Stereoscopy – Stereoscopes

As photography developed as a commercial medium during the 1840s, it was realised that it was perfect for producing stereoscopic images and daguerreotypes were produced to be viewed using Wheatstone’s apparatus.  This was achieved initially by taking one photograph, then moving the camera a few inches and taking a second.  In early stereo views, sometimes the movement of people between the exposure of the left and right images is obvious. Soon, special stereoscopic cameras were developed to take the left and right images simultaneously, with two lenses separated by around the same distance as human eyes.

In late 1840s, David Brewster greatly improved the viewer by using lenses instead of mirrors and this allowed a compact, portable device to be produced.  Queen Victoria was amused by his viewer at the Great Exhibition 1851 and helped spawn a craze.  Brewster claimed that by 1856 over 500,000 viewers had been sold.

In the 1850s and 1860s, it can be argued that it was stereoscopic views, along with cartes-de-visite that popularised photography and spurred its growth and development.  The London Stereoscopic Company was probably the largest manufacturer of photographs in the world during the 1860s, with its slogan ‘a stereoscope in every home’.  By the end of the 1860s, this must have been virtually true for the middle class homes of Britain.

Although its popularity ebbed, there was a second growth phase in the 1890s, with Underwood and Underwood becoming a huge publisher of images.  They were eventually taken over by Keystone, who continued producing stereo views into the 1930s.

In addition to the classic stereo view card (approx. 170mm x 80mm), several other smaller side-by-side formats emerged (particularly in France).  The Viewmaster disc was probably the best known and is still produced today. (internet-no source name available)

The stereoscopic viewing cards posted here are from our collection and give you a glimpse into the past.

Travel and Nature

“A mountain torrent’s strength is here.” Yellowstone River at Yellowstone National Park, USA – c 1901


Down Yellowstone Canon, from Moran’s Point, showing crags, Yellowstone Park – c 1901


“In Wonderland” Watkins Glenn, New York, c 1899


The Royal Gorge and headwaters of the Arkansas River, Colorado, USA – c 1900


The Grandeur of the Royal Gorge and Canon Arkansas River, Colorado, USA – c 1900


Williams Canon, Maniton, Colorado c1904


Roger’s Pass from Hermit Mountain, British Columbia, Canada – c 1900


The beautiful Falls of the Riviere du Loup, Quebec – c 1902


Looking down Oak Creek Canyon Canon, towards Ouray, Colorado – c 1906


North Dakota Prairie Chickens in Autumn – c 1906


Climbing the steep Zigzags in the trail to the top of Nevada Falls, Yosemite Valley, Cal – c 1906


“The antler’s monarch of the waste” The American Moose -c 1905


Mirror Lake and Mt. Watkins, Yosemite Valley, Cal. c-1906


“The groves were God’s first temple”- Among the venerable Giants of the Mariposa Grove, Cal. c 1906


Hook Eye Curve, Breckenbridge, Col c-1904


Home in the Rockies, Ouray, Col c-1906


Striking cone of the Grotto Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, Cal. c 1900


Crater of the Giant Geyser, Yellowstone National Park – c 1900


The Gateway and Majestic Pike’s Peak, Col. USA  c 1900


Stupendous El Capitan, 3300 ft. above floor of Yosemite Valley, Cal. c 1900


Seventh Cascade, Cheyenne Falls, Manitou, Colorado c 1904


Moonlight on the Cedar Rapids of the St. Lawrence River c 1900


Crater of the Castle Geyser, “Old Faithfull” in distance,  Yellowstone National Park


“Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun” -Box Canyon, Ouray, Cal c-1906


Rugged Grandeur of Mystic Gorge, Au Sable Chasm, New York c 1906


Niagara’s most Enchanting sight – American Falls and Luna Island from Goat Island, Niagara, NY c 1905


Majestic Niagara, rolling in ceaseless roar – American Falls from below- USA c1901


“The breaking waves dashed high on a stern and rock bound coast” – Niagara Rapids




Italian Statuary, Palace of Liberal Arts, Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis, USAWorld’s Fair in St. Louis c 1904


Giant Elephant made of English Walnuts, California’s Exhibit in Horticuitural Building, World’s Fair in St. Louis c 1904


Judging Hereford Bulls, greatest of Cattle Shows, World’s Fair, St. Louis USA c1905



Randolph Street, Chicago, USA


Floral Beauty, Soldier’s Home, Dayton, Ohio, USA c 1892


An army miners and prospectors ascending the heights of the Chilcoot Pass c 1898


City of Cold Feet, Alaska c 1899


The Nation’s Capitol from the South East, Washington, DC c1900


East Room, (McKinley’s Administration) Mansion, Washington, DC c1900


U.S. Hotel Court, Sartoga, NY


Cotton is King- A Louisiana Plantation Scene c1900 (Prize Cotton)


A visit to Lallberte’s – the finest fur parlour in the world, Quebec, Canada c1904


“Aim Low Boys” Company M, First Illinois Volunteers, Spanish American War c1899


A Pretty Avenue in Elitcha Garden, a popular pleasure resort,  Denver, Colorado c1906



President William McKinley, our third Martyred President U.S.A. c1901


President Roosevelt with Alice Roosevelt-Longworth and Honorable Nicholas Longworth in Bridal attire c1906


Swedish Girls and their country home, province of  Blekinge, Sweden c1902


Monte Carlo, Bird’s eye View, Monaco  c1894


General View of Jani Temple and Grounds. Calcutta, India


Tablet in Albert Memorial Chapel, Windsor
Durham Cathedral from the River, Eng c1898


“Porta della Carta” Grand Entrance, Ducal Palace, Venice, Italy c1898


In Beautiful Drottningholm Place, Stockholm, Sweden c1901


An Irish Obstruction- Driving the pigs to market in the scenic land of Erie  c1905


General Subjects


“You can’t get me now” c1903


Weaning the Twins c1894


The Brides Prayer: “Make Thy face to shine upon me, Make my life a life of love”c1905


How dear to my heart are the scenes of my childhood c1903


Nearing the haven c1902


Innocents and the Household Pet c1905


Her Guardian Angels c1893


“He shall give His angels charge concerning thee  c1905


And they never called me c1899


A Light Lunch c1894



A Train Robber holding up a train  c1900


Quickest way to spread the news -TELL-A-WOMAN c1904


Quick way to Spread the News- Telegraph c1904


“Oh fortunate, Oh happy day”  c1894


Bliss c 1888


Bliss Disturbed c1888