Last in bed

Last in Bed

Last in bed puts out the light

Another fascinating stereoscopic image from about the 1890s, this time showing an intimate moment between man and wife. The card is #17 in a series and entitled “last in bed puts out the light.”

Last In Bed Cropped

As before, I pulled one piece of the image to manipulate a bit so we can try to see better what is happening. The couple are preparing for bed. Note that the lamp is on the woman’s side of the bed, so I wonder if she will get stuck with the domestic task. The man has draped his clothing over the foot of the bed and it appears the woman has draped her dress over a chair.

The card was made by Webster & Albee Publishers, in Rochester, NY. Apparently the cards were exclusive as they state “Sold only by canvassers.” I am not sure what a canvasser was.


An hour before the wedding

Wedding stereoscope

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.

Wedding stereoscope 2

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!

Beasts of burden

Sometimes I think if it wasn’t for Sepia Saturday I would never acquire more old photos. Then I realize that’s just plain crazy talk, but that’s beside the point. One thing I like about Sepia Saturday is it makes me consider what the prompt images mean, or how they inspire me. This week’s prompt image shows a couple gypsy caravan type wagons, advertising birds, beasts and reptiles! After a good long search through the bin at my antique shop source, I have beasts and birds, even a fish image, but no reptiles. Enjoy.

Big Horn Sheep, Banff, Canada

Big Horn Sheep, Banff, Canada

This is a nice real photo postcard, probably part of a set showing wildlife of Canada. Note the number 42 in the lower right corner.

Climb aboard, kiddies

Climb aboard, kiddies

Here’s a snapshot on really flimsy paper showing three small children on a horse being held by a woman. They are quite obviously in a barnyard or stable yard. The roof of a building is hidden in the trees behind the children.

Beasts 3

Checking on the herd

Beasts 4

Bountiful Bossy

Here are two images of a woman and cattle. In the upper image there is a small child just behind her left shoulder out in the field with her. You can see a barbed wire fence and then a stone fence in the distance. The lower image shows a woman holding her bucket of milk from her cow. The photo was taken in a dooryard, it seems. You can see the house in the background.

Beasts 5

Stereoscopic image, Ruins of Cana in Gallilee

Beasts 6

Stereoscopic image, California Partirdges

Beasts 7

Stereoscopic image, #497 A fine string of black bass

Beasts 8

Stereoscopic image, #777 Group of Quails, Kilburn Brothers, Littleton, New Hampshire


And, last but not least….

Beasts 1


Some people call these travel trailers a caravan. :-)

For more interesting images from around the world, click over to Sepia Saturday. You will be happy you did.

Join the wagon train

Fabulous Pittsburgh!

Well, here we are again with Sepia Saturday and the prompt has quite a lot of latitude. Since our sponsor Alan will be on holiday in Spain this weekend, I chose this photo since I will also be on holiday…in Pittsburgh. Not quite as glamorous as Spain, but I’ll be meeting with friends and that’s what is important. This is a stereopticon card showing the Court House, Bridge of Sighs and Jail in Pittsburgh, PA. The stereopticon was an early 3D photography technique that required a special viewer like this one.

The two images are taken from slightly different angles and the convergence of the two images in the line of sight tricks the human brain into thinking it is seeing one image with depth. The modern day Viewmaster was a refinement of the technology, using smaller slides and putting them into a circular sleeve that would advance with each click of the lever.

The stereopticon was invented in the 1830s and became popular both at home and in arcades as entertainment and education. Queen Victoria helped popularize the device in the 1850s, and in the US in the 1860s the Holmes stereopticon was invented and became the gold standard of 3D viewing. They are still produced apparently, in limited numbers.

Stereopticon images allowed the viewer to “see the world” while sitting in their living room. The most popular slides were travel and geography slides, showing the viewer all the sights – such as above. A trip to your local antique shop will probably bring you in contact with an enormous box full of old stereopticon slides of images all ’round the world.

The Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail were joined by the Bridge of Sighs, which is an homage to the original in Venice, Italy. The architect was Henry Hobson Richardson and it was constructed in 1884. I’ve read that Richardson felt this was his greatest work and he even tried to anticipate progress through the years by building in extra stone blocks a full floor below the 1880s street level. Unfortunately when the street was lowered, the entrance was a full floor above the new street level and the grand entrance he designed for the courthouse was closed up with tunnel-like entrance halls. The bridge was originally used to transport prisoners from the courthouse to the jail and vice versa. Today it is still used for this purpose but inmates are bussed from the main jail which is a few blocks away.

Please click through to Sepia Saturday and experience travel and more from around the world!

UPDATE: per your request, follow this link to see modern photos of this lovely old building and also learn a little bit about the architect Henry Hobson Richardson.

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