Stereoviews

The World in Depth (circa 1850s-1950s)
Photo of a Stereocamera
Stereoview camera credit: Science Museum Group (Gift of Alfred Dawson)
Photography was a product of the Industrial Revolution and subject to the forces of mass production and consumption. One of the most popular formats was stereography. Early attempts to develop stereo daguerreotype portraits proved too expensive.

With the development of cheaper paper images in the late 1850s, a whole new era of photography was at hand.

Stereoptic technology allowed photographers to create the
illusion of a three-dimensional image. Two very similar images were created by placing dual camera lenses 2 ½ inches apart. By mounting
the developed images side-by-side on a 3 ½ by 7-inch piece of cardboard backing, a sense of depth was created when placed in a stereoscope viewer.

Photo of a Stereoscopic Viewer
Stereographic view of the State Capitol

Click the Stereoview above to see it rendered

Photo of woman with a stereoviewer

Stereoviews taken by photographers at interesting locations all over the world provided a safe and affordable alternative to long-distance travel.

Natural and architectural marvels appeared three-dimensional when viewed through a stereoscope. Some photographers staged comedic, romantic, or frightening scenes that customers could order from catalogues according to their particular interests.