stereo views golden era.jpg

My grandparents owned a stereopticon (a viewing device for looking at stereo pairs) and a collection of Underwoods & Underwood pictures, plus a few stereo shots of themselves when they were a newly-married couple. I was always fascinated by the illusion of real, 3-d depth — not merely the trick of perspective, but the sensation of solidity that stereoscopic photos produce in the mind of the beholder.


When I was growing up, I had a collection of 3-D comics — pictures made with a red image for one eye and a slightly different image in blue or green for the other. With the proper anaglypth (red and green) glasses, these pictures gave a fairly convincing sensation of depth comparable to the sensation produced by the old stereopticons.


After we moved to San Francisco, I came across — can’t remember where — some very nifty anaglyph drawings by Wayne Pope, a graphic artist who lived in the East Bay. I called him up; we met, liked each other, and agreed to put out a book of anaglyph stereo images taken from my collection of San Francisco stereos made in the nineteenth century. I supplied the accompanying text, while Wayne converted the images and added his own wonderful drawing to embellish the titles. The book never sold well (though still carries it). But it did attract the attention of Malcom Whyte, owner and publisher of Troubador Press. He contacted us, then signed us to produce another 3-D book with a much wider variety of subject matter. More on that book in the commentary that follows below.