Images with Stereo Viewers and Some of Our Viewers

We collect images that show all kinds of stereo viewers. On this page we share a few of them with you. The first column shows the entire image, the second a close up of the viewer, and the third an example from our collection of a similar type of viewer.

The ambrotype above shows the earliest type of hand held stereo viewer. Resting on the hand tinted table cloth is a Brewster viewer, described by the scientist and photographic pioneer, Sir David Brewster in 1849. It is a box like instrument with a door on the top to let in light to illuminate a stereo view and sometimes with a frosted glass to back light stereo transparencies. Shown with it is our Negrettia and Zambra Brewster style viewer. It differs from the model in the ambrotype because it has focusing lenses while the viewer in the photograph appears to have fixed lenses.
The most common style of stereo viewer is shown in the cabinet card above. It is sometimes called a skeleton viewer with its "bare bones" construction but is most often called a Holmes-Bates viewer. It is based on the design of the 19th century writer, Oliver Wendell Holmes. He suggested it in late1860s as a cheaper and easier to manufacture viewer than the Brewster viewer shown above. It came to represent stereo viewers to following generations. We have a number of viewers of this style in various materials and modifications that span the period from the 1870s to the 1930s.

This carte-de-visite photograph above is one of our special prizes. It shows Miss Debra Rossa, a bearded lady in an elaborate dress standing next to a table holding a graphoscope viewer. This makes it doubly interesting to us since we collect photographs of "special people" as well as stereo viewers. The front of these viewers hold two lenses for viewing stereo pairs and a large lens to magnify and add dimension to single photographs. These table top viewers fold into a flat box. On the right above is one of several of our graphoscopes. It has a black finish and is decorated with gold and silver raised flowers.

A picture of Annie Jones, another bearded lady in our collection, can be seen on our "Special People" page.

On the left above is a tintype of a woman sitting by a round table which holds a cabinet style stereo viewer in the style called Becker. The interior of this type of viewer holds a number of stereo cards on a belt. When the knob on the side is turned the cards come into view one at a time. On the right is a cabinet viewer from our collection. This example is two sided with a set of lenses on both sides to allow two people to view back to back cards at the same time. Some of the viewers have a frosted glass instead of a second set of lenses for viewing transparencies.
For more information on the history of stereo viewers look at the book Stereoscopes - The First Hundred Years by the late Paul Wing, published in 1996 by Transition Publishing.

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**NOTE** All items on the Collection of Collections web site are in our private collection and are NOT for sale. From time to time duplicate items from our collection will be offered for sale in the Do You Remember This? shop on the GoAntiques cyber mall. Visit the Do You Remember This? inventory page for photographica and toaster related collectibles.

Please feel free to write us if you want to chat or share information about areas we collect but we will NOT give appraisals.

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Updated on 4/2004