This week’s interesting artifact blog post features a set of stereographs from 1901 with accompanying stereoscopes. The stereograph was the 19th century predecessor of the Polaroid. To use, two almost identical photographs were mounted side-by-side, the left photo represents what the left eye would see, as well as for the right. A stereoscope was used by looking through two lenses which contained mirrors or prisms to alter the view of the photograph. When observing the photos through the stereoscope the photos will converge into a three-dimensional image – an amazing illusion for anyone of that time.
|Trondhjem, Norway. 1902.|
By the late 19th century the stereograph was so popular that it is said that they could be found in every Victorian home - regardless of class. The stereograph became the first ever mass-produced photographic image. They could be bought alone or in sets ranging from inexpensive card mounted photographs to more costly types such as those mounted on glass or porcelain.
The Museum has a large collection of these stereographic photos, all of which are from the Underwood and Underwood company circa 1901. Underwood and Underwood, established in 1882, was the largest publisher of stereographs in the world, producing 10 million prints per year. The company produced many prints with varying themes and location, they later introduced boxed sets with themes such as travel, education and religion. Photographers also became in high demand during this time to travel the world and provide new and unique prints for the company. Overall, the Underwood and Underwood company produced 30,000-40,000 titles before discontinuing production in 1920.
|Coney Island, USA. 1908.|