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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds This object shows something very interesting because it is a photo by Jules Duboscq, and it shows some of the crystals he was using to make his lenses. Lots of early stereos are still lifes because it was easier, of course, because they are objects– they don’t move. Stereoscopy likes clutter, and the more objects there were, the better they looked in the stereoscope. You could go to your favourite optician and hire a stereoscope and some stereos for an evening, just like we did not so long ago for videos or DVDs. Birds are remarkable animals, and this one has his wings spread, so the depth is quite amazing. And, again, it doesn’t move.

Skip to 0 minutes and 55 seconds So, most animals, unfortunately, in stereos until nearly the 1880s are stuffed animals. At the time when Duboscq took this photo, it was it was technically impossible to take a live animal. It was craze. Everybody wanted stereos. In an evening, after a meal or just for tea maybe, people would just sit around the table, and they would hand over the slides and look at them in the stereoscope and talk about them. Even though I’ve seen hundreds of thousands of them, it’s simply magical. And, for me, the stereoscope is the closest one can get to time travel.

Duboscq's stereo daguerreotypes

Photo historian Denis Pellerin looks in more detail at some of (Louis) Jules Duboscq’s stereo-daguerreotype still life compositions and talks about how Victorians spent their evenings viewing stereo images.

As you watch the video, think about the role and impact of stereo images in 19th century life.

Is there any comparable new technology that has made a major impact on your life today?

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This video is from the free online course:

Stereoscopy: An Introduction to Victorian Stereo Photography

The University of Edinburgh