along the Delaware & Hudson Gravity Railroad using stereoviews enhanced with modern 3-D technology at the Lackawanna Historical ...Read more

WW1 3D photographs make battlefields come to life
Daily Mail, April 9th

Five further volumes were produced and a complete series contains 600 stereoviews. Although showing the same image left and right when layered on top of each other underneath the scope, they form a unique three-dimensional view. The set of images, ...Read more

v3® Parallax Scanning Brings a Near 3D Experience to 4K 60p Imaging at NAB ...
PR Web (press release), April 8th

In addition, 3D content requires a special two camera systems for production or an elaborate 2D to 3D conversion processes to generate stereo views. Parallax scanning is accomplished using a digital parallax scanner (DPS). The DPS is a moving iris ...Read more

Menomonee Valley, Early 1880s
urbanmilwaukee, April 8th

This is one of a series of stereoviews titled “Views in the Menomonee Valley,” from the early 1880s. The photographer is unidentified and very few of these images seem to have been produced. A few young gentlemen appear in the views who have been ...Read more