I often see stereoscopes for sale in the antique shops. They were the first real home media, enabling people to see foreign lands, exotic animals, and even the simple and mundane of other people’s lives, all from the comfort of their own parlour. The stereoscope will remind many of you of the View-Master of our childhood (during the 70s). You could easily see the depth and clarity of an image because you were actually looking at two images taken from slightly different angles, thereby giving one a perception of 3D. The stereoscope of old works on the same principle. Two images, from slightly different angles, were placed on a card. The card was placed into a viewer that had a thin divider in its center. The person then held the viewer up to their eyes and that divider made it so that the left eye saw the left image and the right eye saw the right image. A 3D view!
This particular stereoscope struck me as it is entitled “An hour before the wedding.” An hour before the wedding and she is still getting her hair dressed?! Yikes! Modern brides will be gathered in the waiting area with their bridesmaids, awaiting the commencement of the wedding march or whatever music. But, a Victorian wedding might be taking place in the parlour, while the bride is getting ready in the bedroom. It was a very different world, was it not?
I pulled out one side of the image and tried to play with it so we could see it a bit better.
The poufy sleeve of the woman to the left of the bride belies the 1890s or 1900s as the timeframe for the image. It is unfortunate that the image is damaged in its center, so quite difficult to tell what is in the bride’s hands. You can see her shoes sitting on the floor, flowers on the dresser, and her friends dressing her hair. I do so wish we could see her dress!