Friday, July 26, 2013

Stereoscopic Views of Italy – early 1900s

Naples – La Porte de Capoue
Naples – La Porte de Capoue
(Click on thumbnail to enlarge image)
Before leaving for my summer vacation and taking an August blogging break I thought I'd post something a little unusual. These vintage images aren't strictly postcards, but I'm sure that anybody with a passion for vintage photography will enjoy looking at these stereoscopic photo cards of Italy - they were the forerunner of the View-Master and even today's 3D movies!

Stereoscopy was a technique whereby a three-dimensional view was created by photographing a scene at the same moment, but from two slightly different positions. The images were printed side by side and viewed through a special instrument – a stereoscope – which presented the two offset images separately to the left and right eye of the viewer, and gave the perception of three dimensional depth. Sadly I don't own a stereoscope, but I'd love to track one down to see how these photographs look!

These stereo views of Italy were published in the early 1900s by French studio Paris Stéréo as part of its “Vues d'Italie” series. Earlier stereo views from the late 1800s were often mounted on thick card, whilst these real black and white photographs are printed directly on photographic paper. The photographs are in perfect condition, with no foxing, and are wonderfully crisp with a wealth of detail. Long live film photography!

The first image of Porta Capuana in Naples records how the Renaissance city gate once appeared – the top level is no longer there today.

The second image is of Palazzo Spini Ferroni, which sits on piazza Santa Trinita in Florence – the ancient Roman column known as the Column of Justice is still found in the middle of the square and is visible in the distance.

Florence – Le Palais Spini
Florence – Le Palais Spini
(Click on thumbnail to enlarge image)

And last, but not least, a view of Rome, my adopted home. It shows piazza Trinità dei Monti with its late Renaissance church and the Roman – not Egyptian - obelisk Obelisco Sallustiano, which stands at the very top of the Spanish Steps. It is this church and obelisk that one sees when admiring the iconic view from the foot of the Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna, whilst from piazza Trinità dei Monti one can admire a view of the entire Eternal City below.

Rome – La Trinité du Monts
Rome – La Trinité du Monts
(Click on thumbnail to enlarge image)
Check out the Vintage Postcard Store for more vintage stereoviews

Find more vintage postcards over at Beth's postcard blog The Best Hearts are Crunchy and join other collectors on Postcard Friendship Friday.

Postcard Friendship Friday

5 comments:

dmarks said...

Good post. I have a few stereoscopes, and a viewer for them somewhere...

Beth Niquette said...

This is such an interesting post. I enjoyed ever bit. Thank you for all the work you do to tell the stories behind these fascinating postcards!

Happy Postcard Friendship Friday!

VioletSky said...

I was at a postcard show once where there was a stereoscope available (though not for sale) so you could see these cards as they were intended. It was pretty neat and as you say reminded me of the old ViewMasters.

have a good holiday!

Grace Bailhache said...

Hello Deborah,

This is a great trityque, I've never been in Naples but I love this travel in the past that you often offers us.

I had a friend who were passionnate of vintage cards and he knew a lot about stereoscopes, I'm wondering what his widow has done with his treasure ?

I supposed that you've already been in Firenze and Napoli ?

Happy (late) Postcard Friendship Friday!

Grace

Grace Bailhache said...

Hello Deb,

Just passing by to say hi, hope you didn't quit blogging and that everything is fine for you in Rome.

Grace

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