Have you ever looked through a View-Master? If you have, you’ve enjoyed the same entertainment that many people did in the 1800s. Back then the stereoscope was the only way people could view the world in 3D.
With a double image card, called a stereograph and the magic of the stereoscope, a person could see a realistic rendition of people, outdoor scenes, or staged settings.
It seemed a miracle in the 1800s that someone in Hinton could travel to far-away places all with a hand-held mechanism that brought flat photographs to life.
Our eyes naturally combine two images that are conveyed to the brain where they merge into one three-dimensional image. Stereoscopes mimicked this same process. Two photographs were taken with a camera and then mounted on a tripod that included a sliding bar. The viewer would slide the tripod along the bar until the two pictures became one 3D image.
Sir Charles Wheatstone was the first to invent the stereoscope in 1838 but his was a bulky and awkward contraption. In 1862 Oliver Wendell Holmes created the simplified version called the Holmes Stereopticon. These remained popular until the 1930s.
The Campbell-Flannagan-Murrell House Museum has an Oliver Wendell Holmes Stereopticon. It was donated to the museum in 2010. Originally it had only two black and white cards to view, but a young member of the museum found a small stack of colored photographs. The photos are scenes or staged settings. The colors are still bright and the photographs are in good shape.
There’s no telling what one can find at the Pence Springs Flea Market.
The Campbell-Flannagan-Murrell House Museum thanks Lani Emrich for donating the photographs to the museum.
Visiting the Campbell-Flannagan-Murrell House Museum you may use the stereopticon to see what entertainment was like in the old days.