Keystone stereoviews

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I was looking for something else on eBay the other day when my fingers wandered over to the vintage photo pages. I saw a listing for a bunch of old “postcard-sized” photos, and realized they were stereoviews. Stereoview cards are two nearly identical photos printed side by side which, when viewed through a special viewer, give the impression of depth or dimension. If you ever played with a Viewmaster, it’s the same concept. I’ve never owned a stereoview card before, partly because I don’t have a viewer. But the price for the lot was super cheap, so on a whim, I bought them. They turned out to be smaller than the ones I’m used to seeing (these are all 4.75 x 2.5 inches). They are all from the Keystone View Company, which was in operation from 1892 to 1963, turning out images for use as educational tools. They became the largest publisher of these photos, and their catalog of images ran into the tens of thousands. The batch I have shows a variety of ethnographic and geographic images, nine from The Netherlands, two from Germany, one from Switzerland, and eight from Africa (a category rather dated in its generality, though a few indicate the more specific Congo region). I haven’t done enough research to narrow down how old they are. And I know nothing of where they came from, though several have this name handwritten on the back:

I chose to share the two above because they are thematically linked by showing groups of children. The first, from The Netherlands, is simply labeled “A GROUP OF CHILDREN”. The second one, from Africa, is labeled “CHILDREN FISHING FOR MINNOWS”.

4 comments on “Keystone stereoviews”

  1. I’ve never collected stereoviews in any kind of systematic way, but I pick them up whenever I see interesting or unusual ones. The earliest (1850s-1860s) were often genre scenes, which can be quite fun. Stereoviews generally aren’t expensive, but rare ones can be. One of these days I’m going to buy a viewer!

    • Ha! Yes, you’ll have to get a viewer if you have a bunch. I guess I keep avoiding the cards out of a feeling that I can’t really enjoy them without a viewer, but that’s obviously not true.

  2. exciting to see you posting again! (Sorry I haven’t commented sooner… #ChronicIllnessTime)

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