Expositions Popular Subject For Stereo View
In the second half of the 19th century, few families could afford to attend one of the great expositions, unless it was very near their own home. Instead, they enjoyed viewing the sights in their own parlors, by means of the stereoscope. Stereoviews of the various World’s Fairs and Expositions make an interesting area in which to specialize.
The first American fair views to appear on card stereographs were those of the New York Fair of 1864. A set of 15 views of exhibits and buildings was produced. The stereoscope was still a new-fangled invention at that time, however, and these stereoviews are rare.
By the Centennial Exposition in 1876, buying and viewing stereographs was a popular pastime. Visitors to the Exposition bought views as souvenirs. Those who could not attend bought them to see what had been missed.
Most of these series of cards were copies of photographic prints pasted on yellow cardboard mounts. The prints were on albumen paper, which can be recognized by its glossy appearance and sepia tone color. (The albumen coating was simply egg whites.) In contrast to later fairs, most of the views are of interior scenes, rather than exterior ones.
A series of albumen views of the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1894 was produced by Underwood, and Mont-gomery Ward advertised a dozen views of the same event, mounted on heavy cardboard, for a dollar .
At the time of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904, the lithoprint stereograph dominated the market. Such cards were usually multi-colored and made by reproducing either photographs or artists’ drawings. While the color feature makes these more attractive to some collectors, the quality and clarity of the stereo-views made from actual photographs is better.
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