Boer War Stereoscope Card

Today’s second hand market only yielded up a single piece of militaria for the collection, but it is rather a good one! Long before we had 3D cinemas, stereoscopes were very popular. A stereoscope works by providing two slightly different images side by side. One is viewed by the left eye and one by the right and the brain combines them together to make the image appear to have depth. In 1861 Oliver Wendall Holmes created a simple and cheap viewer that allowed images to be viewed by a wide audience. These became very popular and commercial companies produced a huge range of images of landmarks, people and scenes from around the world. As ever current affairs were big sellers and when the Boer War broke out it was only to be expected that cards were issued depicting scenes form the conflict. This card is one of those, showing Australians:SKMBT_C36415033108331_0001The rear of the card describes the image as ‘The Australians after their experience of the Victory at Belmont, Dec 31st, S.A.’:SKMBT_C36415033108330_0001The copyright on the front dates the card to 1900, so presumably the photograph was taken on 31st December 1899. The Battle of Belmont took place over a month earlier, so it seems the manufacturers were keen to make their image seem a bit more exciting for potential buyers by linking it to a battle. The card was manufactured by Underwood and Underwood:SKMBT_C36415033108331_0001 - CopyUnderwood and Underwood were at one time the largest stereoscope producers in the world, producing 25,000 cards a day in 1901. The image itself is of troops relaxing after the battle, with piled rifles:SKMBT_C36415033108331_0001 - Copy (2)One man is sorting his equipment (note the polka-dot neck scarf):SKMBT_C36415033108331_0001 - Copy (3)Whilst the chap in the foreground seems to be adjusting his putties:SKMBT_C36415033108331_0001 - Copy (4)Like the rest of the soldiers he is wearing the slouch hat popular during the conflict. A wooden ammunition box and set of tin cans is also clearly visible:SKMBT_C36415033108331_0001 - Copy (5)The soldiers in the background have an informality of dress that indicates the photograph was taken in the field:SKMBT_C36415033108331_0001 - Copy (6)Unfortunately I do not have a viewer to take advantage of the ‘3D’ effect, but I will keep my eyes open for a reasonably priced one and I can then enjoy the card as it was meant to be seen!

1 thought on “Boer War Stereoscope Card

  1. Pingback: Boer War Faked Stereoscope Card | Tales from the Supply Depot

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