This decorative stereoscope is a revolving viewer with chain mechanism like the Mattey stereoscope. The revolving stereoscope is invented by Antoine Claudet in 1855 and improved by Alexander Beckers from New York. In France this type of stereoscope is therefore also known as Stéréoscope Américain.
The device contains no traces of a manufacturer, which is not uncommon for stereoscopes from France. Given the supported 8,5 x 17cm format, the decorations and mechanism, this device was probably produced somewhere between 1860 and 1890. Its design is modest. The lenses can't be focused and the distance between the lenses is not adjustable. It can hold 50 stereoviews but unlike the Mattey, the chain with cardholders can't be removed from the device to change the slides or cards.
This decorative stereoscope is special for its beautiful mother of pearl decorations. Floral and butterfly motifs are visible on front, both sides and on top of the device. Mother of pearl refracts light in vivid rainbow hues and gives the viewer a luxurious appearance. It's the reason that I bought this viewer. The revolving stereo viewers don't offer the best viewing experience, but this is a beautiful antique showpiece.
- Stereoscopes: the first one hundred years, Paul Wing, 1996