The stereoscope has a plaque on top with the inscription Panajou Frères. You would expect that this is the manufacturer of the device, but it isn't. Panajou Frères is a photography store in Bordeaux. The store was founded in 1865 by the brothers Fernand and Rémi Panajou. In 1899 they moved to 50, Allées de Tourny. The company is still in business and still located at the same address. Panajou Frères is the oldest photography store in France. It's a wonderful thought that this stereoscope was once displayed in a store with such a long history.
The stereoscope was built by A. Mattey from Paris. The company was founded in 1872 and was one of the largest French manufacturers of stereoscopes and accessories. Surprisingly they didn't produce stereo cameras. Mattey sold its devices using different trademarks and the best known is Unis France. A small logo of one of the other trademarks (8 & 9) is hidden inside the device and is the only reference to Mattey.
I'm surprised that I can't find more information about the history of this distinguished company. Even Mattey's first name remained a mystery, but I found a reference in the patent database and it's probably Albert Mattey. The last trace is a catalog that shows they were still in business in 1936. If anybody knows a good reference with information on Mattey's history, please let me know.
The stereoscope is a chain type model. This type was popular at the end of the 19th century but disappeared with the introduction of more advanced models. Interestingly, they were still offered for sale in a catalog of Mattey from 1936.
My device is a deluxe edition with a walnut finish. It's suitable for viewing paper and glass stereoviews. The formats 45x107 and 6x13 are both supported. To fit the 45x107 slides, they must be placed in a wooden frame. The device contains number 913 on the inside, I assume this is the serial number.
The slides are placed in metal holders that are attached to a chain. There's room for 50 slides. The chain will bring a new slide into position by turning the two large knobs on both sides of the device. The device can be locked with a little key to prevent access to the slides. The unit with chain and holders can be removed from the wooden cabinet. This makes it easier to replace the slides and it was an improvement over earlier models. Extra units were available to change whole collections of stereoviews.
Nevertheless, it's a bit of a hassle to place the slides into the holders and caution is needed because the holders can easily scratch the glass slides. Later stereoscopes, like the Hemdé, used slide trays which are much more convenient.
The two eyepieces on the front panel can be focused. An opaque glass window at the rear illuminates the glass slides. The top is a lid which must be opened to illuminate paper views.
The stereoscope is in full working condition and has only some minor marks and scratches. I will not use it to view my stereoview collection. This is a fine antique object to display and cherish.
- Mattey catalog from 1936
- Stereoscopes: the first one hundred years, Paul Wing, 1996
- Panajou - La maison de la photography