Today we take photography for granted, but when it was introduced in 1839 it was an impressive technology. In the 1840s a new product was introduced that became extremely popular: the stereoscope.
This handheld device allowed users to view pictures in 3D on stereoscope cards, also called stereographs. Stereographs had the same image side by side, taken at different angles. The slight difference in the pictures created an optical illusion that made the image appear three dimensional. Stereographs varied widely, from humorous pictures to famous landmarks to celebrities.
Stereoscopes were popular since they provided entertainment for the whole family. These devices show that interest in 3D movies and virtual reality is not as new as people think.
This stereoscope is currently on display in the Salem Museum’s feature exhibit “Cheers for 30 Years: the 30-Year History of the Salem Museum!”
“Cheers for 30 Years” celebrates the Salem Museum’s 30th anniversary with a look at artifacts and the stories they tell, now preserved in the Museum’s collections. Some favorite, but rarely seen, objects are on display. The Salem Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and located at 801 E. Main St. The Salem Museum opened in the Williams-Brown House in 1992.