The Stereo Viewer


Stereo images have always had a small, but dedicated, cult following. Viewers and images appear frequently at auction and cover an enormous spectrum of subjects from fairly crude 'what the butler saw' images to technical drawings. Amongst this diverse assemblage, we have found two sets of Spirella slides. In the 1930s, and possibly even later, stereo viewers could be purchased by the corsetieres (Spirella rarely gave away anything for free), for the purposes of showing clients their merchandise. Some of the images are really quite extraordinary, and one is left wondering if the stereo concept was purely for advertising. Certainly, some of the models, look rather embarrassed and the poses are, in some cases, awfully contrived. Nevertheless, they represent a curious piece of history.


My husband adds that when he looks through the viewer, he feels that he is intruding into a private place, a 'women only' domain and that he is 'peeping'. He summed it up as a curious "What the butler saw feeling!"

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To save space, we have only included the left-hand example of the stereo pair of slides.