What kind of entertainment would you have as a Soviet kid growing up in the 1980s? A couple of dolls, clothes; metallic constructor sets, the vinyl recordings of children’s stories; some cassettes with popular Russian songs, and a bunch of filmstrips. These things were in almost everyone’s possession – at least, that’s how I remember my friend’s toys. However, I had something very special – a set of stereo cards, along with a simple stereoscope that looked like binoculars.
Not long after the Brewster viewer first appeared and the interest in stereoscopy grew the market for viewers grew likewise and many designs of stereoscopes appeared including some very fine British viewers. Read about box sliding viewers, book viewers, viewers with cabinets and many more.
It’s probably safe to assume that most people were introduced to 3D images via View-Master. Introduced at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, the handheld 3D viewer was a very popular format that sold literally billions of products from the 1940s right on through the 2000s. Here you’ll find a brief history of View-Master, some images from my collection and key content categories that may be of interest to those looking to start or grow their collections.
The Brewster stereoscope was without doubt the singular most popular design of stereoscope from 1851 until the 1930’s when new formats took over and during this time its basic design changed very little. Though, there soon was a broad variety of improvements and elaborate decorations.
The Verascope and the Taxiphote are two halves of an unbelievable stereo development effort that went on for 40 years essentially without any changes. The Taxiphote was exported to and patented in many countries. All this serves as an example of how attractive stereoscopy was at that time, and also confirms the quality of the Taxiphotes as a technical device. We can only guess at the prestige of having a Taxiphote at that time.
I understand it’s 2021 and I’m talking about shooting on film. From an educational standpoint though, the limitations it imposes forces you to learn the basics of exposure, composition and how to be more intentional with your artistic choices. Spending an hour or two mounting slides is definitely an exercise in humility as you reflect on all the things you wish you did right. As you get familiar with it, there’s a rhythm that develops with the tactile experience and it’s pretty relaxing.
What is meant by true crime? It’s a nonfiction genre having to do with actual crimes, usually murder. It’s popular now, but it was popular in the 19th century too‒just think of the penny press and the National Police Gazette. As the joke says, “Crime may not pay, but it sells!”. I was curious to see if it made its way into stereo cards, too. In what follows, I’ve tried to provide a thumbnail sketch of each crime. Accounts from the time often vary, so I’ve tried to present a composite set of the facts which I think are the most likely.
The viewing experience of stereo photos sometimes is just as if you could step right into the scene. But the flatness of distant landscapes is an undeniable drawback for the stereoscopic effect.
Read about the reasons and methods to enhance the depth in such stereo photos. Look at historic glass slides as well as at modern drone stereo photos.
Michael Burr was one of the most prolific photographers of staged genre stereoviews in the Victorian era. Like most photographers Burr had his favourite models who make regular appearances in his tableaux. One of them, and perhaps the most relevant to readers of this article, appeared as the wife of a stereograph enthusiast who, while her husband is occupied in scrutinising the latest offerings from the travelling stereo salesman, takes the opportunity to flirt with the top-hatted purveyor of 3D delights.