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Stereoviews

Stereoviews, also known as stereographs, were novelty images that became popular in 1860 through the early 1920s. Consisting of two images side by side, either on glass or pasted onto a sturdy card, stereoviews were meant to be observed through a special viewer, called a stereoscope, that created the effect of a three dimensional image.

The stereoscope was invented in 1833, predating the photograph. Inexpensive stereoviews images were first drawings, and sometimes reproduced by lithography. After the development of photography, daguerreotypes, tintypes, and ambrotypes were all used in stereoscopes. As improvements in paper and cameras developed throughout the 19th century, higher quality images were those printed from the negative on silver gelatin paper.

Stereographs were typically not meant as a high art form, or as a serious documentary vehicle, but were mostly for the purpose of entertainment. Stereoscopes and a collection of images would be passed around at social gatherings. Popular images of famous people and places were produced as tourist keepsakes, though some well-respected photographers had their images printed as stereographs. Stereoviews are often seen as an advancement towards the development of the motion picture.


Quick Facts

  • One of the most popular categories of images used in stereoscopes was railroad imagery, as this type of transportation developed extensively in the 19th century, especially with the development of the transcontinental railroad from Sacramento to Utah
  • Carleton Watkins was one of the most prolific producers of images of the American West. His images were published widely as stereoviews, and their popularity introduced the population of the Eastern states to the vast wonders of Yosemite valley
  • The most prolific producer of stereoviews in the United States was the Keystone View Company in Pennsylvania, and in the United Kingdom, the London Stereoscope Company

Recommended Items at Auction

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Large Stereoscope Collection
Mar 02, 9:00 AM EST
Large Stereoscope Collection
by Dovetail Auctions, LLC
Est: $5- $500
$22015 Bids
SCHUHKARTON VOLLER STEREOBILDERN UM 1900, CA. 140 STÜCK
Mar 01, 11:00 AM CET
SCHUHKARTON VOLLER STEREOBILDERN UM 1900, CA. 140 STÜCK
by Auktionshalle Cuxhaven
Est: €0- €0
€1007 Bids
Stereoviewer and Cards
Mar 02, 9:00 AM EST
Stereoviewer and Cards
by Dovetail Auctions, LLC
Est: $5- $500
$354 Bids
Stereoviewers
Mar 02, 9:00 AM EST
Stereoviewers
by Dovetail Auctions, LLC
Est: $5- $500
$404 Bids
Lot of 119 Antique Stereograph Cards with Viewer C1890
Mar 02, 12:00 PM EST
Lot of 119 Antique Stereograph Cards with Viewer C1890
by Winfield Auction Gallery
Est: $200- $400
$1803 Bids
Collection of Antique Stereoviews
Mar 01, 9:00 AM MST
Collection of Antique Stereoviews
by Davis Brothers Auction
Est: $50- $75
$253 Bids
Stereoscope, 20+ Stereo
Mar 05, 9:00 AM EST
Stereoscope, 20+ Stereo
by Wehrly's Auction Service
Est: $0- $0
$82 Bids
Collection Antique Stereoscope Viewer Cards, Religious, Architectural, Portraits
Mar 03, 10:00 AM CST
Collection Antique Stereoscope Viewer Cards, Religious, Architectural, Portraits
by Rivich Auction
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
[STEREOSCOPES AND CARDS]. A Large Group of Nearly 1,300 Ste...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[STEREOSCOPES AND CARDS]. A Large Group of Nearly 1,300 Ste...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$5000 Bids
[STEREOVIEW CARDS]. A Large Group of Stereoscopic View Card...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[STEREOVIEW CARDS]. A Large Group of Stereoscopic View Card...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $500- $800
$2500 Bids
A vintage Underwood and Underwood Stereo card viewer 32 cm.
Mar 01, 10:00 AM GMT
A vintage Underwood and Underwood Stereo card viewer 32 cm.
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £20- £40
£150 Bids
Betrachter für Stereo-Fotos - Viewer for stereoscopic photographs about 1900
Mar 02, 9:30 AM CET
Betrachter für Stereo-Fotos - Viewer for stereoscopic photographs about 1900
by Berliner Auktionshaus GmbH & Co. KG
Est: €0- €0
€800 Bids
FRENCH STEREOSCOPE-GRAPHOSCOPE, c.1900
Apr 12, 10:00 AM CDT
FRENCH STEREOSCOPE-GRAPHOSCOPE, c.1900
by Austin Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $200
$800 Bids
GRAPHOSCOPE STEREO CARD VIEWER
Apr 12, 10:00 AM CDT
GRAPHOSCOPE STEREO CARD VIEWER
by Austin Auction Gallery
Est: $200- $400
$1500 Bids
STEREO CARD VIEWER WITH MAGNIFIER
Apr 12, 10:00 AM CDT
STEREO CARD VIEWER WITH MAGNIFIER
by Austin Auction Gallery
Est: $80- $150
$600 Bids
(110)STEREOSCOPE VIEWER & CARDS, ONE MINIATURE SET
Apr 12, 10:00 AM CDT
(110)STEREOSCOPE VIEWER & CARDS, ONE MINIATURE SET
by Austin Auction Gallery
Est: $50- $80
$400 Bids
MAHOGANY CASED TABLETOP STEREO VIEWER, c.1900
Apr 12, 10:00 AM CDT
MAHOGANY CASED TABLETOP STEREO VIEWER, c.1900
by Austin Auction Gallery
Est: $150- $250
$800 Bids
[STEREOVIEW CARDS]. George Armstrong Custer “Our First Gri...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[STEREOVIEW CARDS]. George Armstrong Custer “Our First Gri...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$5000 Bids
FINE VICTORIAN ERA STEREOSCOPE-GRAPHOSCOPE
Apr 12, 10:00 AM CDT
FINE VICTORIAN ERA STEREOSCOPE-GRAPHOSCOPE
by Austin Auction Gallery
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
STEREOSCOPIC PHOTO AUTOGRAPHED BY WRITER LEV TOLSTOY
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
STEREOSCOPIC PHOTO AUTOGRAPHED BY WRITER LEV TOLSTOY
by Antique Arena Inc
Est: $100- $150
$500 Bids
(3) STEREO CARD & POSTCARD VIEWERS
Apr 12, 10:00 AM CDT
(3) STEREO CARD & POSTCARD VIEWERS
by Austin Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $150
$800 Bids
Antique Stereograph Cards with Viewer C1890
Mar 02, 12:00 PM EST
Antique Stereograph Cards with Viewer C1890
by Winfield Auction Gallery
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Stereoviews


Austin Auction Gallery

Austin Auction Gallery

Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.

Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.

Winfield Auction Gallery

Winfield Auction Gallery