Stereoscope donated to BI Museum

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Buffalo Island Museum has a stereoscope and several stereographs donated by Spencer Carroll. The stereoscope is a wooden instrument with two lenses, a handle, stereograph holder, and a curved material that contours to the forehead for viewing the pictures.

Stereoscope on display at BI Museum.

Although the first photographs were invented around 1830, it was the stereoscope that made the pictures seem life-like. The stereoscope is essentially an instrument in which two photographs of the same object are taken from slightly different angles and are presented to each eye, thus blending the two images into a three-dimensional image.

The stereoscope was invented by Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1838, but it was improved by Louis Duboscq and later David Brewster. It became very popular when displayed at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, and Oliver Wendell Holmes helped to popularize it in the United States. In the 1890's, the Keystone View Company owned by B.L. Singley, was the major supplier in the United States selling educational sets to help teach students geography, science, history, and reading. Students enjoyed looking at life-like images of famous people, world historical sites, funny images, to pictures of war.

The stereoscope was tiresome to hold, and with the advent of the motion pictures in the 1930's and the easily held View Master in 1950, the stereoscope soon lost its popularity.

Buffalo Island Museum will be closed during the winter months. Please visit the museum's Facebook page for more information, pictures, and to enter our monthly BIM Mystery artifact contest. You may contact the museum at our e-mail address:

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