Nostalgia Sunday – The Holy Land in Stereo

April 5, 2010 - 12:24 AM by

Back before Avatar, kiddies, there was stereoscopy. The technology today seems fairly simple — two separate images printed side-by-side and peered at through the lens of a stereoscope viewer — but the invention was groundbreaking and it was the virtual reality of its day.

The difficult part was providing the public with new and different pictures of faraway places that they could only dream of visiting. Intrepid photographers ventured forth to gather images from such places and, as was to be expected, the Holy Land proved a popular subject.

Take, for example, this glimpse of an “Easter procession of Greek Patriarch, entering the Church of Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem”.

Each Stereoview image came with a descriptive text, such as: “Pilgrims on the Via Dolorosa – the route to Calvary – Jerusalem”.

“Baptising in the Jordan, Palestine”.

These images are gleaned from the World of Stereoviews, an informative website and reasonably priced online shop featuring over 14,000 stereoscopic images dating from the 1850s onwards by well known photographers of the day such as the 1850s views by Francis Frith, B.L. Singley’s Fine Art Photographers’ Publishing Co. and Keystone Views (1890s up until the mid 20th century), the Underwood Company, and M.E. Wright’s Excelsior Publishing (1900s).

“Barley harvest near Bethlehem, Palestine”.

“Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem, from outside”.

The site’s owners, Jenny and Ray Norman note that Wright “was a quirky publisher who either stole or bought images from others… He is known to have produced Middle East views by dressing up his family and taking them in Lancashire – saved the trouble of the journey.” However, these fellows seem to be the real thing!

“Bedouin robbers, wilderness of Judea, near the road to Jericho, Palestine”.

Comments

3 Comments on Nostalgia Sunday – The Holy Land in Stereo

    [...] written in a previous column, stereoscopic technology comprised two separate images printed side-by-side, mounted on cardboard [...]

  1. Foto Friday – Israel in 3D | ISRAELITY on Fri, Dec 16th 2011 8:05 PM
  2. [...] written before about 19th century stereoscopic images of the Holy Land. The 20th century version was the ViewMaster (more on that another day) and the anaglyph, popularly [...]

    [...] are a person of a certain age, then the ViewMaster holds a special charm. Like its predecessor, the Stereoscope, the View-Master was the virtual reality viewer of its day: a device designed to present 3-D photo [...]

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