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French tissue stereocard, transparency stereo-albumen prints from a wet collodion negative, depicting a London panorama towards St Paul's, taken from above Parliament, by B. K., 1860s - 1870s. IL.2003.44.6.3.330

French tissues

Tissue stereographs, or French tissues as they are more commonly known, were a creative twist on the more typical albumen stereoviews.

French tissue stereocard, transparency stereo-albumen prints from a wet collodion negative, depicting a street scene in Paris, by an unknown photographer, 1860s - 1870s. IL.2003.44.6.17.217 © Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland

Using thin translucent paper mounted between two glass plates or card, when viewed against a light source the photographic image was transformed into a magical experience of light, darkness and colour. The two layers of tissue diffused the light, and additional pin pricks allowed sharp bursts of light to suggest candle light, chandeliers or windows.

French tissue stereocard, transparency stereo-albumen prints from a wet collodion negative, depicting the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, by an unknown photographer, 1860s. IL.2003.44.6.11.177 © Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland

Available commercially in 1855, this popular novelty used backlighting to create drama and depth of field. When viewed without a light source, the images appear flat and uninteresting (as seen below). However once placed in front of a light they create enchanting and atmospheric spectacles.

French tissue stereocard, transparency stereo-albumen prints from a wet collodion negative, depicting Nelson’s Column and St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London, by B. K., 1860s- 1870s. IL.2003.44.6.3.304 © Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland

Most tissue stereos were made in France between 1858 and 1875, hence their nomenclature, but others were produced in Great Britain, Germany, Italy and the United States. We have reproduced nine here for you to enjoy.

French tissue stereocard, transparency stereo-albumen prints from a wet collodion negative, depicting the Albert Memorial, London, by Leon & Levy, Paris, 1860s - 1870s. IL.2003.44.6.3.370 © Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland

French tissue stereocard, transparency stereo-albumen prints from a wet collodion negative, depicting a View of Waverley Bridge, Edinburgh and the Old Town from Princes Street, by an unknown photographer, sold by Lennie, Edinburgh, 1860s. IL.2003.44.6.2.204 © Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland

French tissue stereocard, transparency stereo-albumen prints from a wet collodion negative, depicting Life Association Building and New Club in Princes Street, Edinburgh, by an unknown photographer, sold by Lennie, Edinburgh, 1860s. IL.2003.44.6.2.205 © Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland

French tissue stereocard, transparency stereo-albumen prints from a wet collodion negative, depicting Berlin, Unter den Linden, by an unknown photographer, 1860s - 1870s. IL.2003.44.6.17.236 © Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland

French tissue stereocard, transparency stereo-albumen prints from a wet collodion negative, depicting the Leaning Tower of Pisa, by an unknown photographer, 1860s - 1870s. IL.2003.44.6.17.215 © Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland

French tissue stereocard, transparency stereo-albumen prints from a wet collodion negative, Evening, depicting smartly dressed people dancing and socialising, by an unknown photographer. IL.2003.44.6.7.326 © Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland

French tissue stereocard, transparency stereo-albumen prints from a wet collodion negative, The Fairy, by James Elliott, London, 1860s - 1870s. IL.2003.44.6.5.368 © Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland

French tissue stereocard, transparency stereo-albumen prints from a wet collodion negative, Le Judgement Dernier (The Last Judgement), depicting skeletons and demons, Diableries A series, card A2, by Habert, 1860. IL.2003.44.6.7.544 © Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland

French tissue stereocard, transparency stereo-albumen prints from a wet collodion negative, Le Pas du Serpent (The Serpentine Dance), Diableries C series, card C10, by an unknown photographer, 1868. IL.2003.44.6.7.546 © Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland

Further reading:

The World of Stereographs by William C. Darrah. Publisher: Land Yacht Pr; Nashville, Tn. USA, 2 Reprint edition (August 29, 1997)

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This article is from the free online course:

Stereoscopy: An Introduction to Victorian Stereo Photography

The University of Edinburgh