Wooden Stereoscopic Viewer

Wooden Stereoscopic Viewer. Date: late 19th - early 20th century. Accession #2018.09.12a

Stereoscopic viewers were a new means of entertainment and education for Americans in the late 19th century and early 20th century, as widespread interest in photography gave way to new means of experiencing depth and color through two-dimensional imagery. While stereoscopes were invented earlier in the 19th century, their popularity soared in the decades following Oliver Wendell Holmes’ 1861 design innovations.

Stereoscopes were used both in the home and the classroom. Accompanying this stereoscope from our collection are viewing cards, or stereographs, dated to be from the first decade of the 20th century. These viewing cards could transport the viewer to distant locations such as Yokohama, St. Petersburg, and Cairo. Glimpses of American farm life as well as African American populations are also represented in the collection. This stereoscope was found at Oak Shade, one of the properties featured in the Society’s Old Homes of Louisa County publication. The artifact was donated by a member of the Harris family, who owned and occupied this historic house from the 1830s-2000s.

Viewing Card or Stereograph showing children playing in side-by-side images

Viewing Card or Stereograph, marked "Ready for the Plunge," showing children playing in side-by-side images. Date: 1906. Accession #2018.09.12b

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