As I have written before, stereoscopy and stereo-photography are part of a popular niche in photography and collecting. Some people, for example Ron Blum, of South Australia, have collected vast libraries of stereo images and are experts in the field.
For myself, it’s a peripheral interest, but that hasn’t stopped me from accumulating a few hundred traditional stereoview cards and also a handful of different stereoscopes. One with particular resonance for me is the bright red plastic “View-a-Scope” issued by the Sanitarium food company in the 1960s to view a couple of series of stereo cards issued free with packets of breakfast cereal. As a “Weet Bix kid” I was an enthusiastic collector of these cards and used to regularly send for the free “project posters” on which to display the cards I got from the cereal boxes. I was too young to nag my parents for the stereo viewer when the stereo cards were being issued, however, and I can see that, with the viewer selling for two shillings and sixpence, I would probably have nagged in vain. Money was fairly tight in our household in those days.
My father used to tell me, when urging me to have short showers, that I could shower for as long as I liked when I was older and paying my own hot water bills. Being much older now, I not only shower for as long as I consider necessary, I have also bought myself a vintage Sanitarium “View-a-Scope” – even though my original collection of cards has long since gone.
Cigarette manufacturers also used to issue collector cards as a marketing gimmick, and many stereo series were produced. Naturally these required viewers too, and these tended to be very compact and often clever in the way they unfolded in readiness to be used.
A couple of my favourite viewers are Australian models. The Hanimex Vista Viewer is a nice one, which actually works very well. The Aussie Super View system used fiddly little rolls of film, but also gives a very good stereo effect when viewing.
There are hundreds of other styles of stereo viewer available, both old and new.
Click here to see a very impressive collection of vintage stereoscopes.