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National Trust of South Australia

 

Stereoscope

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Fast Facts
Also known as Stereoscope
Type of thing Domestic


Place used In the home
Current location Mallala Museum


The stereoscope is a device which is used for viewing the printed images on the stereograph cards.

The stereograph card features two photographs positioned side by side at about two and a half inches apart-- one for the left eye and one for the right.

When the card is fixed into place in the stereroscope and when the two flat images on the card are looked at they are recognised as a single image with the illusion of depth.

In 1838 it was Charles Wheatstone who published a paper that provided the scientific basis for stereography and his early cards featured drawings not photographs.

At the Great Exhibition in 1851 the concept of stereographs was introduced to the public.The praise from Queen Victoria and the great interest shown by the visitors provided inspiration for the London Stereoscopic Company to develop the means for mass production of the stereographs. Between 1854-1856 over half a million stereographs were sold by the company.

In America the doctor and writer Oliver Wendell Holmes invented a hand held device for viewing stereographs.Ulitimately the designs for the stereoscope ranged from the small handheld item to a large piece of furniture that could give a changing display of up to a hundred stereographs.

From 1840-1920 the stereoscopes, which feature in the photographs on this page, created a form of entertainment at home and the users became armchair tourists. Many of the cards were images of scenes and buildings which had been captured by photographers travelling the world. 

With the development of photography "moving pictures "became the feature of entertainment and this took the public out of the home to halls and picture theatres. The stereoscopes and stereographs were casualties to changing technology.

The Mallala Museum is pleased families of the district donated the items and the public can reflect.

Sources

  • A Brief History of Stereographs and Stereoscopes by Lisa Spiro
A collection of stereographs which presented a 3D view.
A collection of stereographs which presented a 3D view.
This design for the stereoscope enabled the stereographs to used a as popular form of entertainment.
This design for the stereoscope enabled the stereographs to used a as popular form of entertainment.
A stereoscope designed to be handheld.
A stereoscope designed to be handheld.
This design of Stereoscope viewer helped popularise the use of stereographs.
This design of Stereoscope viewer helped popularise the use of stereographs.


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