Stereographs

Spending too much time in photo archives, I would often come across prints that looked like duplicates, like this famous picture of Mark Twain or this one of Roosevelt in Yellowstone. I did not think much of them, assuming that was just an industry standard that photographers used back then for copies – I learned recently however that these were special prints called stereographs, and when viewed with proper glasses would produce a crude 3D effect (it is essentially the same concept behind the View-Master, a toy that many of us probably had when we were kids).

The Library of Congress maintains large collections of stereographs, including many from the early 20th century when it was a big industry for photographers. Some favorites:

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Along the walk, Brooklyn Bridge, New York

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Venice, from across the Lagoon at S. Giorgio Maggiore, Italy

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Major General Chaffee, China

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Harvesting Indian River pineapples, Florida, USA

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The Ginza (looking north) the most important thoroughfare in Tokyo, Japan

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Steel ocean-going tug, New York Harbor, most powerful of its kind in USA

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Place de la Bastille, Paris, France

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Westminster Bridge and the House of Parliament, London, England

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Mexican troops before the Hall of Congress, City of Mexico

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Making “pure Havanas,” the world’s most famous cigars, largest factory of Havana, Cuba

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The Cathedral and Campanile (178 ft. high, leans 13 ft.), Pisa, Italy

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The stereograph as an educator

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