Clients of early photographers were not the only ones to pose with the photographer’s own stereoscope(s). Two extant cartes-de-visite self-portraits by Thomas J. Nevin from The Nevin Family Collections captured his treasured stereoscopes, one with him holding a small viewer, possibly a Brewster, ca. 1868, and another with him standing next his large table-top stereoscopic viewer, possibly a Beckers (ca 1875).
THOMAS J. NEVIN’S SELF-PORTRAITS WITH STEREO VIEWERS
Above: Tasmanian Photographer T.J. Nevin ca, 1868 in white gloves with stereoscopic viewer. Photo © KLW NFC and The Nevin Family Collections ARR
Above: Tasmanian Photographer T.J. Nevin ca, 1875 standing next to a tabletop stereoscopic viewer. Photo © KLW NFC and The Nevin Family Collections ARR
WOMEN POSED WITH STEREO VIEWERS
Of all the extant photographs taken by Thomas J. Nevin of clients posing in his studio with his tabletop stereoscopic viewer, this one of an unidentified pregnant woman, taken ca 1873 from the Liam Peters Collection is undoubtedly the most arresting:
Above: hand coloured full length cdv of a pregnant woman standing next to the same big box stereoscopic viewer and table with the griffin-shaped legs which feature in five extant studio portraits by Nevin of clients, of himself and family members. The verso bears Nevin’s most common commercial studio stamp “T. Nevin late A. Bock, City Photographic Establishment 140 Elizabeth Street Hobart Town” etc etc and dates to ca. 1871-1874. Courtesy of © The Liam Peters Collection 2010. All rights reserved.
The photographic apparatus included within and completing the subject’s pose was intended to signify a middle-class relationship with up-to-date technology and the stereographic entertainments the apparatus provided. The pose became a convention of 1870s studio portraiture, viz. these examples from British photographers:
Above: Edward Reeves (1824-1905), a former watchmaker, established his photographic studio at 159 High Street, Lewes in 1858.
Source: Stereographica.com Antique Photographica
Above: Unattributed. Woman with stereoscopic viewer
Source:Stereographica.com Antique Photographica
MEN POSED WITH STEREO VIEWERS
Above: Dr David Brewster with his invention
Source: The Macleay Museum University of Sydney
Notes: This hand-coloured card-mounted stereo photograph, showing Sir David Brewster and a Brewster stereo viewer, was published by the London Stereoscopic Company and retailed from their New York shop about 1860. Reproduced courtesy of T.K. Treadwell, Institute for Photographic Research, Texas, USA
Above: Carte-de-visite placed inside an album leaf frame of a senior Freemason
wearing an apron and large lapel medal.
Photographed ca. 1874 in Thomas Nevin’ studio,
posed next to Nevin’s tabletop stereograph viewer. Verso is blank.
From © The Lucy Batchelor Collection 2009 Arr
Courtesy Peter and Robyn Bishop
Above: Portrait of young man with stereoscopic viewer by Thomas Nevin ca. 1874.
Verso has T.J. Nevin stamp incorporating the Royal Arms government insignia of lion and unicorn rampant.
Scans courtesy of © The Private Collection of John and Robyn McCullagh 2006 -2009. ARR.
HOW THE TABLETOP STEREO VIEWER WORKS
These examples were on the market recently. The notes below are from the seller’s website:
French TABLE TOP VIEWER for glass or paper views in the standard size (approx. 7” x 3.25”) circa 1870’s. The viewer comes with three cassettes that can be exchanged internally. Each cassette will hold 96 views back to back in 48 holders, The viewer measures 11” x 10” at the base and 20” high. The original key is included in the lot. Excellent original condition throughout.Winning Bid: $ 800
Very elegant floor standing STEREOSCOPIC VIEWER by Alexander BECKERS, circa 1870’s. It measures approximately 50” high. An interior paper label indicates Patent dates of May 29, 1866 and January 25, 1870. The viewer has focusing lenses either side and is usually mistakenly called a “Sweetheart” viewer. It holds approximately 800 views back to back in 400 wire holders. The belt is in good shape and everything works as it should. The optics too are first rate. The top viewer and the base are of two different woods as illustrated. It is possible it was a marriage at some point in it’s history. The most significant thing about this particular viewer is that it belonged to Alexander Beckers and came to this auction via his 85 year old granddaughter. A cabinet card of Alexander Beckers and his family is included in the lot. Refer Wing, page 67 for an illustration of a similar viewer. On page 62 there is a stereo view of the Beckers family for comparison.
Winning Bid: $ 5,750
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