Graphoscope

invented around the Civil War Era

History:

At one time, most French and English homes had a round table in the parlor, on which was usually a Bible and several other novelty items.  These novelty items were usually optical toys like graphoscopes.

Graphoscopes were produced around the same time as many stereoscopes.  They were extended to accomodate stereographic views; an example is the Holmes stereo viewer.  This device was taller and allowed people to see stereographic views, but it was essentially of the same design as graphoscopes.  People could view any small pictures with the graphoscope--works of art, photographs, and postcards. 

How it works:

The graphoscope had many things in common with magnifying glasses.  It was usually composed of a single lens that served to magnify whatever small picture was placed on the easel.  Later versions, called stereographoscopes, had two or three lenses and allowed people to see stereographic views.

Sources:

Interview with Dr. Ralph Wileman, July 24, 2000

Interview with Mr. Phil Condax, August 7, 2000