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WHAT IS A STEREOGRAPH? - n [ster-ee-uh-gram]

Stereographs, early forms of three-dimensional photographs, were a major vehicle for popular education and entertainment

in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Many nineteenth century photographers now regarded as fine artists produced

significant bodies of work in stereograph form; among these

were Timothy O’Sullivan, Carleton Watkins, and Eadweard

Muybridge. Stereographs were also used for journalistic reporting on many of the current events of the period: parades, disasters, and

political events. The Civil War and the Spanish-American War

are also documented on stereocards with textual commentary.


A popular subject for stereographs that were taken in the latter

19th century was the American West. The stereographs housed

in this show are from the series Geographical Explorations and

Surveys West of 100th Meridian from the library of Congress.


Stereographs : 1871, Black Cañon 1871, The “Picture” 1873, Colorado Cañon 1873, Cooley’s Ranch 1874, Characteristic Ruin 1874, Shoshone Falls


Photographer :

O’Sullivan, Timothy H., 1840-1882 Title :

Black Cañon, above camp 7

71 Black Cañon

Notes :

Photograph shows one of the survey’s small boats docked near rock walls along the Colorado River. A man sits on a rock overlooking the river.


71 The “Picture”

Notes :

Photo shows photographer Timothy O’Sullivan, fourth from left, with fellow members of the Wheeler survey and Indians, following ascent of the Colorado River through the Black Canyon.

Photographer :

O’Sullivan, Timothy H., 1840-1882 Title :

Boat crew of the “Picture” at Diamond Creek


Notes :

Original negative number: 28. Part of the series Geographical Explorations and Surveys West of 100th Meridian and Expedition of 1871.

73 Colorado Cañon Photographer :

O’Sullivan, Timothy H., 1840-1882 Title:

Colorado Cañon near the San Juan, Arizona.


73 Cooley’s Ranch

Photographer :

O’Sullivan, Timothy H., 1840-1882 Title :

Cooley’s Ranch, 10 miles east of Camp Apache, Arizona. Notes :

Original negative number: 9. Part of the series Geographical Explorations and Surveys West of 100th Meridian and Expedition of 1871


Title :

Characteristic ruin, of the Pueblo San Juan, New Mexico, on the north bank of the San Juan River, about 15 miles west of the mouth of Cañon Largo.

74 Characteristic Ruin

Photographer :

O’Sullivan, Timothy H., 1840-1882

Notes :

Photo shows the photographer Timothy O’Sullivan, seated on right, next to his 10x12-inch large-plate camera.


74 Shoshone Falls

Notes :

Original negative number: 92. Part of series U.S. War Dept., Corps of Engineers, Geographical Explorations and Surveys West of 100th Meridian and Expedition of 1874.

Photographer :

O’Sullivan, Timothy H., 1840-1882 Title :

Shoshone Falls, Snake River, Idaho.


Palace, 1851, and left a deep impression on Queen Victoria. The Queen saw several early binocular daguerreotypes in a Brewster type stereoscope. Partly due to the Royal interest the succes of the stereoscope was launched. Stereoscopy became extremely popular and a huge variety of camera’s and viewers were designed. Most famous for their mechanical and optical quality are the Jules Richard stereo camera’s, still in use today in the hands of many enthusiast collectors.However, on this page, I will focus on earlier stereo viewers, both handheld and the more elaborate salon stereoscopes. At the end of the 19th. Century, the stereoscope was the television of that era.“No home withouth a stereoscope” became a most popular slogan. The first commercial stereoscopes were produced by the French Duboscq & Soleil. These early stereoscopes and stereo photographs were exhibited at the first World exhibition in the Crystal


Stereoscopes : 1849, Brewster’s Stereoscope 1854, Modified Brewster’s 1861, The American Grandfather


49 Brewster’s Stereoscope

FIRST stereoscope ever seen in America.


Notes :

The box is of mahogany, and provided with a lid which can be raised so that an opaque card also may be viewed, if desired, by reflected light admitted from above.


54 Modified Brewster’s Stereoscope

Much space could be occupied in describing the many forms of stereoscope that have been devised

since that of Brewster was first put forth. They have all been applications of the principles already explained in connection with the reflecting and refracting instruments, devised in 1838 and 1849 e That of Helmholtz is probably the best in Europe. In this each tube extends into the box, and is provided with a pair of accurately centred plano-convex lenses, which greatly magnify the pictures. It is indeed simply a pair of telescope eye-pieces, each of which is screwed into a plate to which lateral motion, for the purpose of adjustment.


61 The American Grandfather

Notes :

Simple, strong, cheap and handy. These are the words Dr. Holmes, inventor of this stereoscope used to describe his design.


A Guide To Seeing Exhibit Guides : Exhibit Guide  

An exhibit guide for a stereograph exhibit designed by Juliane Chung

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