29 April 2020

Taxiphote by Jules Richard

Category: Stereoscopes   Tags: Jules Richard
Taxiphote by Jules Richard - Black & White Photography and Stereoscopy Blog

Taxiphote was the name of a series of multiple view stereoscopes based on slide trays. The device was developed by Jules Richard and the first patent dates from 1900. The first models were just called Stéréo Classeur, but soon the name Taxiphote was introduced. It was the most sophisticated stereoscope of its time.

The Taxiphote remained in production for 35 years and offered more or less the same features during its lifetime. Only the internal mechanism was improved through the years. There were models for the glass formats 45x107 and 6x13, but also for the less common 7x13 and the large format 8,5x17, which was particularly popular between 1855 and 1890. The exclusive device included a cabinet for the storage of slide trays. Large furniture cabinets for up to 1500 slides were also available.

Jules Richard catalog from 1917Jules Richard catalog from 1917
Taxiphote in a Jules Richard catalog from 1917

Taxiphote Standard 45x107

The Taxiphote in my collection is made of walnut and consists of a viewer and a storage cabinet. The front panel of the viewer contains a short instruction manual. The internal mechanism is attached to a copper base plate and this model has serial number 7550 engraved. The plate also contains the name Richard Frères, which was the name of the company when Jules Richard ran it together with his younger brother Max. Max left the company in 1891, but the name and logo RF remained in use for many years.

Taxiphote by Jules Richard
Taxiphote Standard for 45x107 glass slides

The features:

  • Support for slide trays with 25 glass slides in 45x107 format
  • Two achromatic lenses which can be focussed by using knobs on either side of the device
  • Distance between the eyepieces can be adjusted by using a lever which moves over a scale of millimetres
  • A counter on the left side shows which slide in the tray is loaded
  • Written captions on glass slides can be read by bringing a magnifying glass into the field of view
  • A lever to free the lenses so they can be cleaned
  • A storage cabinet for 12 slide trays which can store up to 300 slides

Taxiphote by Jules Richard
Front panel with lenses
Taxiphote by Jules Richard
Slide counter

Modèle Simplifié

Because of its high price, Jules Richard introduced a more affordable model later: the Taxiphote Modèle Simplifié (simplified model). This model lacked some of the advanced features and was mainly available for the 45x107 format. Models for 6x13 existed but were more rare. This compact model did not have a storage compartment and was offered for almost half the price of a standard model.

Taxiphote simplified model by Jules Richard
Taxiphote Modèle Simplifié for 45x107 glass slides

Other models

Finally, a number of other Taxiphote models from the collection of Pascal Martiné. Pascal is a passionate collector of stereoscopy, but he's also specialised in the cleaning and restoring of the devices. On his Instagram account he shares self-made stereo photos and the progress of his restoration projects. With his permission I'll share some models from his collection:
A large 8,5x17 machine next to a 45x107 stéréo classeur
A large 8,5x17 machine next to a 45x107 stéréo classeur
©Pascal Martiné
Taxiphote on a single column storage cabinet
Taxiphote on a single column storage cabinet
©Pascal Martiné

References:

  • Stereoscopes: the first one hundred years, Paul Wing, 1996
  • Richard Vérascope & Taxiphote, Sphæra: the Newsletter of the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford