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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Kovels on Antiques and Collectibles June 2015 Newsletter AvailablePR Web (press release), May 27th
Late 19th century photographers documented everyday life, scenic views and historical events with photographic images that look three-dimensional, called stereoviews. People could relax in their parlors while seeing the country with a box of stereoview ...Read more
Art exhibits for Fremont areaFremont Tribune, May 27th
Alongside works by Native American artists, stereoviews and photographs from the 19th century portray the indigenous people of the Great Plains as captured through a non-native lens. “Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts and Context in the Civil War...Read more
View of Milwaukee,1856urbanmilwaukee, May 26th
Jeff Beutner is a collector of photographs, postcards and stereoviews of old Milwaukee. This column features these images, with historical commentary by Beutner. Share on Facebook; Share on Google+; Share on LinkedIn; Share on Reddit; Share on Twitter...Read more
Vision Engineering's Mantis Elite-Cam HDToday's Medical Developments, May 26th
Featuring 2x - 20x magnification, a fully integrated HD camera with USB connection, 3D stereo view, and useful annotation software, the Mantis offers a complete solution for low magnification inspection, manipulation, and documentation tasks...Read more
FOVE Kickstarter Campaign Raises Over $175000 in its First 24 HoursRoad to VR, May 20th
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
Solomon Juneau Statue, Late 1880surbanmilwaukee, May 5th
This stereoview was fittingly done by famed photographer H. H. Bennett, who had a longstanding and close association with Metcalf. Metcalf's co-purchase of the Juneau statue was in keeping with the style of someone who was both an art collector and...Read more
This Is How Microsoft's HoloLens Could Boost the Race to Colonize MarsTIME, April 29th
Ever wonder what it's like to walk on Mars? You're not the only one. Take billionaire futurist Elon Musk, for example. Like so many other earthlings, he wants to die on Mars, “just not on impact.” He thinks colonizing the Red Planet is humanity's best...Read more
Leif Erikson at the Lakefront, About 1910urbanmilwaukee, April 28th
Northwestern depot to the south of the statue and many more railroad tracks along the lake. Jeff Beutner is a collector of photographs, postcards and stereoviews of old Milwaukee. This column features these images, with historical commentary by...Read more