Welcome to the historical collection of curiosities. Explore the Victorian era through the lens of everyday items and inventions. Check back often for new additions. If you have an item you’d like to donate, contact us!
Sun sculpture stereoscope viewer by Underwood & Underwood
ca. 1901 New York
15 x 10 x 30 cm
Victorian 3D vision? You betcha! Rediscover the Perfecscope. With its humble beginnings as a Holmes-Bates type stereoscope, this viewer was invented around 1860 by American poet Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. With no patent, the invention was free to the public to develop stereoscopes. Adding to the original design, Joseph L. Bates brought out the Holmes-Bates stereoscope, or American stereoscope.
The Perfecscope in this collection was manufactured by Underwood & Underwood. The company was founded in 1881 in Ottawa by brothers Elmer and Bert Elias Underwood. The item is crafted from aluminum and wood, with a soft velvet liner around the face frame.
On top of the hood is a Underwood & Underwood brand between leaf detailing. The wood handle can fold back easily onto the viewer for storage.
This object was used to view two nearly identical photographs, or stereographs, as a single three-dimensional image. Placing a stereograph card into the sliding card holder and adjusting the focus with a simple movable frame to fit each user’s vision. Once adjusted, the two images overlap to mimic a three-dimensional effect.
Stereograph Cards were sold at tourist attractions to bring home and place in the stereoscope to show friends and family and share stories. The styles progressed over time, and eventually color printed images were made directly onto the cardboard, where earlier images were two photographs adhered to the cardboard.
These items shown here come from a resident of Lake Elsinore and added to the Pearl Collection in 2022. Check out this Museum Catalogue Description for reference information.
Written on object:
(top) SUN SCULPTURE
U & U TRADEMARK
(underside) MAN’F’D BY
UNDERWOOD & UNDERWOOD
PATENTED JUNE 11, 1901
Chatelaine Mesh Coin Purse