Young Woman With Becker’s Tabletop Stereoscope
1864-66; albumen silver print (carte de visite) from glass negative; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts -Porter Photograph Parlors (American, active Janesville, Wisconsin, 1860s)
The stereopticon was in some ways the end-of-the-Nineteenth-century’s equivalent of the end-of-the-Twentieth-century’s VCR. Though not inexpensive, at least one of these entertainment devices was to be found in nearly every middle and upper class parlor of the time.
At first, the shows used random images, but over time, lanternists began to place the slides in logical order, creating a narrative. This “visual storytelling” directly preceded the development of the first moving pictures.