Stereo Photographs
19th CENTURY STEREOGRAPHS

I first encountered stereo photography as a child of five or six when I came across a Holmes viewer and a set of World War I, or maybe it was Boer War views, in my mother's old nursery, when staying with my grandparents. I didn't find those particular views very appealing but the experience was memorable. Later, like most children growing up in the 1950s and 60s I encountered the Viewmaster phenomenon and red & green anaglyph 3D and always loved that magic moment when two flat images combine to make a single three-dimensional one.

Fast forward to 1990 and I had become immersed in holography, the ultimate in late 20th century 3D and gradually began to have a greater curiosity about earlier forms of three dimensional image making. A friend took me to a Photograph Collectors Fair where I was able to browse through hundreds, if not thousands, of mostly 19th century stereo views and acquire examples for as little as £1 each. It was irresistible.

Over the next ten years or so I amassed a sizeable collection of, mostly British, stereographs, and viewers of all shapes and sizes. I collected views of places I knew or was planning to visit and of subjects that appealed to me for a variety of reasons. All Victorian life was there in Genre Scenes, Still Life subjects, Pretty Girls, Children & Animals, and views of Landmarks and Beauty Spots throughout the UK.

As I became more discerning I took a special interest in particular photographers: the Landscape views of G.W.Wilson and the Genre views of Elliott and Silvester. These latter, mostly hand-coloured, images tend to be studio compositions, often with elaborate sets, telling Moral Tales , sentimentalising or poking fun at aspects of Victorian Life, or dramatising Well-Known Stories. The best examples are real jewels, dramatically composed and delicately coloured, and even these, at the time I bought them, were seldom more than £10 - £15 each which, considering that such fragile materials as paper and cardboard had managed to survive over 100 years, seems pretty good to me.

The selection of stereographs I am presenting here are some of my favourites from the Genre section of my collection. Some are from sequences or series that revealed themselves as I continued to visit dealers and fairs though, since I haven't come across any lists on which these images feature, I can't be sure that I have them in the correct order. I don't think it matters though as I enjoy looking at each one individually and I hope you will too.

Jonathan Ross
June 2007

To view more stereo 'slides' please select from the 'Collection' menu at the top of the page.

 

Please click on any of the albums above to view the stereographs in that section.

At any time, while viewing the slides, you can jump to a particular slide in the collection by clicking on its number.

To view a larger version of each image, simple click on it to open a full sized view in a new window.

To return to the main selection screen simple click on the "Gallery" image.