The Holmes Stereoscope
Stereoscopes are an old invention that allows photos to be viewed in 3-D. The first stereoscopes date to around 1838. They were very popular. There were various models available when Oliver Wendell Holmes invented the hand stereopticon, the type of stereoscope I have. Holmes did not patent his invention, keeping the device economical.
The Holmes Stereoscope is a wooden or metal viewer with two prismatic lenses and a stand to hold the stereo card.
Stereoscope cards have two photos taken with the same focal point, but from different angles. When you look through a viewer, it looks like a single 3-D picture. They were very popular and you could find them anywhere.
These are at the entrance to Lewis & Clark Caverns. You can view them while you wait for your tour.
More about our visit to Lewis & Clark Caverns >
The Story of Morris Cave, Limespur Cave, Lewis and Clark Caverns (with Photo Gallery) >
You can buy Stereoscopes and Stereoviews on eBay >
Make Your Own 3-D Photos
I used to make 3-D photos and you can too. Just pick something in the background to focus on. Then step to one side, focus on exactly the same background and take the next photo. I made my first viewer out of a cold cereal box with a slot to hold the card and a piece of another box taped in the middle. Google has a template for a paper stereoscope, Google Cardboard.
In 1939 View-Master patented a stereoscope with cardboard discs holding transparent film photos.
You can now get stereoscopes to hold an iPhone or iPod Touch. View-Master has Virtual Reality apps that work on a smartphone.
Viewmaster Products on Amazon >
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Oliver Wendell Holmes was the father of the U. S. Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. He was an author, poet, physician, professor, lecturer and inventor.
He was a medical reformer. Holmes promoted the benefits of using the stethoscope and lectured widely exposing medical fallacies, or “quackeries”. He spoke out strongly against false reasoning and misrepresentation of evidence in his lectures Astrology and Alchemy, Medical Delusions of the Past and Homeopathy and Its Kindred Delusions.
Before Germ Theory of Disease was discovered, Holmes recognized that infections were contagious and advocated purifying instruments. He coined the word “anesthesia” in a letter to William T. G. Morton, the first person to publicly demonstrate the use of ether in surgery.
Oliver Wendell Holmes stood up to criticism attempting to grant admission to the first woman and the first African-American men to Harvard Medical School. (Harriot Kezia Hunt later withdrew her application due to strong pressure from other students, university overseers and other faculty members. Martin Delany and two other black men were admitted, but bowing to pressure only persevered for one semester.)
Oliver Wendell Holmes was called as an expert for both sides in the Parkman–Webster murder case, the first time forensic evidence was accepted to identify a body. This was the first time in the United States that dental evidence and scientific testimony were accepted in a murder trial. (The murdered man’s widow empathized with the wife and daughters of the murderer because they were vilified by the press. She was the first contributor to a fund created to benefit the convicted man’s impoverished family.) A number of books have been written retelling the story.
Books about The Parkman Murder Trial: Professor John W. Webster tried for the Murder of Dr. George Parkman >
Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the poem Old Ironsides. In 1830, the wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate USS Constitution was to be decommissioned and dismantled. This was one of the original six frigates of the United States Navy. It fought in the First Barbary War, on “the shores of Tripoli.”
When Holmes read this in the paper, he wrote Old Ironsides opposing scrapping the ship. The poem changed public sentiment and the Constitution was saved.
The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805
William Eaton’s secret mission to overthrow the pirate government in Tripoli.
The first US Marines marched over 500 miles across the deserts of Egypt and Libya to “the shores of Tripoli to take a Barbary city. This is a really well written, exciting book full of action, suspense and betrayal. It is filled with the actual letters from both the people witnessing the action and the people taking part in it. It also followed the lives of many of the characters to tell what eventually happened to them.
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