Wednesday, April 1, 2015

It's a Stereopticon!

A few weeks ago a library patron gifted me with this wonderful vintage invention.  I had seen them before, but never handled one or looked through one. Over the years i had come across a few of the pictures whilst perusing cabinet cards at flea markets and antique shows.  But now I could actually load the pictures and experience the "sorta" 3D effect.

 The turn of the last century's answer to our View Master from the 1950's.

From Wikipedia - A  stereopticon is a slide projector or "magic lantern", which has two lenses, usually one above the other. These devices date back to the mid 19th century, and were a popular form of entertainment and education before the advent of moving pictures. Americans William and Frederick Langenheim introduced stereopticon slide technology—slide shows of projected photographs on glass—in 1850. For a fee of ten cents, people could view realistic photographs with nature, history, and science themes. At first, the shows used random images, but over time, lanternists began to place the slides in logical order, creating a narrative. This "visual storytelling" directly preceded the development of the first moving pictures The term stereopticon has been widely misused to name a stereoscope. A stereopticon will not project or display stereoscopic/three-dimensional images. The two lenses are used to dissolve between images when projected. All stereopticons can be classified as magic lanterns, but not all magic lanterns are stereopticons.

And that's no April Fool's joke!